DiSC® - Responding to the S (Steady) Style

Posted by Bill Harshman on

In today’s DiSC® lesson, we will discuss responding to the S (or Steady) style.  We are shifting from understanding the S 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 S-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 calmly, and courteously asks if you have time for a brief, work-related question.  It becomes obvious to you that this person is seeking your participation on a project team.  They are patient, and tactful in their soft-spoken approach as they demonstrate collaboration.  They actually leave you feeling understood and accepted.

If your only observations about that person are that they seem:  cautious & reflective PACE combined with an Accepting & Warm demeanor, 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.  If your goal is to have effective communication, you will better off to “align & reflect” with their patient, even-tempered observable behaviors than to ignore those behaviors.  DiSC® helps clarify, focus, and validate that.

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

Oxford defines Steady as follows:  regular, even, and continuous in development, frequency, or intensity.

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

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

We’ll start with PACE.  We see that S & C 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 S style, let’s take a look at AGREEABLENESS.  We see that S & i share an Accepting & Warm AGREEABLENESS.  In other words, they each know a little bit about the language of the other and their “people-focused” approach. 

You might wonder “What about the diagonal pairings (for example the S / D 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 S style, we know that an S comes from a cautious & reflective PACE combined with an Accepting & Warm AGREEABLENESS.  When the S needs to interact with a “D”, the first thing the S considers is that the “D” has a faster & outspoken PACE combined with a Questioning & Skeptical AGREEABLENESS (aka, result-focused).  This knowledge is all the S needs to prepare for successful interaction.  Granted, it will take a little more planning and effort entering the conversation with the others’ “D” 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 S (Steady) style.

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

  • S’s Place a high priority on Giving Support, and find satisfaction in accommodating others
  • S’s Prioritize Maintaining Stability, and tend toward reliable and cautious. Harmony is a core need of the Steady style 
  • S’s Value Collaboration, cooperation, and interaction. Prefer being seen as a team player who provides empathy that makes people feel understood and accepted.  Remember the S motto?  Let’s Do It Together

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


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 an S style.

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

The “S” replies, “Why thank you for asking me.  That is quite appreciated.  Is this a good time for you?  Where would you like to go?  I’m up for whatever you are.” 

The employee’s response to the “S”?:  (Hint – very little response needed here because “S’s” are so accommodating, sometimes overly so)  “I appreciate your flexibility.  Let’s head to that place we tried last week that we both liked.  They were timely and we had no surprises.  I’m up for that today.  Does that sound good to you?”.

This type response incorporates accommodation and stability (same restaurant) and collaboration (Does that sound good to you?), all of which the “S” prefers.

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 - S handshake might be polite, respectful, accompanied by courteous head dip.  Note that the “S” may cautiously hesitate to trust new or unfamiliar people until they have established their credibility.   

Response to the “S”?:   The “S” will likely match the other person’s pace and tone rather than asserting their own.  Feel free to speak first and accept the S’s calm, peaceful, serene style as humble respect.  Look to include them as a part of the group in social functions.  Anything you can do to demonstrate acceptance, friendship, and cooperation will be appreciated by the S.

Voicemail -  John is an “S”:  He leaves a somewhat more formal, safe voicemail.  He is pleasant, calm, peaceful with their words and tone:  Listen in as I read . . .

Hi Sarah, this is John (S).  I hope you’re having a nice day.  I’m calling about the update on the process for this year’s Staff Picnic.  Last year was such a hit, I really want this one to get good reviews as well.  I’d really like your opinion before presenting it to the committee.  I kept the items that people seemed to like last year and added only a couple small new activities for this year, pending your approval.  I know you’re busy, so let me know of a 15-minute window and I’ll confirm back.  Thanks for the time, Sarah.”

Response to John, the “S”?:  Show sincere appreciation:  “Hi John,  Great job on keeping the group going forward and getting along.  You keep this up, and I’ve got a couple other committees where your team-oriented style could really help.  Please come by Monday at 11AM and we’ll block out time to get this years activities list ready for the committee.”

Email - Please review this short email:


S’s may write somewhat formal emails while still getting to the point.  Always with a friendly greeting, efficient word choice.  And, again they are motivated by collaboration and want people to feel included and accepted.  I like to call it “friendly teamwork”.

Response?:  “Hello John, thank you for the invitation.  Looking forward to the meeting on Tuesday morning.  I CAN send you my research homework ahead if that would be helpful to gain your opinion and feedback.  I look forward to working together.”

The main point in these “S” response examples is that they are distinctly different than the “D” or “i” responses discussed in previous VLOGs.  We’ll discuss responding to the “C” or Conscientious style in a future VLOG.

I don’t want to leave you with the thought that it’s only about how WE respond to an S.  The Steady style has perceptions, beliefs, and knowledge with which they approach the world too.  If our subject “S” 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 “S” 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 S knows their own style, and also knows how an “i” likes to be approached, the likelihood that – with a little stretch – the S will be able to respond to the “i” more effectively.

Here’s a short, true story for you.  I had a co-worker who was a particularly “high i (Influence Style)” and was all the aspects we have shared about an i, except those descriptors were in all CAPS – so to speak (highly outgoing, highly enthusiastic, HIGHLY-spirited, highly lively, etc.).  Not a problem, it was just very easy to identify those observable behaviors AND equally validated with her DiSC® results.  As a member of my training team, she would occasionally enter one of our DiSC® training sessions, introducing herself to the entire room, humorously apologizing for the interruption by proudly exclaiming, “It’s okay, I’m an i”.

It always drew a chuckle from the learner audience, and I always support humor as a reinforcement learning tool as appropriate.  However, here’s the potential problem with someone using their style as an excuse.  If you expect everyone to excuse you because of your style, it’s ignoring the critical aspect of DiSC® which is to understand others’ styles.  Ignoring the other styles around you is like the old analogy (business idiom), “if you are the hammer, everything in front of you looks like a nail”.  We should always be aware of our and others’ styles as we move toward effective communication.

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 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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