Tips for depersonalizing behaviors and minimizing conflict

Last week I was loading the dishwasher at home when my husband came in and started rearranging the dishes, even turning all of the silverware so they were pointing up.  Now, admittedly, I could have handled this better, but I told him ‘you seem to know better, you can do this’. I was getting a necessary task done – why did he have to micromanage it?  

It’s probably not surprising to most that we all have our own ways of doing things – but how conscious are we that we act on them and judge others by them?  This tends to happen a lot in the workplace when I hear things like “Why won’t they just let me do my work? We don’t need to have a 20 minute conversation about our weekends.”  or “My boss never indicates that he cares about me as a person, or the effort I put into my work.” Here we are judging others based on our basic behavioral tendencies and this, not surprisingly, increases our probability of conflict with others.  

Below is a list of typical responses we have to others – which do you think we do first and most often?

Judging…Understanding…Respecting…Appreciating…Valuing

Most of us will probably answer “judging” and this is a good thing in a lot of situations; we want to judge our environments to see that we are safe, that we can trust our surroundings.  However, most of us seem to stay stuck in this mode and not look at other ways of others’ behaviors. We tend to judge them based on how we operate and view their behavior negatively.

The goal here is to do more of the appreciating and valuing – something that can depersonalize behaviors and keep you out of conflict.  The best tool I’ve seen in my fifteen years at the university is the DiSC Personality Profile, which assesses people’s basic behavioral tendencies.  The hope here is that people are able to step back and see the behavior of others as unrelated to themselves; in other words, depersonalize how others naturally behave.  The other takeaway is that if you know how to approach someone of a different dimension, you will minimize the potential for conflict.  You will also be treating that person the way they prefer. Hopefully, when they learn your style, they will do the same. For a group to learn this maximizes the idea that we can all adapt to each other’s behavioral styles.  

How to recognize different behavioral dimensions:

  • Observe their behavior.
    • Do they talk more about people or tasks/things?  
      • People?  They may be an “I” or an “S”
      • Tasks?  They may be a “D” or a “C”
    • Do they move fast through projects or more methodically?
      • Fast? They may be an “I” or a “D”
      • Methodically?  They may be an “S” or a “C”
  • Based on what dimension you think the other person is, approach them based on their DiSC dimension (see the chart below).

 

Dimension                     Behaviors                        Value to the team          How to approach

D = dominant

Task oriented, fast-paced

Direct, decisive, risk taker, problem solver Bottom-line organizer, places value on time, innovative, challenges the status quo Be direct, straightforward and open to their need for results
I = influencer

People oriented, fast-paced

Enthusiastic, trusting, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, emotional Creative problem solver, great encourager & motivator, positive sense of humor, negotiates conflicts Be friendly and recognize their contributions
S = steadiness

People oriented, methodical

Good listener, team player, steady, predictable, understanding, friendly Reliable, dependable, loyal team player, patient and empathetic Be logical and systematic
Be relaxed, cooperative, and appreciative
C = conscientiousness

Task oriented, methodical

Accurate, analytical, conscientious, careful, fact-finder, high standards, systematic Realistic, even-tempered, thorough, sees things through Minimize socializing, give details, value accuracy


Lastly, look at a dimension that is different from you.  What do they have as a natural tendency that you don’t have?  Think of how you could begin to value these different strengths as way to play off of each other’s strengths rather than increase disagreement and division.   

Back to my husband, who is a “C” – he is task oriented and likes to do things the ‘right way’.  He would argue that we should wash the dishes so we don’t have to do them over. Seems reasonable, right?  I am an “I”, so I’d rather just get this mundane job done so I can go do something I enjoy. When I take a moment to value and appreciate what he brings to the household, I feel confident that our finances, household projects, and long-term planning  will be done accurately and with careful thought. He, in turn, values what I can bring to our family’s social dynamics, group settings, and how we solve problems.

Learn to watch for these behaviors in others and you’ll open up new ways to look at other people.  To learn more about DiSC, contact the Ombuds Office; we will get you in touch with trainings and resources. You can also visit their website at: https://www.thediscpersonalitytest.com/. 

By: Lisa Neale, Associate Director, University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus Ombuds Office