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Why How You Interact with Others is the New Black

I recently spoke at the Philadelphia IIBA Development Day. I was on a panel with Jodie Kane and Paul DePalma, and it was moderated by Ken Fulmer.

The organizers of the development day asked the attendees which BABOK knowledge areas they wanted us to discuss. Based on the areas chosen we each gave our key tip for that knowledge area and answered questions from the audience. One topic area was around elicitation. When it was my turn to give my tip, I decided to use an exercise I do when I facilitate my DISC® Assessment workshops. DiSC® is a behavioral assessment and helps individuals understand their behavioral style and that of others. This insight leads to better understanding and appreciating differences of others. This leads to more effective communication, which leads to higher productivity.

When you are eliciting, you are interacting or communicating with others. To do this effectively, you must understand how others want to that interaction to go. The Golden Rule states “do unto others as you want done unto you”. The rule for interactions or communication is “communicate with others as they want to be communicated with”. Use their preferred communication style, not yours. You can know every elicitation technique in the book. That’s not good enough. In addition, you also need to know how the people you are communicating with want to interact. Ideally, your company has gone through a DISC® workshop or one like it, and you know everyone’s preferred style. If not you need a way to quickly read people. At the development day with almost 100 people in the room I did a quick exercise to help the group learn how to read and get close to understanding other’s profiles. Here is how it goes. You ask two questions regarding the person you are trying to read. 1) Are they fast-paced & outspoken or cautious & reflective? 2) Are they questioning & skeptical or Accepting & warm? Based on the answer to the questions the person will fall into one of four behavior styles.

  Questioning & SKeptical Accepting & Warm
Fast-Paced & Outspoken Dominance Influence
Cautious & Reflective Concientious Steadiness

Here is a quick overview of the behavior tendencies of each style.


Now that you know their tendencies you can start to think of ways to interact with them. Here are a few tips for interacting with each style:

  1. Dominance – Make efficient use of time, focus on the topic at hand, and expect candor
  2. Influence – Be open to collaboration and recognize their energy and enthusiasm
  3. Steadiness – Show warmth and concern for their feelings, take an easy-going approach, and work collaboratively
  4. Conscientious – Talk to them about the objective, avoid pressuring them to make a decision, expect skepticism

If you know your stakeholder’s behavior style, you can better prepare for interactions with them. For example. D’s like to focus on the topic. So tangents are not a good thing. S’s and I’s love collaboration. A workshop where they can interact and work with others is perfect for them. C’s lean towards being skeptics, so you can think ahead of time, what may they question.

The next time you are you prepping for an elicitation session first think of the behavior style of each participant. 

All the best,