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Submitted by kurtsteinkraus on


Hi all,

Do you have any suggestions of books or other reading material that would help a High SC to understand how to behave differently so as to address some of their characteristic weaknesses?

I'm looking to help a direct report address roughly the MTDISC's first two paragraphs of likely weaknesses:

High S/High C’s sometimes get bogged down in the details. If you need to know something that isn’t known, that may delay your work, to the irritation of others. You may want to spend more time discussing details, when a project leader or teammate believes it’s relatively unimportant. This can strain your relationships.
Others may see you as distant or unfriendly. When you are particularly concerned, others may hear your comments as blunt, or tactless. You see it as stating the facts, but when others disagree, this can lead to tension.

I'm looking for a book that has actionable recommendations along the lines "ask yourself whether you think you can resolve the detail yourself, and if so, plan to do that, rather than not starting your work until it's resolved by someone else".  I'm comfortable asking for the behaviors; I'd like the descriptions of behaviors.

I'm not looking to convince my direct with the book.  I don't think that simply reading a book will change their mind.  I'm looking for a list of suggested behaviors that they can follow even if they don't (yet) believe me that it will help.  I can try to write such a list myself, but I'd ideally like to use something that's already well thought through and tested, rather than something that I'd need to iterate on.

Any pointers would be much appreciated!

(Also, if there's a Manager Tools podcast episode that suggests behavior changes for high SCs—rather than how to interact with a high SC as the other person—please point me at it!  I've looked through the Map of the Universe and searched "high C" but didn't turn up anything promising.)


jrb3's picture
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"START HERE | MTDISC | MTDISC High S" and "START HERE | MTDISC | MTDISC Groups / Combination Profiles" sections seem like they'd contain relevant podcasts.  eg "Task Management and the High S" under the first, and "DISC - I'm A Combination" under the second.

AmandaChase's picture
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Hi Kurt, 

While this is not a book recommendation, this is a good listen when discussing making our behaviors more adaptable. I would also encourage him to read through his MTDISC assessment pages that are past the strengths and weaknesses. It will give some insight on different behaviors that he can engage in depending on who he is communicating. Remember communication is what the listener does, so your direct would first have to be able to identify the behaviors of others in order to adapt his behaviors to better communicate.

kurtsteinkraus's picture
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Thanks, both, for the suggestions!  I read through those podcasts, and while I agree that they're on topic, AFAICT they still contain relatively few concrete scenarios in which they suggest behavior changes.  At least, not what I was looking for, unfortunately.

I wrote the below list of example behavior changes after watching this person get themselves into situations and thinking how I might respond or how I might advise others to respond.  Being somewhat of a high C myself helped!  I'm adding this list to the forum post (after months of delay, sorry) in case it can help out someone else in the future.



Try to say something affirming before objecting or asking questions.  This tells the listener that your objections/questions should be interpreted as trying to help.

  • When someone asks "could you do this?", you could first respond with "yes, I could!" or "that looks like a helpful thing to do!" before following up with "it's not my job" or "I don't have time".
  • When someone asks "what do you think?", you could first respond with "that sounds interesting!" or "I can see what you'd want that" before following up with "I don't see how that will work" or "I don't think we should do that".
  • When someone asks "do you have any objections?", which is unfortunately worded in a way that is likely to provoke confrontation, you could still first respond with "hm, I can think of several reasons to support this..." before following up with "...but also some potential problems".

Try to phrase concerns as questions instead of statements.  This both comes across as less confrontational and is also more likely to produce a useful outcome of the conversation.  The more specific you can make your question, the more likely the respondent is to be able to give you an answer that you find helpful.

  • Rather than saying "no, I can't do that", you could respond with "could we talk through this concern that I have?" or "hm, how do you think I could overcome this obstacle?" or "do you have suggestions for how to do step X?".
  • Rather than saying "I don't see how that will work", you could respond with "how will that work?" or "how will this particular aspect work?" or "how will part A work together with part B in situation C?".
  • Rather than saying "I don't have time", you could respond with "how urgent is this?" or "by when does this need to be done?" or "shall I prioritize this over current project X?".

If you have questions or concerns that you might reasonably be able to deal with yourself, try to do that.  You can always ask them later.

  • If you have a limited-scope question (more like "what is the value of X?" than "how do I design this?") about work that you've been assigned, try to answer that question yourself before asking someone else.  If you're unable to answer it and need to ask someone else, also let the person know what you considered that didn't answer the question.
  • If you ask your lead a question and he responds "I think you can answer that question", then try to answer that question yourself.  If you're unable to answer it, return to your lead later and explain what you tried and how that didn't answer the question.
  • If you have a concern about work that you've been assigned, see whether you can convince yourself that the concern can be addressed by some additional/future work, or whether that concern is the "least bad" option given the larger context and so the team will need to live with it.  If you're still concerned, then when you raise the concern with others, include the thought process you went through to try to figure out how to resolve the concern.

Focus on high value or high risk questions/concerns.  We make lots of compromises and sub-optimal decisions for the sake of pragmatism and forward progress.  It isn't worth the time and effort spent to get everything exactly right.

  • If you have a concern about some aspect of work that you're assigned, then before raising the concern, consider the additional value that the team will get by having the concern addressed.  If that value is small, or if you can get most of that value by taking unilateral action, then do that instead of raising the concern.
  • If you have a question about some aspect of your team's work, then before asking the question, ask yourself what might change as the result of asking that question.  If the answer is "not very much" or "nothing important", then maybe skip asking the question, or batch it together with other such questions to be answered during some Friday weekly review time.

Overall, focus on the intent and bigger picture behind your interactions with other people and their requests and suggestions.  Other people probably don't care solely about the answer to exactly this question or doing the design in exactly this way.  Rather, people have some end goal in mind, and they're trying to get there one step at a time.  Focus on helping them modify their steps to achieve the overall goal, rather than addressing each step in isolation.

  • When someone asks "can you do X?", their goal is likely to get X done.  If you respond "no", then you've closed the door to forward progress and haven't helped them get closer to their goal of getting X done.  Responses like "I could do X in 2 months, or sooner if I could pause project Y" let the person know their options for getting you do X.
  • When someone asks "what do you think of my design?", their goal is likely to declare the design done and then start implementation.  If you respond "I think it won't work", you haven't told them what your objection is nor given them the option to address your objection.  Responses like "I think it will work, except that I don't know how you'll address situation X" let the person know that you actually agree with most of the design and also focus the person on the particular aspect of the design that you've noticed a potential problem with.