As a business professional, understanding your and others’ personality types can be a game changer when it comes to interacting with potential clients, business associates, peers, and management. As you begin to appreciate how communication styles can differ based on someone’s view of the world, it can help you connect with them in more meaningful ways.

Identifying personality types

Many personality-assessment tests interpret individual traits based on what motivates people and influences the way they interact with others.

One such personality-profile model is DISC, an acronym for four primary personality traits: dominance, influence, steadiness, and conscientiousness. Taken by millions worldwide, this tool has helped business professionals, employers, and employees to improve communication and interactions with others, be more productive in the workplace, and maximize teamwork.

Some companies that utilize DISC (or DiSC, as publisher John Wiley and Sons spells it) suggest taking these three steps to help you quickly identify one’s personality type: observe, assess, and recognize (OAR).

  1. Observe: Pay attention to how
    a person expresses themselves, what they enjoy talking about, and their tone of voice. Just as important, observing a person’s body language can tell you a lot about them.
  2. Assess: When you have spent enough time in a person’s company, you should be able to assess behavioral patterns. For example, are they reserved, speak in a quieter voice, and make minimal eye contact, or do they have an outgoing temperament, and louder voice and hold eye contact?
  3. Recognize: About 80 percent of people reportedly have a blend of more than one personality type, but one typically tends to be stronger than the others. Once you have a fairly good idea of someone’s personality, you can begin to identify their specific personality type.

Communication styles of different personalities

Creating a good impression when meeting someone for the first time can be challenging; being able to identify someone’s personality type to make an immediate connection is rarely easy.

However, with practice, a critical eye, and attention to detail, you can start recognizing various personality styles effectively.

D: (Dominance)

D personality types are very direct in their communication style. They often state their opinions as facts and may interrupt a conversation when they’re bored or frustrated or if it’s not going the way they want it to. Also, when communicating with a D-trait personality, be clear and concise with your messaging—be prepared and organized with your objectives for what you want to accomplish during your meetings. Avoid engaging in unnecessary chatter since they are turned off by inconsequential conversations.

D personalities are also task-oriented and problem solvers who thrive on seeing concrete results. They value competency, are goal-driven, and tend to focus on the big picture. It’s important to acknowledge their point of view even if it’s different from yours. Stay confident and focused, and ask a lot of questions to better understand their motivations and business goals.

I: (Influence)

People with this personality type flourish most by pursuing and building relationships and are most content when they connect with someone on an emotional level. They are socially driven beings who are talkative, optimistic, and persuasive with their upbeat energy and warm demeanor.

For best results with this personality type, provide suggestions on how to plan, organize, and execute a project or task. It’s best to stay focused on the excitement of a project rather than presenting them with a lot of facts and figures. Once an “I” personality is energized by an idea, they will want to implement it as soon as possible. They value collaboration, so supporting them in the execution of a particular venture will help you build a positive business relationship with them.

S: (Steadiness)

The S personality thrives by working in a highly collaborative, harmonious environment where a win-win outcome is the ultimate goal. They value sincerity, cooperation, and loyalty, so when getting to know an S, show genuine interest by engaging in personal conversation rather than just rushing in with your business agenda.

To effectively communicate with an S and gain a clear understanding of what motivates them, ask specific questions and listen carefully to what is being said. Be sure to present your information logically, allowing them time to absorb it on their timeline. They like being in control and do not want to feel pressured to immediately respond or make a business decision since they generally like to take their time before giving a definitive answer.

C: (Conscientiousness)

C personality types are analytical and investigative by nature. Coupled with their superior planning skills, they generally drive high-quality outcomes. They are perfectionists, disciplined, and diligent in accomplishing tasks, and they think objectively rather than emotionally.

When meeting a C personality for the first time, be mindful that they communicate in a direct, more formal manner and are motivated by accuracy and deadlines. Therefore, when communicating with a C, be sure to quantify your or your  company’s successes with data they can verify and measure. In addition, they value diplomacy, so if you are not in agreement with their assessment of a particular business issue, substantiate your view with facts and testimonials from trustworthy sources.

Understanding how clients, colleagues, and peers prefer to communicate can positively impact your relationships in the workplace and lead to better business outcomes. With practice and increased self-awareness, you’ll more easily identify different personality types and excel in the art of interpersonal communication.

Take action:

Consider taking your own DISC personality test to identify your communication style.