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How to Use the DISC Profile to Communicate Effectively in Business

David Greene
18 min read
How to Use the DISC Profile to Communicate Effectively in Business

For the past six months, I’ve been working on transitioning into being a full-time real estate agent. After committing the better part of nine years to mastering law enforcement, let me tell you, it’s a pretty freaking big transition! Everything I used to work on mastering is suddenly next to useless. And a ton of things I used to ascribe zero value to are suddenly all that matter to find success in this new world.

For instance, as a police officer, I never really valued the popular people who everybody liked. It meant nothing to me. If you couldn’t run fast, think quick, be dependable, drive safely, etc., I didn’t really see a ton of value in you as a coworker. The charismatic types really didn’t do much for me.

But as a real estate agent, I probably spend about 85 percent of my day wishing I could be more like those people! I marvel at how easy it is for some of them to connect with strangers, form bonds, and initiate relationships. Some people just have that skill. I have never understood it.

Do you ever wonder why some people are so skilled with analytics? Or seem so bold and driven? Ever wonder how some people are so loyal and dependable, while others are just so dang likable?

Well, you’re not alone. I did too. In fact, it was a huge source of frustration for me. That is, until I found, the DISC profile.

What is the DISC?

DISC is a behavior assessment tool based on the DISC theory of psychologist William Moulton Marston. It centers on four different behavioral traits. The traits are often referred to with different words, but the terms I hear most commonly used are Decisiveness, Interaction, Stability, and Conciseness. Each of these traits refers to a pillar of someone’s personality. The more you have of a particular trait, the more you are likely to appear a certain way. When we mix two or even three of these traits together, behavior psychologists are able to predict a specific personality profile someone is likely to have.

Now, this stuff may sound kind of boring to a lot of you. How is it going to make you money? Well I’ll tell you, once I learned this, my business absolutely exploded. I went from feeling eternally frustrated to insanely confident. I could speak with, and connect to, anybody. It changed my life. I began to study it more and more, and now I’d like to share it with  you.

Real estate is a relationships business. Period. I know you may think it’s a numbers business. I get that. But you’re wrong. You do need to know your numbers, but knowing your numbers isn’t going to get you a deal.

But your relationship with the person who has the deal just might.


Deals come from someone who has them. It’s usually either an agent, a wholesaler, or an owner of a property. Either way, if you want it, and you want it for the price we all do, it will behoove you to get really good at communicating. I can tell you with complete honesty, if you aren’t skilled at communicating, and you and I are going after the same deal, you are toast. You’ve already lost.

The premise of understanding the DISC assessment is that everyone likes to communicate differently. This is based on what we value. People with high scores in each of the four different elements all tend to value different things.

Most of us go through life assuming everyone is just like us. We communicate with others at a subconscious level depending on what we value, and consequently, what we believe they must also value.

Let me give you an example:

Some people really value details (we’ll talk more about these types later). To them, the details are all that matter. When they communicate with others, you’ll see them really stressing the details of whatever they’re talking about. The thread count in sheets as opposed to the color. The exact horsepower of an engine as opposed to the way it sounds. The property-tax rate to the fourth decimal as opposed to the floor plan or kitchen design.

These are the things that matter to them, so they assume they matter to you, too. If they aren’t aware of this (which most of us aren’t) they will go on and on sharing details you don’t care about while you’re thinking, “I cannot believe how boring this guy is,” or “When is he gonna get to the point?”

But they don’t know they’re doing it! These people really believe this is what you want to hear. Now, when they meet with the percentage of the population that is just like them, they hit it off great! They both walk away saying, “Now that guy gets it!” But to the rest of the population, they are weird and annoying.

How DISC Forever Changed My Life

Once I started studying the different personality types, I was amazed at how accurate they were. You can take a free DISC assessment here and see for yourself. After answering a few questions, you’ll get a free analysis of your personality type. It includes useful information like how you prefer to be communicated with, what bothers you, how to be more successful at work, and things you can work on to be less of a pain to others.

Once I learned this stuff, I was freaking psyched. The more I studied it, the more I realized how empowered I was becoming. As soon as I figure out someone’s profile, I instantly know how to talk to them. I know what to say first, what to watch out for, and what their biggest fears are, etc.

I also know how to get my point across in a way that will have them walking away saying, “That guy gets it.”

Fast forward four months later, and the entire way I interact with people has changed. I’m more confident and much more successful. And I owe it all to the DISC profile and the information it conveyed.

When studying the DISC, there are two main things to focus on:

  1. Learning what causes comfort and happiness in another person/what makes them feel you care.
  2. What their biggest fear is and how you can avoid triggering it.

If you can learn these two things, you can get pretty good at communicating with people.

Now keep in mind, there is no “good” or “bad” DISC score. It’s just an evaluation of what is.

Want to learn how to pull off a real life Jedi Mind Trick? Keep reading. It gets crazy.

The Elements of Disc


Your D score is your decisiveness. It is your directness. More specifically, it is the speed at which you feel comfortable making decisions you have never had to make before. Those with a high D score are most comfortable in rapidly evolving situations or job positions where they are constantly faced with new challenges.

These people tend to talk fast, because they think fast.They can’t stand it if you’re not getting right to the point. You can tell if you’ve got a high D because they are likely to interrupt you once they see where you’re going with a conversation. They don’t mean to be rude, it’s just how they think.

High Ds tend to be drawn to positions of leadership and challenge. They like to make decisions very quickly, and won’t respect someone who dillydallies or hems and haws over what’s to be done.

High Ds love checklists. They love to measure productivity by how much they’ve gotten done. They also respond great to a challenge. A high D is easily noticeable when they appear irritable if interrupted in the middle of a task.

These people tend to be leaders and entrepreneurs because they are most comfortable making decisions in new areas. They are often seen as bold, but this is more a characteristic of their comfortability with uncharted territory. High Ds love when you get right to the point and place a high level of respect on directness.

Those with a lower D score tend to value accuracy over speed. These are the people who oftentimes will double or triple check their work. Low Ds are very uncomfortable with decisions they haven’t made before or been trained on, and they will oftentimes slow down and think things through before proceeding.

A person with a lower D score is more likely to let you finish a sentence, even if they know what you’re trying to say. Low Ds tend to be very comfortable in supporting roles where their expectations and responsibilities are clearly spelled out and defined. A low D score will feel very uncomfortable if you try to rush too far into a conversation before they’ve warmed up to you.


High Ds

Animal: Lion—they want to conquer and overcome.

What they love: Directness, decisiveness, efficiency, boldness.

Biggest Fear: Being taken advantage of.

How to best communicate with them: Get right to your point. These people see B.S. a mile away, and because they are so afraid of being taken advantage of, will often actively look for something that smells fishy. If you want to capture their attention, you need to show exactly what value you’re bringing and how you are of value to them before getting into small talk or niceties.

Just the facts, ma’am.

What to avoid when communicating with them: Do not try to make small talk, appear cute, or slowly warm up. They will perceive this as a waste of their time or a sales pitch technique. Do not make them wait to listen to your entire presentation. Let them ask the questions they have, when they have them. Once they are satisfied, they will allow you to give your presentation.

Just don’t take too long, or you’ll lose them.

Don’t brag about yourself without something to back it up. Speak directly and quickly. Understand high Ds are not inherently rude—they will think you’re rude if you waste their time with fluff and filler rather than getting to the point.

Prove your value first, then they will take an interest in you as a person.

How to know if you’ve found a High D: High Ds are extremely direct and often interrupt you once they know what you’re trying to say. They are very interested in accomplishing tasks over learning about people. If you ask a High D what their plans for the summer are, they are likely to give you a checklist of places they want to go or things they want to accomplish. They will respond best to direct statements rather than subtle cues.

Personal example: In my real estate agent business, my goal is to capture someone’s attention, prove myself to be trustworthy and knowledgeable, and find out what they need and how I can help them. To do this with a high D, I start off by telling them exactly what I can and cannot do, and how this will help them. For example, if a High D walks into my open house, I’ll ask them if they are looking for a house or just window shopping. If they are looking for a house, I’ll tell them I have a list of every house available in that city and I can show them the best deals on the list if they want.

Once I’ve shown them the value I can bring, I’ll wait and see if there is interest. If I showed enough value, they will start asking me questions. That’s when I know I’ve won them over and they are likely to start working with me.

Related: The Clever Psychology Trick You Need to Successfully Negotiate with Type A Personalities


Animal: Otter—they just want to play.

What they love: Humor, fun, interacting, stories, excitement, personality.

Biggest Fear: Not being liked.

How to communicate with them best: High Is love when you are interesting, exciting, and entertaining. If you want a high I to hear what you have to say, you need to capture their attention first. The best way to do this is to make yourself interesting to them. Find out what they like and hammer that point home. Once they find you interesting, you can bet they’ll be listening to everything you have to say. High Is are people persons, they love people more than tasks. A high I wants to talk about their family, friends, alumni, etc. Asking them more about themselves and praising them is the best way to win them over. Because their biggest fear is not being liked, be sure to build them up and reassure them they are liked and interesting to you.

What to avoid when communicating with them: Do not start talking with a high I about facts and business until they have determined they like you. More specifically, appear interesting and exciting before you jump into business. High Is love interacting with others and get excited by likability. If you come across as dry, all business, or boring, you’re going to have a hard time getting your point across—no matter how valid and impressive your point is.

How to know if you’ve found a high I: High Is are often the life of the party. Charismatic, charming, and fun. They tend to be extroverted and often have short attention spans.  A high I will bounce from one person at a gathering to another and doesn’t have a problem talking about themselves. You know you’ve found a high I if complimenting them, their clothes, or an aspect of their character causes them to light up and show they like you. High Is are good at making people feel good, and will want to use their talents to do so.

Personal example: With this potential client, I’d start a conversation by mentioning that I recently filmed an episode for House Hunters. I’d talk about what I learned regarding what goes on behind the scenes. This would be a great way to appear interesting and capture their attention. If I’ve done this well, they will be hanging on every word I say, and I will be able to communicate my value effectively, knowing I’m being heard.


Animal: Golden retriever—they are loyal and supportive.

What they love: Stability, consistency, support, reassurance.

Biggest Fear: Change.

How to communicate with them best: High Ss are some of the most loyal people you will ever find. Because they love to support others, they are often drawn to admin or support positions within companies or business. A high S loves to know what’s coming. They like to experience the same pace each and every day, and they find comfort in familiarity. A high S is usually very concerned with not being a bother or an annoyance. You can often recognize them by their reluctance to intercede in conversation and their deference to your needs over their own. A high S will absolutely love it if you give ample time for them to prepare for what’s coming. Say things like, “Can we schedule a time to talk?” or “I’d love to pick your brain more about this, when would be a better time?”

Giving them time to prepare for a future appointment will make them feel comfortable and safe. Like a high I, a High S is also a people person. They will be more interested in your life and relationships than your accomplishments or skill set. When communicating with a high S, be sure to greet them when you first see them. Acknowledge them and the value they bring into your life. A high S is very loyal, so appreciating and showing gratitude for the role they play in your life goes very far with them.

What to avoid when communicating with them: Make sure you affirm their value and the position they hold in your life. A high S is likely to wonder if you’re upset, but won’t want to rock the boat, so they aren’t likely to ask. It’s important to let them know you are looking out for them. A high S fears change. When speaking to them, keep it to bite sized chunks.

This can be especially hard for a high D to do. If you walk them too far down a path that involves a lot of change, they’re likely to get uncomfortable and withdraw. A high S does not like when they don’t know what’s coming. It’s important to copy them on emails and welcome them into conversations. Avoid hitting them with too much change at one time or being too direct. A high S does not like conflict or strife and will push to maintain harmonious relationships.

How to know if you’ve found a high S: A high S will make a high priority of ensuring they aren’t bothering you. They tend to be very supportive and will likely make the conversation all about you. They won’t interrupt, and if they are unhappy or irritated, they’ll make great efforts to hide it. A high S is usually extremely loyal, and strives to bring harmony everywhere they go. If you ask a high S what they are doing this summer, they will likely talk about the people or relationships they are excited to develop.

Personal example: When I read that someone walking into my house is a high S, it’s important I greet them warmly and let them know they are welcome. As we talk about their future plans, I want to avoid going to deep into the future. Talking about fixing up their house, selling it, then buying a new one would likely be a bad idea because it may appear overwhelming to them.

I’m much better off telling them about myself, asking what their concerns are, and scheduling an appointment to meet with them later. If I make sure to follow up warmly and let them know I value their time and attention, they are more likely to feel comfortable with me.


Animal: Beaver—they love to chew on one tree all day long!

What they love: Details, data, structure, protocol, organization.

Biggest Fear: Sloppiness or being considered incompetent.

How to best communicate with them: To a high C, the devil is in the details. Actually, it’s all in the details! High Cs make great accountants and engineers. They are great when it comes to following a procedure or establishing a protocol. They love spreadsheets, data, and information. Ever heard of analysis paralysis? High Cs are prone to this more than anyone else. Because a high C loves to analyze and gather information, they can often have just as much fun learning about something as actually doing it.

When communicating with a high C, start with the details. They want to know all the information, and if you withhold this it will cause them to question your intelligence and trustworthiness. Make sure you abide by established rules and procedures. To a high C, not following the protocol is a sign of wildness, or of a loose cannon. High Cs tend to warm up the slowest, so be patient with them. If you continue to provide value through the details they desire, they’ll like you.

What to avoid when communicating with them: Don’t try to win a high C over with your charm or personality. It won’t work. Until they feel you are competent, intelligent, or thorough, they aren’t likely to respect you and will view your efforts to be charming as a crutch for your lack of ability.

High Cs, similar to high Ds, prefer tasks over people. When initiating conversation, they are more likely to be interested in what jobs you’ve had, what responsibilities you’ve held, and what skills you have. They are less likely to be interested in how many girlfriends you’ve had or what your favorite TV show is. You want to avoid talking about personal matters until after they feel comfortable with you.

Don’t skip over details or imply they aren’t important. Don’t shirk the established manner of doing things. Free spirits, rebels, and the artist types have a hard time winning the respect of a high C. If you are a guitar player, talk more about the chords in a song than in the way you feel playing on stage with everyone watching you. Whatever you do, don’t be late to meet with them. They value promptness.

How to know if you’ve found a high C: High Cs tend to speak in measured, deliberate statements. When discussing real estate, they are more likely to be interested in the ROI than the color of the house—or what you plan on doing with the money you make. A high C will appear meticulous and squared away.

You know you’ve found a high C if you find them making a big effort to make sure you know exactly what they are trying to say, or find them giving you much more information than you feel is necessary. A high C is likely to fall in line with the established order and will appear uncomfortable when things are disorganized, chaotic, or messy.

Personal example: When I’m communicating with a high C about real estate, it’s important I slow down and make sure I appear knowledgeable and intelligent. If I can tell them the age of the house, HOA fees, property tax rate, price per square foot, etc., they are more likely to develop trust and confidence in me. Telling a high C I filmed a House Hunters episode would be pointless unless I used it as an example to show how I help my clients. A high C will want to know how I beat the average days on market, average sales prices, etc. Be sure not to talk about personal matters until they ask.


DISC Profile Combinations

Now that you know the specific traits, you should also be aware that certain traits produce common outcomes when paired together. For instance, a high D is different from a high I, but a high DI will often produce a top salesperson. By combining two dominant traits, you can get an even better feel for how someone is likely to behave, and what they are likely to excel at.

This becomes especially important when considering who to hire for your business. Before I hire anyone on my team, I review their DISC profile and get a good feel for what kind of personality they have. Putting a high C in a role best suited for a high I could be disastrous. They are likely to feel uncomfortable and out of their comfort zone all day long. This would lead to them feeling incompetent at their job, which is coincidentally their biggest fear.

Understanding where you fit on the DISC spectrum is a great way to help make sure you’re in a vocation that suits your talents and natural disposition. If you’re unhappy at your current job, this might be why! A couple of common DISC combinations and the positions they are likely to succeed in are as follows:

DI: DIs tend to be the best salespeople. Their high D leads to them being driven, quick movers, who develop a “just get it done” mentality. The high I score makes them better with people. They are great at developing relationships, which is crucial to sales. When working in combination, you’re likely to get a driven, people-friendly person who will make more relationships quickly. The top-producing real estate agents tend to be high DIs.

Because they are motivated by drive and interactions with less structure and stability, high DIs are oftentimes horribly unorganized, run late, and can be overly stressed with the technical aspects of a job. If you know a high DI, it will mean a lot to them if you help get them get organized or assist them with tasks that may appear mundane and simple to some of the other DISC profiles.

SC: Another common combination, SCs tend to make the best admin and support people. Their affinity for routine and consistency, paired with their love of structure and protocol, make them ideal for organizational roles. High SCs will often be found cleaning other people’s houses, because that’s the way it’s supposed to be! In real estate, these are often transaction coordinators and office assistants. In tech, they are often computer programmers or code developers. If you want someone to look over your work, make sure everything is where it should be, or write the policy for your office, you want a high SC.

High SCs are not be ideal for the sales roles where they’re forced to meet and interact with strangers on a daily basis. They also often tend to shy away from leadership roles where they are forced to deal with rapidly evolving situations and the need to make decisions they have never made before. High SCs can move very quickly through tasks they have done before, and are known for being extremely competent at their jobs. A high SC would be great for repeat administrative work with clearly defined boundaries and responsibilities.

DC: A more uncommon combination, high DCs tend to make great directors of operations. I myself am a high DC. Because of our high drive to get things done, high DCs can be very effective if they have been provided with the information they need to confidently move forward. A high DC struggles when they feel they need to make a decision but they don’t know all the options or information. This can prove a stressful situation for them, as they will feel conflicting desires to make a decision and also to stall to gather more information.

To communicate with a high DC most effectively, give them only the information they need. Don’t waste time getting it to them. Let them ask you questions rather than trying to anticipate them. Don’t give them information they don’t want or need.

IS: A high IS tends to be the very best at relating to, and understanding, others. They are known for being friendly, patient, persistent, and self confident. A high IS is great in a supporting role, especially one where they can add support by meeting new people that will benefit the business. A high IS is always looking for ways to help their friends with their problems. They can be incredible customer relationship managers. Because they are so in tune with others’ feelings, they are great at resolving customer disputes, creating great customer experiences, and noticing when something is wrong with a member of a team.

A High IS will strive to avoid conflict, dissension, and antagonism. In order to communicate with them most effectively, make sure they know they are appreciated, respected, and liked. Meeting these needs will ensure they are much more likely to care about you and your needs.

Related: 8 Traits of Successful Real Estate Investors

Why You Should Learn the DISC Profiles

In life, we have to communicate with people. Not everybody is just like us, and not everybody will communicate the same way we do. Making people feel comfortable and safe around you is a great way to get them to open up.

As investors, we will often find ourselves communicating with property owners, agents, business people, etc. Knowing how to win them over will give you a leg up over the competition. At times, this can be the difference between you or someone else getting the deal.

If we want to master our craft, we have to learn to master the way we communicate with others while we’re doing it. The DISC assessment provided me with the edge I needed to get much better at that. I hope it can do the same for you, and maybe teach you something about yourself along the way!

[ We’re republishing this article to help out our newer readers. ]

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Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.