A few years ago, an experienced insurance provider was referred to me by a mutual colleague. During our meeting, we sat at a long conference table within a glass-enclosed room, visible to all who passed by. He faced the corridor while I faced the wall with my back. He sat near one end on a long side of the table after he showed me to a seat diagonally opposite to him.
Initially, he sat with his arms folded and rather tight in his posture. He began by asking me a series of questions about my background, my experience with coaching, and how I thought I could help him if I was not familiar with the nuances of his business. His manner was very straightforward, and the conversation was fast paced.
Picking up on aspects of his style, I responded by providing him with answers as quickly as the questions were coming at me. After a few moments, I noticed that he slowed down his rate and the interview became more comfortable. Slowly, his posture loosened, his body language shifted as he opened his arms and rested them on the table. Everything seemed more like familiar to me for a first meeting, an interview where I expected he was determining if I would be a good fit for him as his coach.
What he may not have realized is that I was reading his direct and assertive style and was merely reacting to it. Once he received the answers he was seeking, he seemed calmer. He then began discussing working together. (What I did not know was that he had already decided to hire me based on our mutual contact’s high recommendation.) When we are aware of someone else’s style, we can turn an adverse situation into a more productive one. My knowledge of the human behavioral theory based on four dimensions allowed me to “read” him more accurately. This theory serves as the foundation of DiSC®. It allowed me to analyze his approach to his environment, and quickly adapt this understanding to how I presented myself to him. This made him feel in control, something important to his style and permitted our interaction that day to ease into smooth sailing from then on.
"Body language is a very powerful tool.
We had body language before we had speech,
and apparently 80% of what you understand in a conversation is through the body, not the words." - Deborah Bull