I was looking at two different Everything DiSC Workplace® profiles I took over ten years apart. My basic C style remains, but I’ve moved much more toward the outside and toward D. What does this tell me?
Acceptance of my style
I believe that as I’ve aged I’ve gained more self-awareness and I’ve become more comfortable being who I am. I’ve become more myself. I’ve accepted that I’m introverted and that it’s not a character defect, for example. I’ve had lots of feedback telling me that I can be brusque and blunt. So when I see phrases on the DiSC® questionnaire that might have seemed a little undesirable to me in the past, I accept them now because I know that my preferences do not equate with my abilities or my value. Maybe this is a reflection of my increasing maturity.
I can be patient
When my mother had dementia I had to look hard at my own preferences. I tend to look past emotions surrounding a situation and go straight to optimizing my activities. So I asked questions like “Why is she confused and how can I fix that?” I had to call on the little bit of S style I have and simply sit with her and try to understand her real needs. She didn’t need me to convince her that the clothes in her closet were indeed hers, but rather remove them and bring them back with her laundry. She did need me to select personal items meaningful to her for her room in an assisted living residence.
When I argue, I’m likely to go straight for facts and logic and am uncomfortable around anyone showing strong emotions. But I have learned to take a bit of a break and to look for the needs and preferences of others and consider conflict as a relationship with others. I understand better how important sharing feelings can be to those on the other side of the DiSC circle. I know that I can experience their reactions and even share a few feelings of my own. I recognize that the i and S styles will be much more willing to listen to my arguments if I give them some of what they need before explaining more about my reasoning.
I am more patient with myself, too. I schedule or take time for myself regularly, even during social gatherings. I need that little bit of distance to recharge and I don’t feel so weird about it. I can better explain to others that I’ll be back to join in again and I’m not angry or withdrawing because I’m hurt. I’m just recharging. I can ask others to be patient with my needs.
The Everything DiSC® Agile EQ profile really helped me consider why, when, and how to use the empathizing mindset. Looking at my automatic thoughts provided so many insights into why I have a hard time being as empathetic as my friends, family, and colleagues deserve.
I can learn from other styles
I’ve also become much more comfortable moving into another style. So while I don’t typically seek out collaboration, for example, I am not ill at ease working that way. I can show enthusiasm and be supportive, even if I don’t show a strong preference for those behaviors. I know that stretching into these other styles will leave me a bit drained, however.
When I helped a friend at the farmers market I thought about what I had learned from the Everything DiSC® Sales profile. I turned the notch way up on my i style when encountering potential customers who I read as i styles. I even enjoyed chatting them up and helping them have a tactile experience with the product. I also scheduled a long walk alone for after those hours at the market.
I try to learn from diplomatic S-style people I know and even adapt some of their language and body language because I know that I can be overly blunt. I know that I tend not to offer praise or even a thank-you as often as others would like. So I’ve asked others to call me out when I seem to discount or ignore another person’s positive actions.
I value other styles
Reading The 8 Dimensions of Leadership helped me really understand the values each style brings to any leadership activity. I can be judgmental and I once pegged the S and i styles as ineffective leaders. (I’m so embarrassed by this now.)
My lessons about the importance of networking—something every S knows—have been learned the hard way. I might really like to work for an energizing leader. I know I enjoyed working for an affirming leader. I dismissed some of her warm and inclusive actions as being a waste of time or politically motivated. I was very wrong. I felt like she understood my individual needs and the needs of our team. She got us resources others could not or would not have fought for.
It’s a circle for a reason
I’ve come to understand that I have choices about my behaviors. My priorities don’t have to dictate my actions. In fact, as I age, I want to experience more of the DiSC circle. My awareness and acceptance of my own priorities may be stronger, but so is my understanding that I can draw on each style as I see fit. I can practice being supportive, for example, and get much better at it. I don’t have to pigeonhole myself or others. I can ask them to flex outside their comfort zone, too.