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  • Mathew van Beek

A Quick 'DISC' Guide to managing yourself & others in difficult get-together's - esp

Christmas - “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” ... and for some it really is the season to be jolly; families coming together and celebrating in a spirit of togetherness and joy.... but for others, family time together can be awkward, challenging and sometimes intolerable!

So.... how can you navigate Christmas successfully with family you may not communicate much with for the rest of the year? The answer could be….. the gift that keeps on giving at any time of year – ie the DISC [behavioural model]

The following time-tested 5-step strategy will help you not just survive the season but enjoy it too – even when difficult people are present! How beneficial would it be, not just for yourself, but for others around you if you found the key to navigating any tricky family gathering! That really would be an amazing gift!

The Festive 5:

1. Have a good chat…..with yourself

The first thing to do is have a good honest chat with yourself [get your partner to do this as well] and recognise how certain people will ” push your buttons” in very particular ways. Once you have identified them and what they do, you will be in a much better position to work towards a positive outcome – you really can CHOOSE how to respond – you aren’t FORCED by anyone to respond in a given way .... the choice really is yours! But HOW??

2. Start with the end in mind

What outcome do you desire? Is it a realistic outcome? What benefits would this outcome give you and others? On a scale of 1-10 with 1 being not very important and 10 being an absolute necessity, how important are these benefits to you?

3. Know your own DISC style

There’s an old saying “Before you can effectively manage others, you need to be able to manage yourself.” In this scenario, if you understand your DISC style and how you may come across to others (in this case the ‘difficult’ person in question) you will be able to influence the outcomes.

4. Recognise other people’s DISC style

Once you are aware of your own style, you can then begin to identify the other person’s ‘behavioural model’. What is their DISC style? What is their preference in terms of communication?

Here is the DISC Behavioural Model:

D Styles - Outgoing & Task

D’s can be very direct in their communication style to the point of being blunt – some ‘D’s’ respect people being (respectfully) direct back with them: this makes them the easiest DISC style to recognise and understand. BUT D’s who are Narcissists can be the MOST challenging to deal with as everything has to be about them!! Try asking neutral Qs which ‘reflect back’ their determination to be right!

I Styles - Outgoing & People

I’s like to talk, they generally have stories to tell and like to feel they are keeping the party alive. They will keep going trying to keep everyone involved in activities until they [or their ‘audience’] fall asleep watching White Christmas on TV !!

S Styles - Reserved & People

S Styles usually work for a win-win and want everyone to be happy and to get along with each other. Probably the most self-sacrificing of the DISC types and will put the needs of others first - They generally love their family time together and want it to be harmonious and happy.

C Styles - Reserved & Task

C’s are quieter and pensive, preferring to sit back and think things through. They probably won’t express their happiness or unhappiness as they often prefer to internalise their thoughts and feelings. The great news is, if there is a present that requires some assembly - these people are your best bet for a successful assembly outcome!

WARNING – there are TOXIC people who don’t really fall into these categories – [but usually inhabit D’s and I’s categories] –Narcissists are VERY hard work [arrogant, lack of empathy & consideration, excessive need for admiration, cocky, manipulative, selfish, patronising, demanding] and those on the milder end of the psychopath spectrum can be really awkward to ‘neutralise' because they enjoy making others feel they aren’t having a good time because OTHER PEOPLE aren’t satisfying their needs – and therefore ‘others’ are responsible for any bad behaviour they may exhibit [they are superficially/selfishly charming, lack empathy, don’t care who they hurt if it means they get what they want, inflated sense of self, make others feel guilty, erratic/unpredictable] – all you can do is neutralise their influence by either not inviting them in the first place’ or if you really feel they have to be invited then refusing to respond negatively to their barbed comments [try constantly asking them Qs about what it is they are finding difficult rather than ‘agreeing’ – look for ‘exceptions’ to their tales of mistreatment etc] or you could just leave [or ask them to leave....?]

5. Modify to manage

Once you have identified the DISC behavioural style of yourself and others you will be well on the way to understanding their communication preferences and putting them at their ease. Choosing to adapt your style to those you are engaging with will help to ensure that this Christmas has a better chance of being a happier one for all.

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