Communicating Up Using the DISC

One of the most useful application of the DISC is learning how to adapt your style when communicating to a manager or boss. In order to do that two things need to happen. First, you have to know and understand your own style. Second, you have to know and understand the style (or styles) of your boss.

Here are 4 communication tips for how to “communicate up” using the DISC:

  1. When presenting information to a D style, remember D’s want results. Be direct, get to the point, and keep it short. Be prepared and focus on results/outcomes. You can save the D style from too meetings by offering to give the bottom line afterward. Do not interrupt the D style every time something comes up; take things as far as you can on your own, and save the rest for one discussion.
  2. When presenting information to the I style, remember I’s want the “experience.” Meet face-to-face and allow lots of time to relate and socialize. The I style likes and wants high concepts and big ideas, not lots of facts and figures. You can follow up with a short summary of the decisions that were made and the next steps.
  3. When presenting information to the S style, remember S’s want security. For them, support, stability, and collaboration are very important. Be patient when discussing ideas. Connect with them personally and be sure to respond to the S’s request for input on a project. Even if you think it’s a waste of time, the S style will still want inclusion and consensus.
  4. When presenting information to the C style, remember C’s want information. Their priorities are being accurate, maintaining stability, and challenging assumptions. C styles prefer to receive information and reports in writing, and in detail. Be prepared and have your data and facts. Stick to the agenda and discuss all options.

Written By: Steve Nguyen, Ph.D.
Leadership Advisor & Talent Consultant


Straw, J. (2002). The 4-Dimensional Manager: DiSC Strategies for Managing Different People in the Best Ways. San Francisco, CA: Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

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