DiSC assessments are a great tool to help good leaders understand not only their employees’ personalities and conflict styles, but also their own. Each of the DiSC traits has a specific reaction to communication when moving from normal conversations to conflict conversations. Awareness of this valuable information can be key in spotting non-productive behaviors that conflict arises from. A manager’s ability to understand these points will make them better equipped to prevent conflict from escalating and then create the plan to overcome the conflict and restore a more positive work environment as described in both The Root of Conflict, Part 2 and DiSC and Conflict, Part 1.
The Dominance style person is very direct in their approach. They tend to be very candid and straightforward about the issue that has upset them. When left unheard and unaddressed during a conflict, these people tend to become more aggressive. They create win-lose outcomes and attempt to overpower others with force, while refusing to bend or give into compromise.
While the D’s lash out in logical ways, the I’s in the group go for the emotional kick in the gut when their concerns in a destructive conflict go unacknowledged. In a typical situation, the Influence style person has an empathetic approach to conflict. They are the first to attempt to connect emotionally with the other person and actively work to ensure the other person knows their feelings are being heard and understood. They also tend to use humor as a tool to defuse tension. But if those methods fail, the I’s will become impulsive in their expression of their own feelings and if they feel they are being talked over or ignored, may make personal attacks that would emotionally hurt others.
The patient and calm Steadiness styles in the group are known for listening to the concerns of others and showing a willingness to compromise or be flexible to find a positive resolution. S’s tend to avoid aggressive and will appear as if they are giving in, but their anger can fester under the surface if they feel they are being taken advantage of or being rushed into a compromise they aren’t prepared to make.
Lastly, the Conscientiousness style people in the group will avoid emotionalism in favor for a logic-focused, analytical, and methodical approach. They are keen to sort out the issues with objectivity and dig down until they find the root cause of the problem. However, when pushed outside of their comfort zone and made to feel like their analytical approach to solving the problem is wrong or flawed, our C’s withdraw and become defensive. They will have prepared an arsenal of facts at the ready to back up their stance and if continually pushed, can become either passive aggressive or actually aggressive.
To create a positive work environment, it’s important for a good leader to adapt their communication style to the person with whom they are speaking. Knowing the DiSC of the person a leader is working will can help them to adapt their approach in a meaningful way to foster an environment of cooperation. Using respectful language reduces tension during conflict and keeps the tone of the conversation civil and professional. A good leader will keep their emotions under control and avoid language that puts anyone down. It is of the utmost importance to be consistent and fair. Favoritism has no place in conflict resolution. All should be equally held to the same department standards. Provide clear direction and communicate the priorities and timelines and be clear about your expectations in regard to work attitudes, habits, and how the work is to be completed.
Even proper training and being armed with tools like the DiSC profile, it can be difficult when a manager finds themselves in the midst of conflict. It’s easy to slip into our automatic thoughts and deviate into non-productive behavior as well while emotions run high. Anger and anxiety are the two main categories that automatic thoughts fall into. It’s important when being drawn into conflict, that a leader takes a moment to stop and gauge how their personal emotions could interfere with their judgement or influence their next steps. Once a leader can step back from their emotional and automatic thoughts, they have the time to reframe their thoughts by asking key questions of themselves like:
- Is this thought actually valid or true?
- Am I overreacting or exaggerating the problem?
- Is there another way I can look at the situation?
Answering these questions in a self-assessment way can help to change the way a leader thinks about a situation and gives them the perspective shift that allows for productive responses and positive conclusions.
Front Line Leadership Program offers the official DiSC assessment as well leadership training that teaches how to best use the assessment to combat conflict in any workplace. To get more information on the Front Line Leadership Program, contact Robert Winter at 832-483-5535 or fill out the contact form on our contact page. Impactful strategies for successful leaders start at Front Line.