That’s not what I said!

You work harMixed Messagesd to craft a clear and meaningful message. You are confident it will cut through the noise and unify your team. Yet when you follow up you hear a mishmash of interpretations and it seems like everyone heard a different message. What happened?

People happened! We all have behavioral preferences that influence what we pay attention to in a message, what we ignore, and what irritates us. At Minnesota State Colleges and Universities we use  the DiSC behavioral style model as a tool to help leaders enhance their communication effectiveness. The DiSC model identifies four basic behavioral styles that we all possess. It can help us better understand how each style best receives messages.

The people on your team are listening for, or looking for, different content, ideas, images, and behaviors in the messages they get at work based on their unique set of preferences. The key priorities for each style are:

D – Action, drive and challenge

i – Encouragement, action and collaboration

S – Support, collaboration and reliability

C – Objectivity, challenge and reliability

When we rely on our own style to deliver our messages it will get lost in the noise for many people. A starting point for leaders is to repeat important messages multiple times using varying styles. Additionally, leaders can vary the style they use during individual communications.

The following tips can help you adapt your communication style to increase your effectiveness by connecting with the different behavioral styles on your team.

The D Style – Focus on action and outcomes. Use concise statements that highlight what will be accomplished and when it will be done.

The i Style – Interact informally and with enthusiasm. Focus on the energy in the group and include multiple points of view.

The S Style – Be calm and secure. Describe the process and support available for everyone on the team and thank people for their contributions.

The C Style – Focus on expectations and reasons. Be prepared for questions and don’t view them as resistance.  Provide detailed answers and background analysis.

We all may hear the same words but that doesn’t guarantee your message will make it through the noise without some adaptations.

Todd Thorsgaard



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