Inspiration Wednesday: Gates on Communication Tools

Bill Gates, innovative business visionary, philanthropist and founder of the world’s largest software company said, “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”

The act of merging the practical and the creative sides of business can be very tough. Creatives are generally a very passionate, sensitive group of individuals who are often misunderstood by the “Suits” that predominate the corporate world. Why? We simply process both verbal and non-verbal information differently. Now, the folks in finance or sales can be just as passionate and sensitive as the designer or writer on your in-house team.

I believe when you partner passion and sensitivity with the ability to see combinations that go virtually unnoticed by most, and juxtapose those ideas together in an effort to communicate something that’s aesthetically pleasing, the potential risk for miscommunication and conflict will undoubtedly occur. Think of all the potential miscommunications and conflicts that can arise when everyone on the same team is a creative thinker!

effective communication

DISC is a great tool for learning the behavioral and communication styles of each member contributing to an in-house team. It can be a fun and enlightening activity, especially when sharing the results of the assessment with each other. Check with your Human Resource manager or corporate trainer and ask them to conduct a DISC assessment with your team.

DISC is an acronym that represents the four basic behavioral styles of most people: “D” represents Driving behaviors. “I” represents Influencing behaviors. “S” represents Supportive behaviors. And finally “C” represents Cautious or Conscientious behaviors.


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After answering several questions about yourself, the assessment will generate over 15 to 25 pages of interesting information about how you perceive yourself and how others perceive you in varying degrees of low and high pressure situations. It also reveals how you prefer to communicate and how you do and don’t like to be communicated with by others. The report will show both your natural behavioral style (how you are at home) and your adapted behavioral style (how you most likely are at work).

Some people have used DISC incorrectly by thinking for example that all “D’s” are natural born leaders destined for success or maniacal brutes who’ll annihilate anyone who gets in their way to the top. Some people believe if you’re designated an “I” you’re probably too friendly, naive and basically a spineless doormat.

Don’t fall into these traps. The best thing to remember about DISC is there are great strengths and weaknesses in all personality types. DISC can help each member of your team confirm things they may have already known and discover new things about their personality and communication style. The great thing about DISC is each person that takes the assessment will be given a framework to minimize their weaknesses and capitalize on their strengths.

Driving Personalities
People with driving personalities tend to be self-starters, thrive on competition, hate routine, fight hard for what they believe, and achieve success by taking decisive steps towards their goals. Martha Stewart is a good example of someone who displays high “D” behavioral characteristics.

Influencing Personalities
People with influencing personalities tend to be very persuasive, thrive on social contact, like freedom from control, have excellent people skills and achieve success by persuading others to work with them towards a goal. Oprah Winfrey is a good example of someone who displays high “I” behavioral characteristics.

Supportive Personalities
Persons with supportive personalities tend to thrive in relaxed, friendly environments, like routine, prefers to work steadily and dislikes deadlines; they have strong attachments to people, places, home and enjoy working closely with members of a team to achieve a goal. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is a good example of someone who displayed high “S” behavioral characteristics.

Cautious or Conscientious Personalities
People with “C” characteristics tend to be very conscientious, like time to plan, want to do things the “right way” and desires to work within rules and procedures to ensure success in meeting goals. Bill Gates is a good example of someone who displays high “C” behavioral characteristics.

Learning how each person on your team likes to receive, process and give information based of their natural behavioral style has helped me and each member of my team know how best to communicate with each other. Give communication tools like DISC a try and remember to make it fun. Mastering better, effective communication is a serious journey, but getting there doesn’t have to be.


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