Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “Who you are speaks so loudly, I can’t hear what you are saying.”

It’s true that our behavior often overshadows our words. But it is possible to look beyond the words people are saying and read them like a book.

Understanding behavior is the key to effective communication, and that key opens the door to effective relationships in business and in life. Ultimately, it’s all about uncovering the truth of what is being communicated.

There is one thing that Jack Bauer and Dr. Cal Lightman always get: the truth.  The difference between them is, while Jack Bauer may beat the truth out of a terrorist, Dr. Cal Lightman will recognize the truth as he observes their communication.  Lightman uses the study of body language and micro expressions to extract the truth from people.

Of course, the television shows 24 and Lie to Me are Hollywood enhanced versions of what is possible. But there is truth behind the science of understanding communication through behavior.

If you go deeper than the spoken word, you can better understand the depth and breadth of what someone is trying to say. At Building Champions, we use a tool called the DISC Behavioral Assessment.

The DISC assessment profiles four distinct behavioral styles that, when understood, can improve communication:

D (Dominant)
High D’s tend to be ambitious, forceful, decisive, strong-willed, independent, and goal-oriented

I (Influential)
High I’s tend to be magnetic, enthusiastic, friendly, demonstrative, and political

S (Steady)
High S’s tend to be patient, predictable, reliable, steady, relaxed, and modest

C (Compliant)
High C’s tend to be dependent, neat, conservative, perfectionist, careful, and compliant

The DISC profile suggests how to best communicate with people who exhibit the various D-I-S-C behaviors. Certain styles of communication are more effective than others for people with varying behavioral styles.

In some environments, people may adapt to a behavioral style that is not natural to them. This makes the communication process even more complex. Not only do you need to know how best to communicate with each of the various behavioral styles, you should also understand whether the behavior you are observing is their natural or adapted style.

The point here is not to make you an expert in the DISC Behavioral Language in under 500 words, but rather to raise the awareness that, since effective communication is so important in our professional and personal relationships, it is certainly worth the investment of your time to develop your skills.

There is more to language than words. If you want to read people like a book, you must first learn to speak their language.

Here are two great resources for you to consider:

Everyone Communicates, Few Connect by John Maxwell
The Universal Language, DISC by Bill J. Bonnstetter and Judy Suiter

If you are interested in taking a DISC profile, contact us to find out more.

I will be leading a breakout session on DISC at the Building Champions Experience in Oregon this September. This event is sold out, but it is not too late to consider attending the 2011 Building Champions Experience!