Using DiSC in health care or medical settings

Using DiSC in health care or medical settings

Healthcare Workers Having a DiscussionDental offices are frequent buyers of DiSC profiles, at least by our sales numbers. They use DiSC to create a better working environment. Often everyone in the office will discover their profile and new employees will be asked to take the assessment. It makes it easier for the new employee to learn the relationship ropes and be able to focus more on learning operational policies. But we learned from one of our customers that she uses Everything DiSC Sales to train doctors to interact more effectively with their patients.

How about using DiSC to improve the doctor/patient relationship?

Who wouldn’t like their doctor, nurse or social worker to communicate with them in their preferred style? What healthcare professional wouldn’t like to learn how to better persuade their patients to make lifestyle changes, have a procedure completed, take their medications, follow their recommendations, or schedule their next visit?

Providing great health care includes creating a great relationship. Even with 15-minute appointments, the quality of your relationship with your patient will contribute to how influential you can be. Patient-centered care and patient engagement begins with the relationships between patient and staff and/or patient and provider.

Providing great health care is often a sales job.  Just like in sales, you’re looking for the real problem that needs to be solved. You need information from your clients/patients. You need to gain their trust. You need to convince them to buy into a treatment plan. Or you need them to buy into a health maintenance plan. The plans might not be a tangible product like a car, but it is a concept or set of actions you need to sell.

How can DiSC help?

The first step is to know your own preferred communication style and to realize that it will not be effective with many of your patients.  Perhaps you like to move at a fast pace, going directly to all the facts. That style will not work with everyone. You might have enough power or position to be able to expect other staff to work with you using this style, but you can’t expect it of all your patients or clients.

Motivation and persuasion

The second step is to know what other styles people might have and how to recognize them. This is where Everything DiSC Sales can be a huge help. It will help you get a quick read on someone’s style. The report includes a list of behaviors that help you identify each style. That will be enough for you to react by changing your pacing. With your D-style patients, you’ll know to give concise information and refrain from social niceties, for example. With your S-style clients, you’ll know to use a slower pace and show your warmth and genuine concern for their well-being. When suggesting new treatments for someone with the C style, you know that you’ll be asked a lot of why questions; but for someone with the i style you might need to focus on strategizing together on how stay motivated during the treatments.

Each Everything DiSC Sales report includes sections on:

  • identifying your own DiSC Sales style (your priorities, strengths, and challenges),
  • understanding customer buying styles (how to recognize styles and understand their priorities) and
  • adapting your sales style to your customer’s buying style (including customer mapping and interaction planning).

Productive conflict

Everything DiSC Productive Conflict Summary page

Conflict occurs in every workplace but can be especially destructive in healthcare settings. Everything DiSC Productive Conflict addresses one’s reactions to conflict before the conflict occurs. By looking at your own automatic thoughts that pop up during conflict, you can better prepare for future conflict and be more productive in those difficult situations.

The profile helps teams understand how each of them might be experiencing conflict and reacting to it. It can help those with a C or S styles become better at engaging in conflict and can help the D and I styles pull back their intensity.

The DiSC facilitator’s role

Since the medical profession uses their own vocabulary, you’ll need to translate some of the DiSC reports. For example, you’ll want to encourage participants to substitute the word “patient” for “customer”. When they read something like “I try to guide my customers rather than give them the hard sell” you’ll want them to translate that to “I try to guide my clients and insist only when timing is critical.” You’ll want to initiate a discussion on how patients differ and don’t differ from customers if it doesn’t immediately come up.

You’ll also want to include differences of race or ethnicity into your conversations about style. While DiSC styles are present in all cultures, communication must take into account other differences as well. So a traditional Cambodian patient, for example, might show a C-style and seem reserved and skeptical, not wanting any small talk. Nevertheless, that patient might still need calm reassurance that you don’t think he or she is a bad person because of their illness. (For example, traditional Cambodian belief includes illnesses being a form of punishment for sins committed in a past life.)

You might include a discussion on how staff could try to identify the style of patients during intake. If one person has a hard time with strong S-style clients, should someone else to assigned? How can doctors and staff help each other adapt their own styles in response to both patients and each other?


Additional reading

People-reading with Everything DiSC

Everything DISC, TD Magazine
Spectrum Health’s employees use behavioral assessments to improve communication between themselves, colleagues, and patients.

Why hospitals and physicians should get serious about patient-centered care,

Culturally competent care,

The role of personality in health care use: Results of a population-based longitudinal study in Germany, PLoS One

by Kristeen Bullwinkle and the team



  1. In my many years as a licensed psychologist, I never had a problem communicating with patients before the pandemic. Because of the pandemic, my work has moved to an online therapy platform and has made it a little difficult for me to treat patients because I don’t see them in person.

    But I will definitely recommend DiSC to my colleagues.
    Interesting article and good advice.

    • Author
      The team 1 year ago

      I suspect that not seeing patients in person is particularly hard for providers who have a DiSC i style. But for every provider, having to navigate technology while trying to exploit every way you have of listening must be particularly hard. It certainly makes it harder to “people read” someone’s DiSC style. Thank you for your comment.

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