I have a lot of ideas, and I love to share those ideas. I tend to be energetic and full of stories. I also love exclamation points!!!! Early in my career, I assumed that my co-workers all appreciated my endless ideas and exuberance. I have since learned that my communication preferences actually don’t appeal to everyone. As a matter of fact, some find my style overwhelming, even my own kids! When I first realized this, it was a bit of a shock, but I went on to use this knowledge to be a much better parent.
I teach corporate education classes and my most popular class is the one about communication styles and how we can adapt our preferred communication style to be more effective when working with others. People intuitively get that we can learn how to communicate better with our colleagues. We also get that our communication styles can play a part in how we interact with our partners. But, we seem to think that communicating with our kids should just come naturally. We forget that they, too, have communication preferences, and it can be shocking to realize that those preferences might be different than our own.
There are many models that sort people based on their communication or personality preferences. They all have merit and can help you understand your natural preferences and how those preferences play a part in the way you parent, but some of those models can be pretty complex. The model I would like to introduce you to is called DISC. I like this model because it is so simple. There are just 4 styles – D, I, S, and C. I have even taught my teens this model, because it helps them understand why we sometimes can’t seem to connect and it helps them appreciate that their friends have different preferences, too.
Here is a review of each of the four styles and how they might affect your parenting style:
D (Dominant) – This style is called dominant because they like to be in charge. They are determined, quick thinkers who are often in a hurry. If you are a D parent, you tend to think of yourself as the boss. You might come across as authoritarian to your kid, but you feel like you are just doing what a parent should do. Your biggest challenge is to make yourself slow down and listen to your kids. If you have a D child you will want to allow them to have some control on the rules and expectations; otherwise, you could have some major power struggles between the two of you. If you have an I or S child, your brusque tone could upset them and make them feel like you are being mean, even if you don’t intend it that way. Your C child might get stressed by your hurried approach.
I (Influential) – The I style is called Influential. This style is the idea-person who cheers others on and likes to tell stories and have fun. They use their outgoing approach to motivate and entertain others. As an I parent, you tend to always be on the go and looking for fun activities. If Plan A doesn’t work, you can quickly switch to Plan B. Connecting with people and having fun is more important than details or discipline. You will want to help your fellow I children to learn organization skills. For those D and C kids, make sure you have boundaries and follow through with discipline so that your kids respect your authority. Realize that all of the other styles will get exhausted or irritated by too much socializing so give them a chance to say “no” to party invites or other activities.
S (Steady) – The S style is called Steady because they are loyal and dependable. They are great listeners and like to help people. If you are an S parent you tend to be patient and selfless in your pursuit to make everyone happy. You will do just about anything to avoid conflict and to keep the status quo. You are a natural nurturer, so you tend to be your stereotypical ideal parent; however, you also need to remember to nurture yourself. If you are an S and you have a D child, you will need to learn to hold your ground even if that results in some conflict. You will probably have a pretty easy time connecting with your I and S kids, but you might struggle to get your C kid to talk to you. Be patient with those Cs, and eventually they will open up to you.
C (Conscientious) – This style is called the conscientious style because they like to follow the rules and establish processes and procedures. They like details and they are absolute perfectionists. If you are a C parent you are great at gathering data and analyzing solutions. You keep everyone on schedule, but you get stressed when something goes awry. Be sure to build in time for the unexpected and when things don’t go as planned remind yourself you have survived before and you will make it through this as well once you regroup and create a new plan. If you have an I or S child, make an extra effort to be affectionate and to listen to them. For D children, be tolerant of their desire to tackle challenges and move quickly, but be sure to explain to them the boundaries.
That was a very quick crash course on DISC. If you would like to keep reading about this, check out this site.