I'm a High S manager - does anyone have any advice on how to best respond to a High D peer or manager when put on the spot with a question?

My peer group and superiors are mostly made up of High D's and I's. often in meetings and one-on-one, i am asked direct questions and I have a "Deer in the Headlights moment" where I don't have an immediate response to their question.

I fear that I come across as less than effective and usually 10 mins after the event, I come up with the right response and reasoning.

i've tried "thats a great question. can I check that and get back to you in a minute." but I fear that it makes me look a bit out of my depth and not across the details like I should.

Does anyone have a better way to handle those moments?

Are there any particular behaviours that would be more effective?

bug_girl's picture

It helps if you think consciously about how to change your communication style.  There are several podcasts that deal directly with communicating with Ds.

It's something I had to learn and practice--as a woman in a male-dominated scientific field, I found the whole discourse of science was very D-flavored.  I had to learn to interrupt, to talk over people, and to generally be the alpha dog. 

The important thing for an S to remember is to Take Off that style when you are done.  Otherwise you just really annoy all the other styles you communicate with--and spouses ;D

You might find this article about communication styles interesting:

The hard part about being an S is that things HURT.  I take stuff personally sometimes when I should not.  I've gotten lots better with that over time, and hopefully you will too!

jhack's picture

I'm high D, high I.  First, the good news: they're asking what you think, so clearly you're perceived as having something to contribute.  It's worse to be ignored.  

You were vague on the types of questions being posed. 

If the questions are about your work, then you need to do more to be prepared.  There's no way around it.  Channel your inner C/D before the meeting,  Ask for an agenda (even informally) so you know where to focus.  Know the status.  Know the risks.  Know who's going to do what by when. 

For questions about policy and ideas that are developing during the meeting, remember this:  high I's and D's don't actually care if your idea is right or wrong.  They want to hear it, critique it, tear it apart, reassemble it, absorb it.  As bug_girl points out, this can hurt.  And they don't hold it against you if the idea doesn't play out!  (an aside: Richard Feynmann, the great physicist, used to say of his least-respected colleagues that they "weren't even wrong."   He admired colleagues whose ideas were wrong but interesting, or moved the conversation forward.  It's the folks who contributed nothing that were a problem).  

As an "S" you have a unique contribution to make:  you're thinking about the people and the team and the dynamics and the morale.  So bring those issues to the discussion.  If the question is about improving a process, talk about what the team needs (training?  different incentive package?) and let the D's argue about optimal step ordering. 

John Hack

TNoxtort's picture

This is a good thread for me. I have a lot of baby boomer high D bosses, that I feel just don't get it. I'm very much a driver, as I want to get things done. But my work (pharmaceutical) is actually more complex than most projects, so I want to make sure we take the right path (C) since otherwise we waste enormous resources, tap into the talents and ideas of others (I), and maintan our relationships for future goodwill (S). As a GenX, I'm get at comple things. It gets so frustrating that these baby boomer high Ds think there is a simple answer and have no appreciation for all the prep work I've done to put us on the right path. Also, I've had 3 different bosses over the last 4 years, and each one wants to repeat the mistakes of the previous one who took what appeared to be the simplest path. I wasted all of 2009 following a supervisor whom I knew was wrong, and my performance evaluation suffered because at the end of the year, I had nothing to show since it was the wrong path to take (and I knew it). That boss was switfly moved out at the end of the year.

I've listened to the High-D downfall podcast, but would appreciate referrals to other podcasts that discuss this as well. As I wrote on another thread, I've had several coworkers with my specialty leave this year, and more took packages that were offered last year. The number of us left are in the low single difits. All of us have PhDs in chemistry, pharmacy, or engineering, and none of us had experience in this specific area until we began working here (as in there's a huge learning curve to replace us).



jhack's picture
G3's picture

This topic interests me. I'm hoping that an MT or CT rep might be able to help redirect to the new pages. I think the links are dead b/c of the recent website upgrade/changes.

chaps's picture

Thanks Bug_girl and Jhack. I appreciate the help.

Thanks for the great advice.

"For questions about policy and ideas that are developing during the meeting, remember this:  high I's and D's don't actually care if your idea is right or wrong.  They want to hear it, critique it, tear it apart, reassemble it, absorb it. "

I never thought about it this way. When a D asks a question, I usually think " wow... why are they upset. whats wrong..?....." and try to find an answer that calms them down. This is the deer in the headlights moment

When guess what? they aren't mad/upset/cranky at all... they are just being polite in their own way.

Thanks for giving me an insight into how they think.


DesmondJ's picture

As a high S I have had similar problems in communication with my high D boss.  It was very clear to me early on, based on his body language, that he didn't want the background and history but a short answer.

Also, since I would ususally have a great answer 10 minutes after the topic changed (especially when he covered a topic that I wasn't prepared to discuss) , I needed to figure out  ways to improve.

1.  I spoke with his secretary to see if there would be agenda items or topics that were on his priorities that I may not be aware of.

2.  I joined Toastmasters.   A normal Toastmasters meeting has a "Table Topics" session where participants are asked questions out of the blue and have to answer on their feet and without preparation for 1 - 2 minutes.  While for me this is never easy, I have learned and observed how to respond effectively and succintly.

I found that the key for me was not to become flustered.

Good luck,