Negotiating Conflicting Work Styles

We all run into situations where a person we have to work with makes us crazy (and we’ve all done it to others – perish the thought!).

In this month’s article, we are examining four common task-styles, based on the widely known and used DiSC® Profile (D = Dominance, I = Influence, S = Steadiness, C = Conscientiousness). What we’re hoping to offer is a simple approach to spotting patterns in your behaviour and the behaviour of others, and suggestions on how you can leverage these differences for everyone’s benefit.

As you read through them, identify your style (you may also find you use parts of all the styles or that you use one style at work and another at home), and consider the styles of key teammates you need to work with. If you’re having trouble working well with someone, you might even consider putting this on the table with them and talking about how you could meet your differing needs for mutual gain.

First we’ll discuss the styles themselves, and then we’ll examine how you can discuss a task with a “style-owner” that is different than you.

The Take-Charge Style
You are an insightful, fearless leader who can make fast decisions. (Think jet ski) You work well with others as long as you are in charge. If you’re not in charge or if you’re forced to do a task, you’ll be resistant: you’ll argue with the person or challenge the working methods, and resent both long after the task is underway. A solid plan and follow-through will nail those big-picture ideas.

The Steady Style
You’re reliable, calm and perceptive. You love routine, predictability, working at your own pace, and being in your own zone. (Think paddle boating) You do not like interruptions or challenges to your tried and true way of doing things, but as you tend not to express your disquiet, it’s easy to believe you’re not bothered by them. In truth, you will avoid a challenger or stubbornly resist a new way of doing things for extended periods. A dash of the unexpected will spice-up all that dependability.

The Accommodating Style
You are a team-player ‒ adaptive, positive ‒ an excellent negotiator and collaborator. (Think a chatty canoe trip) The relationships you have with others are most important, and you will compromise a stance if it conflicts with someone else’s. You like to make sure everyone is okay with the way things are going, which can become a momentum-stopping, tiring, unprofitable process. Knowing when and how to cut things off will give you the edge you’ve been looking for.

The Judicious Style
You’re a rational-thinker. You approach projects/tasks systematically. (Think smooth sailing) You like clearly defined responsibilities; and knowing what the rules are, you will follow them faithfully if they make good sense. Your joy is in the details. Judge and jury, your pronouncements can come across as all knowing which then makes it difficult for you to admit fault. A touch of humility will balance your delivery.


How-to Discuss a Task with a Style-owner.

As we believe a good discussion can go a long way to mitigating conflicts, here are some do’s and don’ts when dealing with people who have different styles than you.

In discussions with the Take-Charge Style:
Keep things practical and to the point. Do not criticize them in any way. If possible, step-back and let them take the lead.

In discussions with the Steady Style:
Seek common ground. Take time to be agreeable and don’t take advantage of their good nature. Don’t ask them to do things out of their comfort zone unless you’re willing to walk them slowly through each step.

In discussions with the Accommodating Style:
Look out for their too-ready impulse to follow your suggestions (As you discuss task-specifics, their dissent will become obvious). Stay calm and just keep ironing out the details. Discuss ‘what if’ scenarios.

In discussions with the Judicious Style:
Stick to task-specifics (what it entails; deadlines, etc.) As they like to avoid risk and want to know what they’re taking on, point out potential problems, but don’t offer solutions. Stay quiet; don’t interrupt; give them time to make their own assertions and summations.

We hope these suggestions have offered some insight into how to manage your differences better. While it’s probably true that a world where we’re all the same might be easier sometimes, it would be a lot less creative, and considerably more boring! Here’s to leveraging differences.


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