Behavioral Styles and Communication Problems

One of the reasons we sometimes consider other people as “difficult” is that their behavioral style is different than our own. Each of us has her own behavioral style, and when there’s a behavioral mismatch, it often creates miscommunication. In fact, behavioral style is often at the root of our differences.

In my book, “Understanding Other People: The Five Secrets to Human Behavior,” I discuss a wonderful behavioral tool called DISC. Learning your DISC profile is very helpful in acquiring effective communication skills and in helping you deal with difficult people, because it allows you to more objectively understand why you communicate in a particular way, and why someone else’s communication style might be difficult for you.

The DISC behavioral tool examine the way people handle problems and challenges; how they interact with others; whether they prefer predictability and stability or frequent change; and how they feel about rules and procedures.

It’s pretty obvious that if I’m a results-oriented, fast-talking and fast-moving person, while you are slower to act and prefer to gather all the info before you make a move, it is going to be very difficult for us to work together on a project.

Another scenario where behavioral styles cause communication difficulties: if you are my boss, and you are a fast-paced person who loves frequent change, but I, your employee, prefer sameness and predictability, it is going to be very difficult for you to get me excited about a proposed change to the organization.

So how do we deal with behavioral styles that are different than our own? People function best if they can work within their own style and not adapt to someone else’s. But when your goal is to become a better communicator, you will need to learn to recognize your own behavioral style, to recognize the behavioral style of the person you are interacting with, and – ideally – to match your own behavior to that person.