Please Understand Me!

Frequently in my consulting and coaching work I use a behavioral tool called DISC (Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness and Compliance), which shows a person’s preferred behavioral style. Behavioral style is important because it has so much to do with what we say, how we say it and what energizes us.

This week I did DISC debriefs — the review of the tool’s results — with a number of people. Each and every person exclaimed that they wanted the information shared with their Significant Other. I hear comments like, “He/She doesn’t understand why I am the way I am. This would be helpful to show him/her that I’m not trying to be annoying – it’s just me!” Having done over 1,000 of these in the past 13 years, I am not surprised by the responses but it continually reminds me how much we just want to be understood by others – especially those we love.

Often times our style and our communication approach are very different from the other person and can actually act as a repellent – I call this two opposite magnets trying to come together. Instead of connecting, they push away from each other the more you try and push them together!

We feel most comfortable in our own style – whether we be a fast-paced person, a thoughtful and methodical person, a rules-oriented person or a free spirit. We have a hard time making a shift to meet another’s style and behave in a way that is unfamiliar to us. When someone asks us to do something the way they would do it, we honestly don’t understand what they are asking. It’s like telling me I need to speak German all day tomorrow, when I haven’t a clue about the language!

The curious thing to me, as I have read profiles over the years and heard people exclaim, “Please tell my Significant Other!” is that we tend to be attracted to those people who are different from us in the first place. If I am someone who is more emotive, more prone to action and juggling too many things, I may seek someone who is stable, non-emotional and calm. I might believe this person will “balance me”. It’s as if we try to find what we are missing inside of ourselves.

In theory it’s a great idea – you might remember something that I have forgotten. Or you might calm me down when I get upset. It should work that way! And when we advise corporate clients, this complement is what we recommend in building teams. The difficulty is in allowing the other person, or people if it’s a team, to be who they are without trying to change them to your way of thinking.

After we’ve been with someone for a while, we tend to forget that it was their complement that attracted us. Now I want you to be like ME!