Responding to the "D" Style - Dominant

Posted by Bill Harshman on

In this series of blogs, you have learned increasingly more about the four styles of DISC (Dominant, Influence, Steady, and Conscientious).  Now that we have the basics of PACE & PRIORITY behind us, I’d like to dive a little deeper into responding to each DiSC style.  Sometimes we are left speechless after interactions with others.  It might be the information being shared; however, it is often the tone of the message that puts us off.  Being familiar with the DISC styles will help you be able to respond and keep communication moving forward, whether by phone, face-to-face, text, or email.  Understanding yourself better is the first step to becoming more effective when working with others.  For illustration’s sake, we will assume the specific style being discussed is that person’s PRIMARY style.  Today’s blog is dedicated to the primary style of “D” or Dominant.

DISC - Responding to the D Style ( 

Let’s go back and remember our TWO basic aspects of the DISC styles:  Pace & Priority.  The Dominant (D) style has a faster PACE and tends to be outspoken and abbreviated.  Other descriptors might include active, assertive, dynamic, and bold.  The D’s PRIORITY is task-oriented and prefers action and results.

Let me share a simple exchange.  A D walks up to a co-worker and asks what time it is.  The co-worker, being unfamiliar with the DISC, shares that lunch was about 2 hours ago, followed by a nice walk while on a break, and then ends up responding, “I’m not quite sure”.  The D is long past waiting for a quick response and has likely moved on.  They were probably more interested in hearing a single digit or two for a response.  Not rude mind you - - it’s just the D style. 

Same scenario with another co-worker who IS familiar with DISC and happens to know our D friend from having been through DISC training together.  This time the interaction results in the co-worker answering, “3:00”, and the D says thanks and walks off quickly, completely satisfied with the exchange.

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

The following are examples of D communication and the appropriate response:

  • D: Leaves brief phone messages, or even just “Call me”.  Will likely skip through long response voice mail messages, or simply pick up the phone to call you back for the “short version.”  Response:  Be brief and succinct in your voice mail message to a D
  • D: Handshake might be firm and brief (not held long).  Response:  Mirror the handshake
  • D: Emails (and texts) may seem overly brief and not include a greeting.  Response:  Get to the point ASAP

Regardless of the communication type, it’s important to understand that D’s prefer solutions and options with supportive analysis.  You will serve D’s best by being efficient and helping them accomplish their goals.

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 complimentary webinar (online) for your team or organization, please send an email to  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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