Have you ever worked with someone who just seemed to rub you the wrong way? Perhaps there’s a co-worker with whom you always seem to be at odds, despite your best efforts.
Sam Lucci III, founder and CEO of Partners Through People, has developed a unique training program based on the Inscape DiSC system that can help you understand why people act the way they do.
Lucci says that people fall into four different categories, which are called behavioral styles: dominant, influencing, steady and compliant. Business owners can use the system to improve relationships within their company and with their customers.
“A company that doesn’t do this is really leaving a lot on the table,” says Lucci. “Understanding this can probably reduce 50 percent of the conflict you’ll have in an organization.”
Smart Business spoke with Lucci about how a better understanding of human behavior can help your business.
How are the behavior types different?
Dominant people are leaders and quick decision-makers. Influencing people are entertainers. They like to constantly interact with people. Steady people are slow and methodical, stable and loyal. Compliant people are quality control people. They like to do things correctly and follow procedures.
How can understanding someone’s behavioral style help?
Once you know which style of behavior a person is, you adjust your behavior to match his or hers to make the person comfortable. Once you do that, you put the individual in a comfort zone and cooperation becomes much more possible.
When you understand this, you don’t just use it for your employees, you use it for your customers, too. Let’s say you install garage doors and one of your salespeople recognizes a compliant behavior style in a customer. Once your staff knows that it is a compliant person, you know you need to send one of your top installers, because compliant people don’t like anything that isn’t perfect.
It would be silly to send a brand new installer to a compliant customer. You would send the new installer to a steady person, who would be more understanding of their learning curve.
When you know the system, you can begin to use it among your staff to help them identify their customer base and create the environment that each one needs.
What are the consequences of ignoring behavior styles in business?
If it’s a stranger, you never get a second chance to make a first impression. When you have long-term interactions with co-workers, each style wants to be treated differently. Without this knowledge, you can be abrading each other without even realizing it.
When you don’t know this system, you abrade people. If you abrade somebody once, that’s one hit. If you abrade them 400 times in six years, that’s 400 hits. It’s like cartilage on your knee — you start to wear it out. You’ll see that in companies. People get to the point where they can’t stand each other.
The biggest fallacy people make is they treat people the way they want to be treated. That’s the Golden Rule from the Bible, but it’s just not the way to do it. Why? Because dominant people are 7 percent of the population. The other 93 percent don’t like to be treated the way dominant people like to be treated.
How do you identify behavior styles?
The only way you can get proficient in this is to study, learn and internalize it. This is not something you do over a seminar. This is something you do over a several-year process where you incorporate a whole new way of doing things.
This knowledge will make you an expert in predicting what people are going to do. Once you know this information, you know what people are going to do before they do it, because they fall into four distinct patterns.
There is a list of what you should do to make them comfortable, what you should never do that would make them uncomfortable, what they like and don’t like. You use this knowledge to change the way you interact with people. The way you identify the style is once you know what it is, you’ll see the patterns in the behavior.
For instance, if you were standing in line in a retail store, you may see a dominant person walk right up to the counter and ask the clerk a question. He or she has no problem interrupting the clerk because the person wants an answer. The other three styles would never do that, but the dominant person would find that very normal.
You can tell a compliant person by his or her posture, because it tends to be perfect. If you see someone who is self-contained with perfect posture and a nondemonstrative demeanor, that individual is probably a compliant person. As you interact with people, you keep getting more and more clues as to the type of person you are dealing with. Then you keep adjusting to that.
Why should you take the time to learn what styles fit your employees?
When you’re a business owner, you have a lot to do. We don’t always take the time or want to take the time, but each behavioral style needs to be treated differently. If you don’t do that, you lose your employees’ respect and loyalty. It’s a stress builder for people, too.
When I take the time to understand you and create an environment that makes you comfortable, that is one of the highest forms of respect you can have. When you respect somebody, whether they are an employee or a customer, you’re going to see your relationship with that person improve.
Build teams with all four styles to create a balance. Then, teach them why they are there — their strengths and weaknesses and how they balance each other. Then they gain an appreciation of each other.
Samuel J. Lucci III is the CEO and founder of Partners Through People. Reach him at email@example.com or (724) 457-2500.