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Understanding Behavioral Differences to Make You a Better Practitioner

Most of us go through our day in somewhat of a habitual way; we have our routines, our patterns, and our responses to what comes at us in our work and in our everyday life. One way to create the best interactions with others that result in the best possible outcomes is to understand your own DiSC behavioral style and how it affects your response to the needs of others. 

DiSC is an assessment tool that helps us pinpoint our behavior style and traits. This understanding is powerful because it can help us be better bosses, employees, colleagues, and practitioners. Having more awareness about how we behave—and how others behave—can help us communicate more effectively; in healthcare, this ability can be paramount to achieving desirable results.

I recently covered this topic in depth on an episode of BHG’s podcast “Perfecting Your Practice.” If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

What DiSC Means

Here’s a quick summary of the four main DiSC styles, what their letters stand for, and their behavior types:

D = Dominance: fast paced, results oriented, to the point, drivers

I = Influence: high energy, optimistic, talkative, quick

S = Steadiness: calm, good listeners, slow and steady, friendly

C = Conscientiousness: analytical, critical, thorough, detailed, methodical

Practical Tips for Using this Knowledge

Whether you’re interacting with patients, colleagues or supervisors, appreciating and reacting to behavioral differences can help you engage in more impactful ways. Knowing the different behavioral styles can help make some sense of our tendencies and reactions.

  1. First it starts with awareness. Notice your own tendencies, thoughts and responses, then attempt to understand the other person and from where his or her perspective might be coming. 
  2. Pay attention to the people you interact with and recognize their style. Is this person more fast-paced and outspoken, or quiet and thoughtful? Do they tend to be questioning and critical, or accepting and warm?
  3. Notice those style differences—their pace and what they focus on—and then respond in a way that speaks their language and helps you connect. For example, a patient who is a Dominant style will prefer direct communication that focuses on bottom-line results. The patient will want to interact someone who is confident and efficient. On the opposite side, a colleague who is a Steadiness style will appreciate someone who is friendly and caring, and approaches situations in a conversational way. They like reassurance and to know they are supported.
  4. And finally, try and notice the shift in the results as you take control of your reactions and connect with others. Make adjustments as needed.

At the end of the day, it’s about tailoring your approach to ensure more fluid communication in a behavioral language you both speak to ensure the best possible outcome for all.

Contact Allison at

Allison Whiting

In her role as a consultant and change agent, Allison works extensively with clients to build cohesive leadership teams, identify and develop leadership talent, improve performance management and talent planning, align organizations around key priorities, and build better communication. Contact Allison at