Recognizing DISC Personalities through Body Language
A Body Language Expert’s Insights
From Patti Wood’s book, “The Conflict Cure” Copyright 2007
How can you recognize immediately the best way to interact with someone by reading their body language? How do you look to others? What does your body language say about you and how can you read other people and access their personality?
Your personality affects your preferred way of moving, standing, gesturing, speaking and other body language and paralanguage. You can look at someone’s body language and listen to their paralanguage to note what personality style they are using.
Using a simple version of the DISC personality as your guide, you can quickly figure a match of voice and body language to the four major personality styles. The DISC is a personality assessment first developed by William Moulton Marston PHD who has used various labels for the four personality types.
The Driver who wants to "Get it Done"
The Influencer who wants to "Get Appreciated"
The Supporter who wants to "Get Along"
The Careful Corrector who wants to "Get it Right"
Here is the body language of each type:
The Driver - "Get it Done" nonverbal cues body language is strong and confident. They will bound into the room. They are directing, forceful and commanding. When they make eye contact it will be strong and direct. Their voice can be loud and forceful and they can talk at a rapid fire pace. They may interrupt and get loud to get what they want. They love you to be quick, direct and to the point. This type values brevity and makes quick decisions. They want you to tell them short and sweet what you do and what you want them to do. Forget the boring details, and for goodness sake don’t repeat yourself. Make your email requests to them in bullet points. They can juggle multiple tasks but they like the feeling of getting a task done. You may want to break long-term, detailed projects down into mini projects for them. They like to get things done and then move on. They gain energy from being in charge and meeting challenges. Their gestures and body language are forceful and commanding. When you are with them know what you want, say it and stick to it. Make your body language confident and your eye contact direct and your voice strong and fast paced.
The Influencer - "Get Appreciated" is an expressive speaker one you can easily recognize. They are typically charismatic and have a happy smile. Their voice can be expressive and engaging to listen to. They often talk with their hands and sometimes their entire bodies. They give a full range of facial expressions and you can easily tell how they are feeling. They laugh easily and are enthusiastic. They keep their hearts open as they gesture. They may move and talk fast and seem to always be having fun. They love for you to be excited and enthusiastic. This type of person wants to be challenged. They enjoy learning about new and exciting things so if you present them with a new project they may jump on it just because it is new. But because they love new stuff they are easily bored and may not follow through on work that requires details or lots of small print forms and multiple steps. If you need that kind of detail work from them, you may have to check back with them or provide some sort of social interaction or pat on the back feedback when they do. For example, when they turn in their monthly time sheets or travel vouchers on Friday let them know that they will get to sit and have coffee with you. Or instead of emailing in work have them present it at the weekly meeting! When communicating with an Influencer keep your face to face or over the phone delivery lively. They like bold statements, new directions, initiatives, bright ideas and enjoy a good sense of humor. Expressive types like to lead and influence others so if you give them tasks where they can get other people on board you will have a highly motivated worker. If they are excited about your project they will be your rah rah cheerleader. They like to be noticed and appreciated. It’s like food and water for them and feeds them deeply. To get what you want from an Influencer make your body language energetic and open and your voice up beat and fast paced.
The Supporters – "Get Along" are usually working behind the scenes to care for others. They are friendly and warm and like a relaxed pace. They are steady and stable and so is their smile. It goes up slightly at the corners, but not too far. It comes on the face slowly and stays on there subtly like the Mona Lisa or how Brad Pitt’s smile is warm and lingers sweetly on his gorgeous face. They speak slowly and thoughtfully. If you are a Supporter people say you are a good listener, though sometime you feel that is because nobody lets you talk. But, typically though you may be interrupted you don’t mind listening when someone needs you. In fact, Supporters give great listening body language. They lean in, nod their heads, and show sympathetic facial expressions. If you are a Supporter, you are helpful, and nurturing of others. You are the shoulder to cry on and the one who remembers birthdays. They keep American Greeting cards, Email greeting cards and 1-800 Flowers in business. Supporters will reach out and smile and shake hands and or hug. They like warmhearted, friendly conversations and a relaxed pace. Ask about their weekend and their kids before you ask for work from them. In fact, you should build relationship credits with them every week so when you really need them you have relationship credits to draw on when you are in dire straits. Also know a warm hello and a sincere thank you are as necessary as food and water to the Supporter. They think carefully before taking any action and they don’t like change so you really need to talk them through any new projects or changes in old routines to get them to buy in and follow through otherwise they will keep doing it the old way or what they may consider the way that has "always worked before." They need to feel a sense of security before moving forward. The best way to get work from a Supporter is to become their friend. Make your body language warm, smile, and your voice soft and relaxed.
The Careful Corrector - "Get it Right" - they love to solve problems and figure things out. While they are the great "thinkers" their body language may be reserved. They may have their hands in their pockets or behind their back or have their hand pressed with the thumb across the chin with their fore finger up as they think. You may not be sure what they are thinking but they are thinking. Their face is not super expressive. They may even look a bit critical as you talk. Their voice is typically kept at a low volume and slow paced and may sound monotone to other types especially Drivers and Influencers. Though they feel things deeply they may seem to others to be unemotional and monotone. They seem smart, analytical and they know the facts. In my research in the last 30 years on how DISC and other personalilty indicators are perceived through nonverbal communication I have found that when people are presenting facts and or reading from notes or reading slides in a power point presentation the voice and body language can sound like a Get it Right. In everyday business interactions true Get it Rights are extremely organized and they won’t talk till they have something to say. They will focus on preparing the specific words and facts. And while they may say nothing or very little after a face to face meeting or during a conference call they are very likely to send you a long email or text later, after they have had the silence and time to get what they wanted to say together.
So now you know how to present your ideas, projects and tasks to others. You can get more accomplished with a lot less stress.
Called "The Gold Standard of Body Language Experts" by the Washington Post and credited in the New York Times with bringing body language to the national consciousness, Patti Wood is a true expert. She speaks and consults to Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, Merk, GE, Hewlett Packard, The Kroger Company, McGraw-Hill, DuPont, Prudential, Chase, Porsche and Deloitte to enhance their communication skills. Patti taught Nonverbal Communication at four universities, and has authored 8 books including "Success Signals Body Language."
She is viewed as a Body Language expert by law enforcement, judges and you see her regularly on CNN, Fox News and Fox Business Network, the BBC, PBS, Good Morning America, The Discovery Channel, Regis and Kelly, Bravo, Dr. Drew, Nancy Grace and The History Channel. You see her quoted every week in publications such as The Week, The Wall Street Journal, Psychology Today, Bloomberg Businessweek, The Huffington Post, Oprah, Esquire, USA Today, People, "US" Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Fortune and many more.