Man talking with alphabet letters coming out of his mouth. Communication, information, intelligence concept.jpegThe way we communicate with one another and the words we choose are vitally important. When we think of verbal communication, we often think about choosing the right words.  However, it’s just as important to avoid using the wrong words.  As research conducted by TTI Success Insights found, certain words can stop communication all together.  These words cause both our minds and mouths to close.  In this post we will summarize TTI’s research findings and provide tips to help you better communicate with different behavior styles.

The same word can be said to several people and evoke different emotions. TTI found that whether a word is evocative depends on a person’s behavioral style. TTI used DISC in its research.

is a behavioral style analysis method based on the following assumptions:

  • There are four basic behavioral styles.
  • Each style has its own characteristic strengths and weaknesses.
  • A person’s dominant style influences the way they act.
  • Understanding and adapting to the behavioral styles of others helps to create effective personal and working relationships.

The four primary behavioral styles comprising DISC  are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  People with the Dominance personality are all about results.  They like to solve problems, get things done, be in charge, and achieve goals.  Those with the Influence behavioral style are concerned with communication.  They are optimistic and outgoing, they like people and want to be liked in return, and enjoy bringing out the best in others.  People who like to help others tend to have the Steadiness behavioral style.  They focus on relationships and are loyal, supportive, and team players. Finally, people with the Compliance personality type are all about quality and accuracy.  They want to be right, so they carefully consider every decision they make.

Not a surprise, TTI’s research found that the types of words that shut down communication differ for each behavioral style. The following are examples of words and phrases to which individuals in each behavioral style reacted negatively.

  • Dominance: frequent interruptions, follow directions, and in my opinion
  • Influence: same for everyone, sophisticated, and requires study
  • Steadiness: substantial change, innovative, and play to win
  • Compliance: clever, educated guess, and experimental

TTI also studied which behavioral styles displayed the most avoidance to evocative words.  Individuals with the Dominance style reacted negatively to the words to avoid for every behavioral style.  However, they avoided the words of the three other styles more strongly than their own.  People with the Influence and Steadiness styles did not have strong reactions, even to their own words.  Finally, individuals with the Compliance style had the most avoidance of all groups, including to their own terms.

Trigger words can set the tone and outcome of a conversation.  Since first impressions become lasting impressions, conversations may never move beyond first impressions when these words are used.  Therefore, here are some things to keep in mind when communicating with people of different styles.  Pay the most attention to your word choice when speaking with people with the Compliance style since they react most negatively to the largest number of words.  Use influencing words when speaking with Dominance style individuals.  They are the most easily upset and most difficult to deal with when trigger words are used.

Being self-aware and aware of others will help you avoid trigger words and use good communication skills to build strong relationships.



Jeff Ruby

Jeff Ruby

Founder of RedRock Leadership

During the course of his professional career, he has worked in organizations ranging in size from a sole practitioner to Fortune 500. Included in his experience are roles in starting and selling companies, sales and sales management, training and development and executive coaching.

RedRock Leadership is a sales training and leadership development company committed to growing companies by growing individuals through on-going training infused with the competencies of emotional intelligence.