DiSC® - Responding to the i (Influence) Style
Posted by Bill Harshman on
In today’s DiSC® lesson, we will discuss responding to the i (or Influence) style. We are shifting from understanding the i 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 i -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 quickly, and enthusiastically solicits your support for what “is sure to be a fun project” with some data the company needs for a final report within the hour. Then, they begin telling you about the last project and the friendly relationships that resulted from the work.
If your only observations about that person are that they seem: fast-paced, people-focused, expressive, and enthusiastic, you already have a lot of information – not even mentioning DiSC® – about this individual. Let me ask here, intuitively are you going to respond to them in a short, curt, expressionless manner? I don’t think so. Even in this interaction, one can wisely assume the other person is not looking to disengage or reject conversation and collaboration. DiSC® helps clarify, focus, and validate that.
As we continue to look at Responding to an i, I want to start with a definition of Influence with which we are likely familiar to help calibrate the reader and provide a common baseline of understanding as we proceed.
Oxford defines Influence as follows: (of a person) the power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this.
DiSC® will provide much more interpretation and meaning to this style label we call Influence. Understanding more about the relationship with the other styles will help with our “response” lesson.
With our focus on the i style, let’s break down this PACE and AGREEABLENESS interaction a bit more.
We’ll start with PACE. We see that i & D share a faster & outspoken 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 i style, let’s take a look at AGREEABLENESS. We see that i & S share an Accepting & Warm AGREEABLENESS. 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 i / C 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 i style, we know that a i comes from a faster & outspoken PACE combined with an Accepting & Warm AGREEABLENESS. When the i needs to interact with a “C”, the first thing the i considers is that the “C” has a cautious & reflective PACE combined with a Questioning & Skeptical AGREEABLENESS (aka, result-focused). This knowledge is all the i needs to prepare for successful interaction. Granted, it will take a little more planning and effort entering the conversation with the others’ “C” 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 i (Influence) style.
Here is a reminder from an actual DiSC® Profile report for an i Style. i’s:
- Place a high priority on Enthusiasm, and tend to maintain an upbeat attitude
- Prioritize Action, and tend to focus on making quick progress toward exciting solutions
- Value Collaboration, and usually enjoy meeting new people, and involving everyone toward building team spirit
I don’t want to leave you with the thought that it’s only about how WE respond to an i. The Influence style has perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge with which they approach the world too. If our subject i observes YOUR behavior and begins to understand more about you, this can help tremendously with your interactions.
For example, if our i observes someone as Cautious & Reflective, combined with Accepting & Warm, they may deduce that person is likely an “S” style. However, if the S knows that about themselves, and also knows how an i likes to be approached and responded to, the likelihood that – with a little stretch – the S will be able to respond to the i more effectively.
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 a simple, everyday exchange with an i style.
i: Lunch - An employee walks up to an i-style co-worker and asks if the co-worker would like to go to lunch.
The “i” co-worker responds, “I hope you’re not joking. I would love to get out for lunch. Those donuts this morning wore off so quickly. Where should we go? I’ve got a craving for Thai food . . . no wait, I think I’ve got a craving for anything. What are you thinking? Hey, Whatcha working on there? . . . Oh well, I’ll head to the restroom and then we can get going. Oh, and let’s go by Julie’s desk to see if she wants to join us. OH, let’s take my new car. I’ve really been wanting to show you.”
Response to the “i”?: (Hint – be prepared with your response before you ask them to lunch) Seriously, acknowledge their ideas, infuse your parameters gently into the conversation such as time required to drive to their favorite restaurants, agree with a couple restaurant choices that work with your food preferences, ask their opinion of your suggestions. i’s like to be involved, are spontaneous, and want to build alliances. They don’t seek to be in control.
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.
i: Handshake - Handshake might be animated with body movement; much eye contact, seeking engagement, so pleased to meet someone new.
Response to the “i”?: Mirror the expressiveness and enthusiasm; acknowledge the introduction, such as: “I’m very pleased to meet the backbone of our IT department. Our salespeople enjoy working with you”.
i: Voicemail - Leaves a friendly, enthusiastic, animated, perhaps a very short sentence about their day, and finally a possible “need to chat briefly” closing message.
Conversely, they will likely listen to a long voice mail message before calling you back, so excited that you called and are already thinking of what they can talk to you about.
Response to the “i” voicemail?: Acknowledge their message cheerfully, ask their opinion, and suggest some parameters about getting together for a discussion.
i: Email - Please review this short email:
I's may write lengthy emails, peppered with jokes, emoticons, and more.
It's very important to I’s that their tone will be accurately conveyed, but it may take some reading by others for the actual point to be made.
Response: Echo the enthusiasm and let them know of your support and willingness to participate, such as: “Thanks Patty, I’m really looking forward to working with you on this project. Thank you for getting us all together, and ESPECIALLY for having coffee and treats for the gang”. My response is really focused on the “recognition” motivator of the “i”.
Let me volunteer one more thing. Yes, you might be a i writing this email, however always consider the audience. If you are looking at an audience of all types, you may well want to have a more inclusive writing style appealing to all 4 DiSC® types. This is especially helpful if you are coaching another manager or one of your direct reports who is great at writing emails from an i perspective, yet you receive feedback that your employees’ emails are somewhat “lofty, time-consuming, disorganized, chatty, etc.” For example, what if this email were addressing the urgent evacuation of the building in 1 hour?
I hope this overview increased your awareness, knowledge, and familiarity of DiSC®. Whether your needs include Onboarding, Employee Engagement, Culture Change, Conflict Management, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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- Tags: I, Influence, Responding