Our S-style co-workers are steady and dependable, but they can frustrate us with their resistance to change and indecisiveness. Can we work better with them by understanding their behavioral style?
Your S-style co-worker: Sam
Sam is your easy-going, dependable, and steady S-style co-worker. Your interactions are pleasant, but he’s more reserved than your I-style co-worker, Ian. You’ve noticed he has a tendency to resist change. He’s most comfortable with daily routine and being on schedule. He likes things a certain way, and gets irritated with you when you disrupt it. Sound familiar?
Sam’s Ideal Office Space
A great place to start is Sam’s office space. Sam sees his office as his sanctuary. He’s scattered it with personal touches like plants or a rug from home. He has pictures of his family and friends because they provide him a sense of security. It’s a comfortable place which he can retreat and slow down from the office chaos. He makes sure you’re comfortable and welcome because he enjoys cozy chats. You don’t see a lot of awards or selfies on display. He’s not really comfortable with the spotlight; he’s more your “behind the scenes” kind of guy. Sam does have whiteboards and wall calendars to keep him organized and on schedule. His inbox may be a little more cluttered from the projects he’s helping others with. Coworkers and you like to occasionally stop by because his office is homey and inviting, plus Sam’s always ready to listen.
Identifying a Sam in your life
Like your co-worker, C-style Carol, Sam likes to work in stable and scheduled environments. However, unlike Carol, he prefers work in a supportive and collaborative team. He likes you to be his sounding board and help him to make decisions. He’s a loyal and conscientious team member. Sam treats others sincerely and fairly, and expects the same in return. He likes working steadily within his clearly defined responsibilities and is always eager to help. Sam would rather focus on a few things at a time and gets frazzled when he gets off schedule. You’ve noticed he responds well when you’ve taken the time to give him well-thought out and genuine feedback.
Have you ever gotten an email from Sam when on vacation or after work!? Sam has always been reliable and highly conscientious about taking care of his responsibilities. Sam’s your “go-to guy” when you need help getting things done, but he’s not your team’s “go-getter” or a quick self-starter. He needs clear instructions and direction, but he is persistent once he gets going. He works diligently on building rapport with you and your team members.
Sam tends to be hesitant to get started without clear direction or consensus. When you ask him to take care of something and he agrees; it will likely get done. However, if you ask Sam to do something he opposes, he becomes your biggest roadblock. If Sam feels taken advantage of or wronged, you see his assertiveness come out. Have you every thought, “what just happened here,” because Sam suddenly blows up? Sam is emotional, but we tend not to see those emotions. Have you ever been unsure about how he really feels about some things? He may shut down instead of expressing himself or have it build to the point he explodes. You may be surprised, even shocked, when even-keel Sam starts listing all his gripes that have been building up that you weren’t even aware of.
Sam’s strength and when he over uses them
Sam, like all your co-workers, have a lot of strengths and areas he can develop. He’s your team’s “doer.” He leans on you or a trusted co-worker for advice or support. Sam can be single-minded in his persistence to get things done. He want to compete the task by himself even when you and others are available to help out. He’ll work steadily, without any thought of quitting, because he sees everything as important. He becomes overwhelmed and stressed because he’s taken on too many things for others, but he can’t say “no”. Ultimately, he comes to you because he feels he might be letting his coworkers down or he may even sound resentful having to help everyone out. You only now realize he’s upset because the task you gave him was not even urgent!
Sam is usually easy-going and calm, but if there’s a lot of chaos and change in the office he can dig in his heels or even shut down. He is stubborn about keeping to the plan and resists ideas that haven’t been already proven. You can’t read him. Is he interested in the project? Does he need any help? His actions are hesitant or passive at times; you’re not sure if he’s calm in the face of the storm or if he’s complacent.
How Sam prefers to communicate
Sam’s is not one to speak up or share his opinions in meetings. He usually lets everyone else speak and he listens attentively, but he will answer any questions when asked. He likes to hear everyone’s viewpoints. You notice Sam is most comfortable when he’s in small groups or one-to-one situations. He talks calmly and wants to genuinely get to know you. Sam will talk about topics he’s very comfortable with and probably asks you a lot of questions. He’s known as a great resource when someone needs to be taught or instructed how to do something since he is patient and will do his best.
Sam tends to avoid confrontation. In team meetings he may want to speak up, but when the discussion gets more heated he may fall into his comfortable listening role. Later, after the choice was made, he tells you his thoughts and ideas; which you realize would’ve been beneficial to the outcome. You ask him why didn’t he speak up? Sam says he wishes he had, but he wasn’t confident in his ideas and is now second-guessing himself.
Understanding Sam’s perspective and appreciating him differences
Sam sees the world as, “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” He can frustrate us with his refusal to think outside the box, but he also balances our team by keeping us on track. He’s the one who reminds us of the team and organization’s goals . Sam balances our fast-paced D-style Dianas and I-style Ians of our team, who like to push beyond our comfort zones and take risks. Consider the things Sam does for your team. Are there responsibilities that you prefer to avoid, such as assuming day-to-day administration or following up with clients? These may be right up Sam’s alley. Sam actually makes our jobs easier because he is comfortable assuming roles and responsibilities that we may not be. Take a step back and appreciate what Sam brings to your team that makes it more successful.
How we can work better with Sam
Remember there is no DISC style that is better or worse. We all have similarities and we all have differences in our styles. Each one of us brings our own strengths and areas of development to our team. We are more complex than just our DISC style, but knowing DISC styles can help you better understand yourself and others.
You need to mean what you say when interacting with Sam. You mentioned getting together after work on Friday, but you forgot; now Sam seems distant toward you at work on Monday. Sam can view your intentions as promises. He could practice speaking up for himself; you can help by reassuring him that his opinions have value. The next time you give him feedback, take extra time to make it more thoughtful and meaningful. Sam can practice focusing on a few tasks at a time so he doesn’t get overloaded. Help him prioritize which tasks are urgent and which ones can wait, and then practice sticking to it.
Think of your own Sam. Now that you have a better understanding of his DISC style are there any simple adjustments you could make (e.g., slow down, provide support and reassurance, build rapport, etc) the next time you interact with him?