Personality Clashes: How to Coach Your Coachee on Applying DiSC to Improve a Work Relationship

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Start with a Trauma-Informed Line of Questioning:

By starting with a trauma-informed line of questioning, you are refocusing your coachee on their commitment to applying a trauma-informed lens to their interactions, and helping to reinforce their commitment to understanding and supporting the holistic well-being of those they work with. More and more we all need to understand that there could be potential underlying factors influencing their colleague’s performance and behavior. It’s also good to know that nervous system dysregulation, trauma, chronic stress, burnout, etc can be interpreted as a DiSC “style” or “trait”; This is why compassionate and curious exchanges that truly come from the heart will always trump any model. (Yes, even our accredited DiSC DiSCO model!)

Questions to Check On Empathy and Understanding:

  • How would you describe the issue you are facing?
  • Can you apply your X-Ray polyvagal lens? (to coach them through this, you can ask questions about the other party’s physiological state, regulation/dysregulation and your coachee’s ability to regulate themselves co-regulate those around them. Click here for my polyvagal video series all in 1 page! (With a free PDF to boot!)
  • Are you noticing any of the common personality parts? D part, i part, S part, C part? (See below for a brief description of each.)
  • Does it seem like a part may have picked up a shield or new SOP (standard operating procedure) along the way? Can you consider if there might be underlying trauma or stressors that could be influencing the behaviors you are seeing? (Or.. based on your reaction, is what you are noticing within yourself a typical stress response of a common part, or perhaps one of your parts may have picked up a shield or new SOP?)
  • How do you feel towards this person now that you have considered how this person’s past experiences might be affecting their current actions or attitudes? (If this person was being hard on themselves, or better put: a part of themself, then see how they feel towards their part now.)

Questions to Assess if Your Coachee is Creating a Safe Environment:

  • What steps can you take to create a safe and supportive environment for the person to express themselves?
  • How are you helping them to establish GREEN as their physiological home base? (See/share polyvagal video series for more info on the physiological states.)
  • How can you ensure that their experiences and perspectives are heard and validated?
  • Are there any adjustments or accommodations you can make to promote their well-being and engagement?

Questions to See if Your Coachee is Having Open and Respectful Communications:

  • Have you had any direct conversations with the person about your concerns?
  • How can you approach the conversation with sensitivity and with an understanding of potential triggers?
  • How can this conversation be neurodiversity affirming?
  • What strategies can you use to encourage open dialogue and active listening, fostering a sense of trust and psychological safety?

Coaching Towards That Glorious DiSC-related “A-ha” Moment

Let’s say someone comes to you describing a personality clash and you want to incorporate DiSC to help them come up with their own plan to create a positive relationship, here are some questions you can ask:

Assess How Far They’ve Gotten on Their Own:

  • Have you identified your own DiSC parts and which ones pop up center stage most often, etc? How would you describe your communication and work style?
  • What are the DiSC parts that you notice in the other person’s system? How do you perceive their communication and work style? Did you notice any other parts? (We all have more than four!)
  • In what specific situations do you observe clashes or challenges arising from how your parts may interact with their parts? Do you have a plan to call one of your other parts on stage to help?

Go Deeper:

  • What are some specific behaviors or actions of the other person that trigger the clashes or make the relationship challenging for you?
  • How do you think your own behaviors or actions may contribute to the clashes or challenges?
  • Have you had any direct conversations with the other person about the clashes or challenges you’re experiencing?

Start to Shift the Line of Questioning Towards a Solution:

  • Can you identify any common ground or shared objectives that could serve as a foundation for building a positive relationship?
  • How willing are you to adapt your communication and interaction style to better align with the other person’s DiSC parts / other parts? Which part do you need to call upon?
  • What specific adjustments or approaches can you implement to improve your interactions with the other person?
  • How can you initiate an open and respectful dialogue with the other person to express your concerns and seek mutual understanding?
  • How do you envision a positive relationship with the other person based on your understanding of DiSC personality parts / parts in general?

Ask About Next Steps:

  • What steps can you take to foster empathy, trust, and collaboration with the other person?
  • When (specifically) will you take these steps?
  • What does success look like?

By asking these questions, you encourage the person to reflect on their own DiSC parts (and more), understand the other person’s parts, and consider ways to adapt their communication and approach to foster a positive relationship. The goal is to empower them to develop their own plan based on their insights and understanding of their parts — DiSC and otherwise. They should have a solid plan that they feel great about, a specific time that they plan to implement this new approach, and they should know what success looks like. You would also schedule a next meeting to see how things went!

General Tips for Your Coachee

If you are coaching someone in a managerial role, remind them about (or educate them on) the four DiSC parts: Decisive, influencial, Supportive, and Conscientiousness. Remind that we all have more than 4 parts. A DISC assessment model (e.g. DiSC DiSCO) is used to understand which personality parts – DiSC and otherwise – often take center stage in one’s mind’s eye. DiSC focuses on 4 parts (and yes, you can mix and match, having more than 1 part take the stage at a time…. for better or for worse) and none of these are better than the other.  All parts always have helpful intentions.


Here’s quick look at each part:  

1. Decisive part: This part focuses on assertiveness, confidence, and a results-oriented approach. People with an active D part tend to be decisive, direct, and assertive in their communication and actions. They are often motivated by challenges, taking charge, and achieving tangible outcomes. If I wanted to suggest that my coachee takes the DiSC DiSCO workshop for example, and I noticed that the D part was center stage, I might say something like this (this example is more salesy, but it shows how I am communicating to a part that needs to hear about achievements and results):

2. influencial part: The influence part emphasizes sociability, optimism, and relationship-building skills. Individuals with a prominent i part are often outgoing, persuasive, and enthusiastic. They enjoy interacting with others, inspiring and motivating them, and are skilled at building relationships and influencing others’ opinions. If I wanted to suggest that my coachee takes the DiSC DiSCO workshop for example, and I noticed that the i part was center stage, I might say something like this (this example is more salesy, but it shows how I am communicating to a part that needs to hear about the cool factor):

3. Supportive part: The supportive part emphasizes cooperation, dependability, and a preference for stability and harmony. Those with an active S part are typically patient, reliable, and supportive. They value teamwork, maintaining relationships, and creating a peaceful and stable work environment. Here I am communicating to a part that needs to hear about group harmony:

4. Conscientiousness part: This part focuses on accuracy, attention to detail, and a preference for following rules and procedures. People with active conscientiousness parts tend to be organized, thorough, and analytical. They prioritize precision, quality, and adherence to established guidelines. Here I am talking to the meticulous meticulous C part:

More Ways That DiSC DiSCO Helps Us at Work (and Beyond!)

The DISC DiSCO model provides insights into how individuals behave, communicate, and interact with others based on the parts that frequently pop up in their system. Understanding DiSC parts and that there are even MORE than these four, can help improve communication, collaboration, and teamwork by recognizing and appreciating the different strengths each part brings to the table. It can also assist everyone in identifying areas for personal and professional growth.

Managing and Leading Based on the 4 Common Personality Parts (DiSC)

These are general tips and don’t account for mixed styles. Also, remember that individuals are unique, and so are their parts.


When communicating and leading individuals with a predominant decisive (D) personality part:

1. Be direct and concise: D parts appreciate directness and prefer to get to the point quickly. When communicating, provide clear and concise information without unnecessary details or lengthy explanations.

2. Focus on outcomes and results: Emphasize the goals, objectives, and outcomes of a project or task. D parts are results-oriented and motivated by achieving tangible results. Highlight the benefits and the impact that their efforts will have.

3. Provide challenges and opportunities for growth: D parts thrive on challenges and enjoy taking on new and exciting projects. Provide them with opportunities to take the lead, make decisions, and showcase their abilities. Set challenging goals and give them the autonomy to accomplish them.

4. Respect their need for autonomy: D parts value independence and autonomy. Avoid micromanaging or imposing strict control over their work. Instead, provide them with the freedom to make decisions and take ownership of their responsibilities.

5. Be confident and assertive: D parts respect confident and assertive leaders. Display confidence in your decisions and recommendations. Stand your ground when necessary, but be open to their input and ideas.

6. Be brief with details: While D parts appreciate details that are necessary for decision-making, keep them brief and relevant. Focus on the essential information without getting lost in unnecessary specifics.

7. Foster an environment of open communication: Encourage D types to express their opinions and ideas openly. Provide a platform for them to share their thoughts and actively listen to their perspectives. This helps them feel valued and engaged.

8. Respect their need for efficiency: D types appreciate efficiency and dislike wasting time on unnecessary activities. Streamline processes, eliminate inefficiencies, and respect their time by being prompt and punctual in meetings and discussions.

9. Give regular feedback and recognition: D types appreciate recognition for their achievements. Provide timely feedback on their performance, highlighting their strengths and accomplishments. Recognize and reward their efforts to maintain their motivation and engagement.

10. Balance assertiveness with empathy: While D types can be assertive and direct, they also value leaders who show empathy and understanding. Balance your assertiveness with empathy, actively listen to their concerns, and address any challenges they may face.


When communicating and leading individuals with an active influential (i) part:

1. Provide a positive and engaging environment: i parts thrive in environments that are social, upbeat, and stimulating. Foster a positive and energizing work atmosphere where they can interact with others and express their ideas freely.

2. Engage in active listening: i parts enjoy sharing their thoughts and stories. Practice active listening by showing genuine interest, maintaining eye contact, and responding with enthusiasm. Encourage them to express their ideas and perspectives.

3. Offer opportunities for collaboration: i parts are social – they enjoy collaborating and working in teams. Provide them with opportunities to collaborate with others, engage in group projects, and contribute their ideas in team settings.

4. Recognize their achievements publicly: i parts appreciate public recognition and acknowledgment. Celebrate their accomplishments openly and praise their contributions in team meetings or through other public channels.

5. Allow for creativity and variety: i parts often have creative and innovative ideas. Encourage their creativity by allowing them to explore new approaches or suggest alternative solutions. Provide a variety of tasks and challenges to keep their interest and motivation high.

6. Provide a platform for expression: i parts enjoy sharing their opinions and ideas. Give them opportunities to present their thoughts, whether through presentations, brainstorming sessions, or informal discussions. Encourage them to share their perspectives with others.

7. Be approachable and friendly: i parts value friendly and approachable leaders. Create an open-door policy where they feel comfortable approaching you with questions, concerns, or ideas. Maintain a warm and friendly demeanor when interacting with them.

8. Adapt to their communication style: i parts often prefer informal and friendly communication styles. Use a conversational tone, be enthusiastic, and inject humor when appropriate. Adapt your communication style to their preferences to build rapport and establish effective communication.

9. Provide positive feedback and encouragement: i parts thrive on positive reinforcement. Offer frequent feedback that highlights their strengths, progress, and achievements. Provide words of encouragement to boost their confidence and motivation.

10. Allow for social interactions: i parts enjoy building relationships and socializing with others. Encourage team-building activities, networking events, or opportunities for social interactions that allow them to connect with colleagues and build relationships.

When communicating and leading individuals when a supportive (S) part taking center stage for them:

1. Create a supportive and stable environment: S parts thrive in environments that are harmonious, predictable, and supportive. Foster a workplace culture that values collaboration, teamwork, and mutual support. Provide a sense of stability and consistency to help them feel secure and engaged.

2. Demonstrate empathy and understanding: S parts appreciate leaders who are approachable, empathetic, and understanding. Take the time to listen to their concerns, acknowledge their feelings, and show empathy. Provide a supportive presence and be available to address their needs and challenges.

3. Provide clear expectations and structure: S parts prefer clear guidelines and defined roles. Clearly communicate expectations, deadlines, and objectives to help them feel confident in their tasks. Provide a structured framework that allows them to plan and organize their work effectively.

4. Offer opportunities for collaboration and teamwork: S parts excel in collaborative settings and enjoy working in teams. Encourage group projects, team-building activities, and opportunities for them to contribute to the collective success. Foster an inclusive environment where everyone’s contributions are valued.

5. Be patient and give time for decision-making: S parts may take their time when making decisions, as they prefer to consider all options carefully. Avoid rushing them into quick decisions. Allow them the necessary time to analyze and evaluate before coming to a conclusion.

6. Provide regular feedback and recognition: S parts appreciate feedback that acknowledges their efforts and contributions. Offer constructive feedback in a supportive manner and recognize their achievements publicly. Regularly express appreciation for their hard work and dedication.

7. Be approachable and establish trust: S parts value trust and rely on open and honest relationships. Be approachable and create a safe space where they feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas. Build trust by demonstrating consistency, reliability, and integrity in your actions.

8. Foster work-life balance: S parts value work-life balance and appreciate leaders who support their well-being. Encourage boundaries between work and personal life, promote self-care, and be mindful of their workload and stress levels. Show understanding and flexibility when addressing personal matters or challenges.

9. Be a reliable and supportive leader: S parts appreciate leaders who are dependable and supportive. Be responsive to their needs, provide guidance and support when required, and offer assistance in problem-solving. Show that you genuinely care about their success and well-being.

10. Celebrate achievements as a team: S parts thrive in a team-oriented environment. Celebrate successes and milestones collectively, acknowledging the contributions of each team member. Encourage a sense of camaraderie and shared achievements to foster a positive and supportive team culture.


When communicating and leading individuals with an active conscientious (C) personality part:

1. Provide clear expectations and guidelines: C parts appreciate clarity and detail. Clearly communicate expectations, goals, and deadlines, providing them with a well-defined framework to work within. Ensure that instructions and procedures are precise and comprehensive to help them understand what is required.

2. Focus on accuracy and quality: C parts have a strong attention to detail and value accuracy. Emphasize the importance of producing high-quality work and provide them with the necessary resources and tools to achieve it. Encourage them to take their time to ensure accuracy and precision.

3. Be prepared and organized: C parts appreciate leaders who are well-prepared and organized. Demonstrate your own preparedness by having necessary information and resources readily available. Show respect for their time by being punctual and well-prepared for meetings and discussions.

4. Create an environment of intellectual stimulation: C parts thrive on intellectual challenges and opportunities for learning. Provide them with intellectually stimulating tasks and projects that allow them to expand their knowledge and skills. Encourage continuous learning and provide access to resources for personal and professional development.

5. Offer logical reasoning and explanations: C parts like to do analytical and logical thinking. When communicating with them, provide well-reasoned explanations and logical arguments to support your points. Be prepared to answer questions and engage in thoughtful discussions that address their need for logical understanding.

6. Respect their need for autonomy: C parts value independence and autonomy in their work. Give them the space and freedom to work independently, allowing them to exercise their problem-solving and decision-making abilities. Trust their expertise and provide guidance when needed.

7. Be patient and open to questions: C parts tend to ask questions and seek deeper understanding. Be patient and receptive to their inquiries, as it demonstrates their commitment to thoroughness and accuracy. Take the time to provide thoughtful and informative responses to their questions.

8. Value their input and expertise: C parts possess valuable knowledge and expertise. Acknowledge and appreciate their contributions and insights. Involve them in decision-making processes and seek their input on matters related to their areas of expertise.

9. Offer constructive feedback with a focus on improvement: C parts value feedback that helps them improve and grow. Provide constructive feedback that focuses on specific areas of improvement, emphasizing the opportunity for growth and development. Be objective and provide suggestions for enhancing their performance.

10. Foster a calm and supportive work environment: C parts appreciate a calm and stable work environment. Minimize unnecessary disruptions and create a supportive atmosphere where they can concentrate on their work. Encourage a balance between work and personal life, recognizing the importance of well-being.


See more posts related to the DiSC Disco.