Is someone in your office giving you a hard time, communication-wise? Does talking to that person feel like trying to break through a thick concrete wall with a tiny wooden hammer?

If so, you might be dealing with someone whose communication style differs from yours. Specifically, your DISC profiles might be clashing with each other.

What is DISC?

DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. It’s also the name of a tool to assess your general behaviors at work; for example, do you actively involve yourself in office matters, or do you prefer to stay in the background and offer support from there?

When you understand your profile, and those of others, you’ll find it easier to capitalize on your strengths, improve on your weaknesses, and make the workplace a more pleasant and productive environment for everyone.

Everyone has all four traits described in DISC, to some degree. It’s a matter of figuring out which set of traits your troublesome co-worker leans on the most, and adjusting your communication style accordingly.

Here’s what you need to know about the people whose personality traits fit best under the following categories.

The Directors (D)

A lot of D people are in leadership positions, and for good reason. Skilled at visualizing the big picture, D people tend to be confident, decisive and organized. They can also be argumentative, controlling and unwilling to listen to anyone whose opinions differ from theirs. Because they’re hard to approach, they might be oblivious to their subordinates’ inability to keep up with their demands.

How to Communicate With Them:

Be confident, prepared and respectful when approaching a D person. Present your arguments as concisely as possible, so you won’t run the risk of wasting their time. Make sure you emphasize the “this action will lead to that result” parts, since D people are goal-oriented.

Don’t argue with them for argument’s sake or heap a ton of negativity on them. Avoid drowning them in an ocean of details or saying “You’re wrong.” Instead, begin sentences with “This could be better if.”

The Inspirers (I)

A typical I person is easy to spot. Just hang around the sales or customer service departments where a ton of human interaction is necessary. You could say that these people are the heart of the office, with their cheerful, devil-may-care attitude and their tendency to talk, and talk and talk. They care about freedom and popularity above everything else – sometimes at the expense of office rules and professional relationships with co-workers.

How to Communicate With Them:

Talk to them the way you’d talk to a friend. Weave your facts and figures into a story. Remember to ask them about personal-yet-safe topics like how their day went, and prepare to share a similar story of your own. Let them know that their feelings, positive or otherwise, are valid.

Don’t give them the barest facts and figures without any context whatsoever, or let them figure things out on their own. Don’t shy away from small talk completely. Avoid being cold toward them, and don’t let them know that they’re nothing more than a cog in the wheel.

The Supporters (S)

If you’re not sure about someone’s DISC profile, it’s safe to assume they fall under this category. A person with a dominant S style is patient, reliable and even-tempered. They do their best to maintain harmonious relationships at work, though this can lead to an avoidant style of managing conflict. They value job security the most, and may be uncomfortable with change.

How to Communicate With Them:

Use a friendly tone and positive body language. When talking to them about major changes in the company, frame it in terms of how it’ll help them keep their job. Give them enough time to make decisions based on the facts you give them. Always reassure them.

Don’t be overly direct or confrontational. Don’t invade their personal space or pressure them into doing things against their will. Never belittle their accomplishments.

The Conscientious (C)

Accountants, programmers and statisticians usually have a C profile. They love details, and making sense of the same. They tend to get absorbed in their work, to the point that they come across as more interested in facts and figures than people. They seem pessimistic and humorless, but only because they want to know all the facts before arriving at a definite conclusion.

How to Communicate With Them:

Back up your arguments with plenty of solid data. Prepare to argue with a devil’s advocate. Give them time to consider and analyze what you just said. Be confident, but not arrogant, in front of them.

Don’t give arguments based on pure speculation or clear up the awkward atmosphere with small talk. Never act condescending toward them.

Recognize the Benefits of Improving Your Work Relationships

Career assessment tools like DISC can help you navigate the stormy environment of the corporate world. More importantly, though, they help develop your empathy, which is a crucial – and often underrated – skill in the workplace.

If you can consistently frame discussions in a way that looks good through the eyes of the other person, your relationships at work will improve, you’ll feel more motivated and productive, and you’re more likely to succeed in your career.

About the Author:

Sarah Landrum

Sarah Landrum is a freelance writer and career blogger with a passion for personal growth and a fascination with personality assessments. She is also the founder of Punched Clocks, a career development site that helps professionals find happiness and success in their careers. Follow Sarah for more advice @SarahLandrum