DiSC® - Responding to the C (Conscientious) Style

Posted by Bill Harshman on

In today’s DiSC® lesson, we will discuss responding to the C (or Conscientious) style.  We are shifting from understanding the C style to more of interacting and responding.  I’ll address today’s topic from multiple perspectives: 1) those who are not familiar with the DiSC® technology or jargon, 2) those who ARE familiar with DiSC® and some understanding of each of the 4 styles, and 3) those who not only know of DiSC® but have taken the assessment and know their own style and other styles quite well.

I’ll review C-specific information, then provide examples of responses to daily situations.

Before we dive deeper, I have always encouraged learners to maintain a couple important pieces of baseline knowledge. These two pieces are critical to understanding DiSC®.  (This is especially for first-time readers of my blogs)

First are the Cornerstone Principles that we have discussed before:

  • All DiSC®styles are equally valuable
  • Everyone is a unique blend of all DiSC®styles, and people tend toward one or two styles
  • Your unique style is also influenced by other factors such as life experiences, education, and maturity


Second is the Basic DiSC® Styles Model:



A person’s DiSC® style is decided by the intersection of two dimensions of observable behaviors (including body language, tone of voice, expression, and word choice):

The vertical dimension is known as PACE (or outward activity level) described as either Fast-paced & Outspoken OR Cautious & Reflective.  The horizontal dimension is known as your AGREEABLENESS quotient.  This means those who are “less agreeable” place a lower PRIORITY (concern) for cooperation and social harmony, and we refer to them as “Questioning & Skeptical” on the left end of this dimension.  A general term for them might be result-focused.  Those who are “more agreeable” place a higher PRIORITY on cooperation and social harmony and we refer to them as “Accepting & Warm” on the right end of this dimension.  A general term for them might be people-focused.

*It is the interaction between these TWO continua which forms the 4 quadrants (or basic styles) of the DiSC® model, AND by which you identify a person’s DiSC® style.

However, what if you don’t know about DiSC® let alone the style of the person you’re responding to?  This is the power of the DiSC®.  It begins with observable behavior.  I said this lesson would be helpful to the non- DiSC® types.  Let’s see how.

Here’s a scenario.  Someone comes up to you with a reserved, cautious demeanor and asks if you have 7 minutes for a work-related question on the XYZ project due for completion on this coming Tuesday by 2PM.  It becomes obvious to you that this person is seeking a clear, articulate response.  They are detailed, precise, analytical, and systematic in the explanation of their need.  They are NOT at all overly animated, and seem very focused on this task and getting it done RIGHT.  They actually leave you feeling in awe of their complex problem-solving skills.

If your only observations about that person are that they seem:  cautious & reflective PACE combined with a Questioning & Skeptical demeanor, you already have a lot of information about this individual – not even mentioning DiSC®.  Let me ask here, intuitively are you going to respond to them in a lengthy, chatty, wandering manner?  I don’t think so.  Even in this interaction, one can wisely assume the other person is not looking to engage in chit-chat or unnecessary social dialogue.  If your goal is to have effective communication, you will better off to “align & reflect” with their analytical, reserved, private behaviors than to ignore those behaviors.  DiSC® helps identify and validate that.

As we continue to look at Responding to a C, let’s start with a definition of Conscientious with which we are likely familiar to help calibrate the reader and provide a common baseline of understanding as we proceed. 

Oxford defines Conscientious as follows:  governed by conscience; controlled by or done according to one's inner sense of what is right; principled; careful and painstaking; particular; meticulous; scrupulous.  

DiSC® will provide much more interpretation and meaning to this style label we call ConscientiousUnderstanding more about the relationship with the other styles will help with our “response” lesson.

With our focus on the C style, let’s break down this PACE and AGREEABLENESS interaction a bit more. 

We’ll start with PACE.  We see that C & S share a cautious & reflective PACE.  In other words, if they have a similar PACE, they are more likely to be able to understand one another sooner and easier . . . than if they had a dissimilar PACE.  Putting that another way, they each know a little bit about the other with whom they are interacting. 

Now, still focusing on the C style, let’s take a look at AGREEABLENESS.  We see that C & D share a Questioning & Skeptical AGREEABLENESS (aka result-focused).  In other words, they each know a little bit about the language of the other and their “result-focused” approach. 

You might wonder “What about the diagonal pairings (for example the C / i relationship)?”  That’s a good question.  This is where we begin to see interaction between dissimilar styles that share NEITHER PACE nor AGREEABLENESS.  Let’s take a look.

Again, with our focus on the C style, we know that an C comes from a cautious & reflective PACE combined with a Questioning & Skeptical AGREEABLENESS (result-focused).  When the C needs to interact with an “i”, the first thing the C considers is that the “i” has a faster & outspoken PACE combined with an Accepting & Warm AGREEABLENESS (aka, people-focused).  This knowledge is all the C needs to prepare for successful interaction.  Granted, it will take a little more planning and effort entering the conversation with the others’ “i” style in mind.

I call this extra “effort” the STRETCH.  One style may have to STRETCH (or FLEX) a little to “speak the language” of another style, always considering the others’ needs, preferences, and priorities.

Let’s now look at a very brief list of other descriptors to help you more easily and more accurately respond to the C (Conscientious) style.

PACE: Cautious & Reflective

AGREEABLENESSQuestioning & Skeptical (result-focused)

  • Analytical
  • Reserved
  • Precise
  • Private
  • Systematic

Here is a reminder from an actual DiSC® Profile report for a C Style. 


  • Place a high priority on Accuracy, and are willing to do what it takes to get things right. They analyze carefully and make logical decisions based on objective facts.
  • Prioritize Maintaining Stability, and tend to be self-controlled and cautious. They prefer predictable settings with minimal chaos. 
  • Welcome Challenge, often questioning people’s opinions if they’re unconvinced, and are willing to point out problems and flaws. Remember the C motto?  Do It Right.

From a C perspective, let’s look at how C’s see all 4 styles (& their respective motivators):

C's see D’s as: Forceful, Intense, Demanding, Impulsive

(Results, Action, Challenge)

C's see i’s as: Talkative, Emotional, Scattered, Naïve

(Enthusiasm, Action, Collaboration)

C's see S’s as: Uncritical, Compliant, Flexible, Diplomatic

(Support, Stability, Collaboration)

C's see other C’s: Logical, Systematic, Reliable, Analytical

(Accuracy, Stability, Challenge)

Now, in all fairness, the best interaction occurs when each style reaches in toward the other style with acceptance, understanding, and a desire for mutual communication success.

Let me take you through simple, everyday exchanges with a C style.

Lunch - An employee walks up to a co-worker who has a “C” style and asks if the “C” would like to go to lunch. 

If your “C” invitee calls ahead to confirm the restaurant is open, checks the menu online ahead of time to estimate how much they can/will spend, possibly checks their cell phone for traffic updates, and even checks the Yelp reviews to see others’ opinions of the restaurant, you might be dealing with a "C“ style.

The employee’s response to the “C”?: “Thank you for confirming the restaurant hours and good on checking for traffic.  If we leave now, we can chat on the way to see what you saw on their menu that caught your attention.”

Remember, the C is result-focused.  They also like to maintain a sense of control and stability (e.g., knowing where they are eating, traffic, and how much money before departing the office).  And, your inquiry into their menu acceptance acknowledges their value on reasoning and analysis.  

Don’t let the simplicity of this scenario fool you.  The same awareness applies to other types of communication (such as phone, face-to-face, text, or email).  Let’s take a look.

Handshake - C:  Handshake might be brief and firm.  Note that the “C” may cautiously hesitate to trust new or unfamiliar people until they have established their credibility.  Handshake is usually formal.  C styles have sparse eye contact (possibly none when in an elevator with strangers). They exhibit deliberate gestures and prefer distance between others when sitting. 

Response:  Mirror the calm, patient, and formal gesture.  Appreciate their accurate style and provide them the opportunity to analyze options rationally and separate emotions from facts.

Voicemail - Contractor John Keating is our “C” style who leaves a formal, thoughtful, objective, and fact-based voicemail with an expectation / request for action in his message.

“Hello Susan, this is John Keating.  It’s 10:15AM on Tuesday 7th.  I’m calling regarding the patio deck project at your home on Willowcrest Way.  We’re exactly on track according to the project timeline.  As planned, my crew is finishing up today and I’ll come by at 3PM to inspect the worksite.  AND, I’m requesting your presence for a final inspection tomorrow (Wednesday the 8th) at 9AM.  I’ll forward you a calendar invite as well.  That meeting will begin at 9AM and should take no more than 30 minutes.  Thank you.”

Response to the “C” style voicemail?  A simple return message confirming the final inspection meeting tomorrow at 9AM at your house, such as “Hi John, I received your message regarding the inspection.  I’ll see you at 9AM tomorrow here at the house.” 

This clear response versus no return message which some styles do, or one that says, “Hey John, got your message.  See you tomorrow”.   John’s analytical, precise “C” style won’t be able to confirm if you got the specific information he was messaging.  Without that confirmation, don’t be surprised if John feels the need to leave another message(s) until he gets confirmation.

Email - Please review this short email and response:

Attention Planning Committee:

The Planning Committee will be meeting on Wednesday, November 17, on the third floor in the smaller of the two conference rooms.  Meeting will begin at 9:00AM PST and conclude at 12:30PM PST.


1.Status of pending physical plant expansion

2.Layout presentations for manufacturing (Slides to be sent to me by November 10)

3.Assignments, action items, next steps.

Regards, Mr. Stanley Holcomb

Operations Manager, Western Region


Response email?

This is to confirm my attendance at the Planning Committee meeting on Wednesday, November 17.  I will arrive shortly before 9:00 AM PST and understand that the meeting will conclude @ 12:30 PM PST.   My action items are as follows:

1.I will be prepared to give the current status of the physical plant expansion.

2.I will send you my proposal presentation before November 10.

Regards,  Elizabeth Wilson


C’s write somewhat formal, structured emails, less social, and getting to the point.  Always with clear, efficient word choice.  And, again they are motivated by accuracy and stability.

Response?:  Brief, confirming, fact-based, and accurate.

I don’t want to leave you with the thought that it’s only about how WE respond to a C.  The Conscientious style has perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge with which they approach the world too.  If our subject “C” observes YOUR behavior and begins to understand more about you, this will help tremendously with your interactions.

In fact, this is a very important aspect of understanding DiSC® technology.  It is incumbent upon someone who knows their style to interact with others based upon their behavioral observations.  For example, if our “C” observes someone as Fast-paced & Outspoken, combined with Accepting & Warm (or people-focused), they may deduce that person is likely an “i” style.  However, if the C knows their own style, and also knows how an “i” likes to be approached, the likelihood that – with a little stretch – the C will be able to engage and respond to the “i” more effectively.

As I’ve shared previously, there are different degrees of each style.  That aspect is called inclination, which varies between slight, moderate, and strong (or high).   It’s basically how more (high) or less (slight) inclined a person is to naturally encompass the characteristics of their respective DiSC® style.

Here’s a humorous story to help underscore inclination.  This section is titled, “You know your C is very strong (or high) when . . .

Back in medieval times, justice was swift and decisive . . . though not always “just”.  And, justice often involved execution, not jail time.  One of the tools they used in those days was called a guillotine . . . a large, vertical chopping machine.  One day in the kingdom, three individuals were scheduled to be executed, including a priest, a doctor, and an engineer.  The priest was first to be placed into the intimidating device.  The King gave the order, and the executioner pulled the rope.  Nothing happened.  The device failed to operate.  However, the simple folks in the village thought this must be divine intervention and the King ordered the priest to be set free to go forth and spread his word.  The Doctor was then positioned in the primitive machine.  Once again, the guillotine failed to operate.  Again, the King sensed a higher power intervening and ordered the doctor released to go forth and heal the sick. 

Now, the last prisoner happens to be an Engineer who has a strong or high C (Conscientious) Style (you know the type . . . Analytical, result-focused, and precise, all that with a “Do It Right” motto).  Well, as scheduled, the engineer was brought forward and put into position, while the crowd awaited the order from the King.  At the last moment, the C Style Engineer – looking upward and examining the wooden, bladed, mechanical contraption – remarked, “Oh wait!  I think I see the problem.”

By the way, now that you know a little more about identifying the Conscientious style, do you think you know any C’s in your world?

I hope this overview increased your awareness, knowledge, and familiarity of DiSC®.  Whether your needs include Onboarding, Employee Engagement, Culture Change, Conflict Management, Coaching, Team Building, or simply Communication, DiSC® is the research-based, proven, leading training solution.

As ALWAYS, the key to effectiveness through DiSC® is understanding your and others’ styles and then using that knowledge for improved interactions.

If you would like a live, complimentary webinar (online) for your team or organization, please send an email to info@traininglocation.com.  If you’d like to purchase the DiSC®, visit  DiSC® Classic or Everything DiSC® at our website.  And, check out our products from The Ken Blanchard Companies as well.

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