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Identifying DISC Styles on the Phone

Posted 6 years ago

Do you spend a portion of your business day on the phone? Speaking with new or existing clients? When we pick up the phone to have a conversation, oftentimes, we have no idea what to expect on the other end. The good news? Anyone well versed in the DISC model of behavioral profiling can quickly identify another person’s style – even over the phone – and adapt their communication accordingly. In this week’s story, bestselling author Dr. Tony Alessandra, shares his tips for identifying DISC Styles on the phone and how to respond optimally. Be sure to take these lessons to heart – they could be the difference in securing future professional relationships!

Identifying DISC Styles on the Phone

by Dr. Tony Alessandra

How Will You Know a High ‘D’ by Phone? When speaking on the phone to a High ‘D’, treat her the same way as in a person-to-person contact. Think of the ABC’s: Keep it abridged,  brief and concise. Then we prepare our delivery with the bottom line in mind: “The trend in your industry is toward computer-generated graphics. The research we have conducted with other typesetters in your area indicates increased profits of 20 to 30% over two years. I would like to meet with you for 10 minutes to show you the numbers and see if this concept interests you.” They waste no time. It is not unusual for a High ‘D’ to call someone and, without saying hello, launch right into the conversation. “You’ve got to be kidding; the shipment from Hong Kong will kill us . . . by the way, this is Jack.” When other people cannot keep up with their speed, they may view them as incompetent. On the telephone, determine whether the person sends power signals. High ‘D’s want to pick the time and place to meet. They often speak in a sort of shorthand—concisely and pointedly—and sound cool, confident, and demanding. When High ‘D’ Dennis phones, he actually says, “Janice? Dennis. Tony there?” Talking to him is like speaking to a human telegram. He reduces the concept of brief and to the point to another dimension. As commanding speakers who tend not to listen to others, they naturally want to direct the conversation toward their goals. Under stress, they can become defensive and aggressive, attacking others personally to show who is in control. They dislike using touchy-feely, emotional terms and prefer sensible thinking terminology. “I think we will implement this plan tomorrow,” or, “I think this discussion is over.”

How Will You Know a High ‘I’ by Phone? “What’s up?” or “What’s happening?” are usual High ‘I’ opening lines. They are sometimes so animated that their gestures can be transmitted via the phone lines. How? By their varied, emotional vocal inflections/intonations and their colorful choice of words that may tend toward exaggeration. “Really? That’s fantastic!” or, “You have to be kidding me!” The telephone can be a favorite toy that enables them to both prolong conversations and recharge themselves, especially when no one else is physically around. “I just called because I’m bored.” You may also detect background noise when you speak to individuals of this type. They sometimes put on the TV or radio just for the sound, visual stimulation, and activity. On the phone, High ‘I’s speak rapidly and emotively. “I feel that if we go through with this plan, the community will resent us as anti-environmentalists,” or, “I feel that I have contributed enough to this organization over the years to allow me to talk about this.” Other styles may more naturally use thinking words, instead.

Say it with feeling. Typically, you will notice a wide range of vocal inflection and intonation and a tendency to want to know your reaction. “Do you feel that way, too?” They liven up conversations with personal anecdotes and may keep you on the phone longer than you had anticipated. If you need to extricate yourself from an extended monologue, try something like, “Well, Don, it has been great talking with you. I am really looking forward to our appointment on Monday!” If you say it with feeling, the High ‘I’ may already eagerly anticipate your meeting.

How Will You Know a High ‘S’ by Phone? “How are you?” or “I’m glad to hear from you again,” are typical Steady High ‘S’ greetings. Like those telephone company TV commercials, their warmth can seem to transcend the limitations of the phone lines. Although they prefer more personal interactions with people, they will also settle for indirect contact—especially if the person is pleasant and non-threatening. They project this people orientation by phone and like to build a personal, first-name relationship with callers. Even if they do not know you, they may say, “You don’t have to be formal. Just call me Alice.” They may project a desire to know you personally or provide you with good service. They communicate with steady, even vocal intonations to convey friendliness, comfort, and a sense of relaxation. High ‘S’s tend to be naturals at listening to others’ ideas and feelings, whether on the phone or in person. They tend to be interested in the blow-by-blow, point-by-point description of what you did yesterday or the sequential pattern of how to complete a certain task. You are probably talking to a High ‘S’ if you notice slower than average speech patterns, more moments of listening than of speaking, and references to actual, real-life experiences regarding either products or mutual acquaintances. High ‘S’s tend to express themselves in a rather tentative manner in both their face-to-face and telephone conversations. “I will need to consult Mrs. Adams before I can make that decision,” or, “I am not sure we can do that, but I will get back to you as soon as I find out.” As in other aspects of their lives, they often defer to the more human, proven way things have always been done. They typically feel more comfortable making decisions based on conferring with others rather than by themselves. “What do you think?” and “How do you feel?” and “What do you recommend?” are all common questions this type may ask.

How Will You Know a High ‘C’ by Phone? “Good afternoon, Mr. Loomis. This is Jonathan Williams. You asked me to call back Monday morning.” Formal greetings are one tip-off that you may be dealing with a High ‘C’. Time-conscious individuals of this type often get to a task just when they say they will. Monday morning it is! In this example, the High ‘C’ also calls himself Jonathan, not Jon. We have noticed that many people in this category call themselves by their given names, not by nicknames. It is Elizabeth, Rebecca, Donald, and Peter, not Beth, Becca, Don, or Pete. Of course, there are exceptions. Actually, Jon may prove to be an effective and logical alternative for some High ‘C’s, but this type seems less likely to tolerate what they perceive as cute nicknames for themselves, such as Johnny, Ricky, Cindy, or Becky. They prefer brief, to-the-point telephone calls. Although they may not tell you, call them Mister or Ms. or Doctor or whatever their titles happen to be. High ‘C’s sometimes view jumping into a first-name basis as invasion of privacy, so they deal with others on a more formal basis. If you think you are talking to Sherlock Holmes or Dr. Joyce Brothers, chances are you have contacted a High ‘C’. They typically retain their ground in stressful situations when they can maintain their position with concrete facts or reverse-control questions. They do this quietly and independently, by first avoiding others. Then they take on the problem in an orderly way, which is aligned with their own plan. They are inclined to talk in rather structured, careful speech patterns, almost weighing their words as they say them. They tend to ask pertinent questions and talk in a quiet, observant, cautious way. Additionally, they may not volunteer much about their personal selves beyond the equivalent of name, rank, and serial number. “Yes, I am married with two children. We live in New York.” They prefer to keep the relationship formal, yet pleasant and businesslike. Less can be more to a High ‘C’—less conversation, self-disclosure, and verbal communication equals more comfort zone. Therefore, we must learn to hear between the lines: Longer than average silences, especially when we ask them more private questions, may signal annoyance or reluctance. When this occurs, ask, “Am I getting too personal?” or “If I’m asking uncomfortable questions, how could you let me know so I do not make a problem for either of us?” They may relax more if they think they have an out. Like High ‘S’s, High ‘C’s tend to express themselves in a rather tentative manner. “I will check on that and let you know tomorrow.” Alternatively, they may want to provide you with information so you can form your own conclusions. “I have a copy of the Governor’s report in my files. If I send it to you, perhaps you can find what you are looking for.” Both these approaches satisfy High ‘C’s’ need for caution and correctness. They simply may not want to be misquoted, or possibly, involved in the first place.

identifying DISC styles
Dr. Tony Alessandra, Assessments 24×7, founder/CVO

Dr. Tony Alessandra has a street-wise, college-smart perspective on business, having been raised in the housing projects of NYC to eventually realizing success as a graduate professor of marketing, internet entrepreneur, business author, and hall-of-fame keynote speaker. He earned a BBA from Notre Dame, a MBA from the Univ. of Connecticut and his PhD in marketing from Georgia State University (1976).Known as “Dr. Tony” he’s authored 30+ books and 100+ audio/video programs. He was inducted into the NSA Speakers Hall of Fame (1985) and Top Sales World’s Hall of Fame (2010). Meetings & Conventions Magazine has called him “one of America’s most electrifying speakers”.
Dr. Tony is also the Founder/CVO of Assessments 24×7. Assessments 24×7 is a global leader of online DISC assessments, delivered from easy-to-use online accounts popular with business coaches and Fortune 500 trainers around the world. Interested in learning more about these customized assessment accounts? Please contact us.