DISCover the Behavior Patterns of Clients, Potential Jurors

Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Does someone in the firm just rub you the wrong way? Tempted to snarl, “Get to the point!” to that smiley, gabby assistant? Does it drive you crazy that someone works slowly and methodically on one project at a time? Or do you feel like firm co-workers are cold and abrupt? You may be experiencing the friction of your firm co-workers’ differing behavioral styles.

In 1928, William Marston, a Harvard University psychologist, published a study that demonstrated that most people tend to have behavior patterns that fall into one or more of four different categories, together known as DISC: D for dominance, I for influence, S for steadiness and C for conscientiousness. The DISC behavior patterns are easy to learn and easy to recognize. Lawyers who understand DISC behavior patterns are better able to eliminate some of the friction in working relationships at the firm, enhance jury selection and improve rainmaking skills.

Here’s an example: By understanding DISC, John Doe, one of my lawyer clients, revolutionized a struggling relationship with his boss. The boss rarely had time for Doe to brief him on the status of projects. Then he would appear unexpectedly, ask a lot of pointed questions and tell Doe to change his course of action. The boss seemed suspicious and distrustful of Doe, who in turn felt boxed in, criticized and undervalued. Doe’s dominant DISC behavior pattern style was influence. T folks are people-oriented, talkative and friendly. They like to motivate and persuade. Often, they are good communicators, although they may tend toward telling long-winded stories. In fact, Doe’s boss once complained to him, “I ask you what time it is, and you tell me how to build a clock.” “people like flexibility and freedom from control. They dislike following up on details, and their greatest fear is personal rejection.
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