Character flaw? Really??

Posted in: Behavior, Collaboration, DISC, Teams  on June 16, 2015

Character flaw? Or behavior difference?

Behavior is measured on the DISC assessment.

If you are familiar with the DISC behavior profile you will understand what I mean when I describe myself as having a high D/I and a low S/C behavior style.

If you are NOT familiar with the DISC it measures our tendencies when dealing with the “four P’s” of behavior:

  1. Dominant with Problems (D)
  2. Influential with People (I)
  3. Steady work Pace (S)
  4. Compliant with Procedures (C)

The high D/I style suggests that I am direct and dominant (“D”) when approaching problems or tasks, and inspiring or influential (“I”) when it comes to interacting with people. Different behavior styles are not character flaws!

It also suggests that I am flexible – NOT structured or systematic (“S”) – in how I approach my work pace. And that I am, uh, stubborn and (sigh) careless with details – NOT cautious or compliant (“C”) – with following procedures.

And, as I do wherever I go, I took my high D/I style with me to do a workshop for a group of high S/C individuals who are all those things I am not – structured, systematic, compliant and detail-oriented.

It did not go well.

  • I neglected to pay close enough attention to the behavior styles of the group and I approached the workshop in my typical enthusiastic, direct, engaging style. It was a little too energetic, and therefore overwhelming, not engaging, for them.
  • I brought the wrong power point presentation. It was close, mind you … one I had previously done with their executive team and then edited for the purpose of doing it with this team. But it was, nonetheless, the wrong one and some of the references and dates in the body of the presentation were no longer accurate and didn’t match the handouts.
  • I failed to prepare them for what they considered to be the “intrusive” work we would do as part of the team building process. It included answering questions such as, “In order to do my best work this is what I need from you …”

The bottom line was that I established myself – once and forever – as someone who lacks attention to detail. Indeed, no matter how hard I try and how diligently I focus on the minute details, in virtually every subsequent contact with them I have missed a relevant detail, supporting their belief that I have what they consider to be an egregious character flaw in my lack of attention to detail.

For the record, this is a trait of mine that I do not like or admire or appreciate. It is frustrating and discouraging to make copious lists and try all sorts of other behavioral adaptations to ensure that I attend to all the relevant details and then discover that I missed something anyway. But a character flaw?

In my book a character flaw would be more along the lines of lacking integrity; not caring how your behavior negatively impacts someone else; dishonesty; being untrustworthy, unkind, entitled, or jealous. It might even include not giving somebody a little bit of grace for their human limitations. Hmmmm.

If the lack of attention to detail is, in fact, a character flaw then I see it as equally damning as the inability to interact comfortably with people in any situation; or the inability to stand up before a few hundred people and present information that is inspiring, engaging and meaningful – activities that are usually difficult for the high S/C type. (Excuse me while my D/I is showing.)

Of course, I don’t think that is at all damning. Or flawed. Or even “bad”. Perhaps a challenge, a limitation or a non-talent but certainly not a character flaw.

It. Just. Is.

Nobody's Perfect resizedAnd, therefore, it is, simply, something I have to deal with and cannot ignore because, after all, I am not perfect.

So put me in front of a few people or a few hundred people with a topic I am knowledgeable about. I’ll have a great time and they’ll leave feeling inspired and encouraged. But ask me to ensure no details are overlooked in the process? Well, unfortunately, that I cannot guarantee.

All in all it was a good lesson for me. I pay more attention to my audience now, adjusting how I present information accordingly. And when that high S/C type drives me nuts with details or thoroughness in finishing a project I remember to give them some grace, appreciate what their style brings to getting things done well, and – hopefully – laugh about the differences.

DISC is a great tool to increase self-awareness and appreciate different approaches. It is invaluable in decreasing team misunderstanding that contributes to unproductive conflict. If you want to learn more about DISC check out our website or contact us. We’ll give you one with our compliments so you can see the impact it can have when you recognize and appreciate the different behavior styles that make up your team.


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