Using DiSC when giving or receiving feedback

Using DiSC when giving or receiving feedback

feedback-smWe might love to offer our opinions, but providing feedback in the workplace isn’t always easy. We wonder if it’s really wanted, if it will be accepted, or if it will be acted upon. Will the recipient be thankful, accepting, cold, hostile, or punishing?

Teams can help each other give honest feedback and seek out productive conflict if they are supportive. And if they practice giving feedback.

Many recommendations for giving feedback, such as asking permission to do so, apply to any style. But each DiSC style has a different goal and fear around getting feedback. Feedback implies a need for personal change of focus, activity, or behaviors and can stir up personal fears and insecurities. These tips may help giving feedback that’s more easily accepted.

How to give feedback to each DiSC style


Remember: They fear losing control; being taken advantage of

  • Be direct and brief.
  • Offer suggestions and listen to theirs.
  • Ask “what” questions. What are you trying to achieve? What are your plans?
  • Show confidence in their abilities.
  • They may respond brusquely, but that doesn’t mean necessarily that they are angry or are rejecting your feedback.


Remember: They fear rejection; loss of approval

  • Highlight how changes will benefit them.
  • Provide feedback in a casual setting.
  • Allow them time to verbalize their thoughts, feelings, ideas.
  • Ask about their motivation for taking an action or making a change.
  • They may need to respond emotionally before they can really hear your feedback.


Remember: They fear losing security; sudden change

  • Be specific and offer concrete examples.
  • Explain how changes will increase stability over the long run.
  • Offer to discuss the issue again later to give them time to think.
  • Ask if a change in structure or policy would make change easier.
  • They may become emotional, so be patient as they process the feedback. They may also need to review your feedback with others before they can accept it.


Remember: They fear criticism of performance; lack of standards

  • Review expected results to be sure you’re in alignment. Be specific and factual.
  • Ask them how they plan to make changes and what support they’ll need.
  • Refer back to agreed upon standards or best practices.
  • Provide them time to think over your feedback and commit to any changes.
  • They might have an emotional response, but you probably won’t see it. If you think you might have hurt them, you need to ask.

How to respond to feedback from each DiSC style

Good feedback is a gift if it allows you to see through your own blind spots or better understand the consequences of your behavior on others. You want to show that you’ve heard the feedback and appreciate it. Each of us will respond first from our own style preferences, but if we can reflect back some of the speaker’s style the experience can be richer.


Focus on results.

  • Accept their bluntness. They aren’t trying to be rude.
  • Remain business-like.
  • Ask “what” questions to get at specifics. What exact change is needed? What do you mean? Can you give an example?
  • Show your desire to achieve results.
  • Provide examples of changes made as a result of their feedback.


Focus on issues of influence and sociability.

  • Show enthusiasm for hearing their suggestions and observations.
  • Ask “who” questions. Who will this help/reach? Who will be/has been affected?
  • Be informal, casual and ready to brainstorm ideas.
  • Show that you understand their interests and needs and express your own.
  • Thank them for their responses.


Focus on stability and relationships.

  • Be methodical and respectful.
  • Ask “how” questions. How could this be improved? How do you see this differently?
  • Probe for additional task-related specifics or other concerns.
  • Ask if you can follow up with them later about changes you’re making.
  • Show sincere appreciation for the feedback.


Focus on quality.

  • Be business-like and respect their knowledge and expertise.
  • Ask “why” questions. Why do you think this is wrong? Why do you think a change is needed? Why will that help achieve our goal?
  • Offer options.
  • Be prepared to back up your choices with data.
  • Summarize verbal feedback in writing.

Final notes

Be sure you’re giving feedback that is valuable. If someone is simply using a different work process — doing it differently than you would — but getting results, then you need to let it go. You might also want to avoid giving feedback if

  • You don’t have enough information or are using second-hand information or gossip.
  • The recipient has no control over what you want them to change.
  • The person is really vulnerable or emotional right now. Wait a bit.
  • You don’t have time to engage in dialogue.
  • You only have criticism and no suggestions for a solution.

If you’re curious about how to give better feedback during conflict situations and gain more awareness of what might be destructive responses, take the Everything DiSC Productive Conflict assessment and get personalized results.

Additional resources

Podcast: How to Give Feedback That’s Actually Helpful, Kellogg Insight

by Kristeen Bullwinkle and the team


1 Comment

  1. James Swindells 1 month ago

    I have recently done the DiSC evaluation and have started using this website – giving and receiving feedback has come up as an area to help me and my team develop – this is a helpful resource and I am glad to have many others on this site as well 🙂

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