How to Communicate Effectively With Your Clients and Colleagues

How to Communicate Effectively With Your Clients and Colleagues

12th April 2016

Our job as marketers is to communicate to a target audience. To help us do this, there are plenty of tools and methods available to identify personas. With detailed customer personas we can create the correct type and tone of content, in order to communicate messages effectively. However, are we forgetting to place importance on how we communicate with each other?

Whether you’re a marketer who works freelance, agency, or in-house, it’s likely you’re going to work with colleagues and have to report your marketing activity to someone. If you report to clients or management, then understanding their personality type can help you communicate the messages that are important to them. This can help to create a positive working relationship.

The Disc System

This system was first described in 1928, when 4 main character types were identified by Psychologist, William Moulton Marston in his book ‘Emotions of Normal People’.

These personality types are:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Compliance


It may be a bit simplistic to say that all people fall into one of these 4 categories. Since 1928, this system has been built open and today, 160 different character traits have been identified. However this requires testing to identify, where the DISC system can be picked up on quickly by just speaking to someone and looking out for key traits. By identifying what category a person falls in, you can shape how you communicate with them.

Identifying and Communicating With the Personalities

Identifying The Dominant Personality

The D is a typical director. They’re straight to the point and don’t care about the detail, they only want the results. They can come across as demanding and sometimes even aggressive. The D doesn’t care about your weekend/holiday/personal life. They love challenge and competition but as a result can often take on too much.

Communicating with the Dominant Personality

  • Bring facts and figures on success or effectiveness
  • Be straight to the point, no chit chat
  • Ask specific questions
  • Don’t be offended by the sharpness of a D personality
  • D’s like control, don’t tell them what they’re going to do. Provide options.

Identifying The Influencer Personality

The I is rife in marketing and sales. They’re very open, sociable and optimistic. An out and out team player. They’re people pleasers and are comfortable in social situations. However they can be a little attention seeking and are also prone to giving unrealistic expectations because they want to please. The I personality can be distracted easily and can be inattentive to detail.

Communicating with The Influencer Personality

  • Socialise – ask about personal things they may have mentioned such as holidays etc.
  • Provide options and ideas and include them by asking for their opinions
  • Be positive and light hearted
  • Talk about their goals

Identifying the Steady Personality

The S is a team player who’s sociable and friendly, but not quite as ‘out there’ as an I. They’re thorough, patient and focussed. S personalities are very set in their ways and dislike change. They tend to shy away from conflict and due to their set ways, can struggle when dealing with a diverse situation.

Communicating with the Steady Personality

  • Show interest in them
  • Be logical and calm
  • Ask specific questions
  • If you disagree then back up with data or facts, so to not be personal
  • Provide personal assurances
  • Allow time for them to make a decision

Identifying the Compliant Personality

The C is very interested in the detail. They like to have all the information available to them before they make a decision. C personalities enjoy problem solving and hold themselves to high standards. They’re conscientious and steady, but are not overly comfortable or open in social situations. The C can be a perfectionist and as such, can come across as picky and fussy.

Communicating with the Compliant Personality

  • Prepare your case in advance with plenty of detail and data
  • Be specific
  • Show that you’ve been thoughtful and considered multiple approaches to a situation
  • Include milestones and dates in project plans
  • If you disagree then back up with data or facts, so to not be personal
  • Allow them time and space
  • No personal contact

How Personalities Work With One Another

Because of the different traits of personalities, there are naturally going to be personalities that work better with others and some that can completely clash. The table below shows how the personalities mix, from best to worst.

DISC Compliment Chart

Interestingly while people are most comfortable with those personalities we identify with, two D personalities can clash because of their headstrong nature. They are best paired with an I who is generally very adaptable. The C personality and D personality both equally feel that they match the least which isn’t surprising. A fiery personality matched with a very timid one isn’t always going to work.

Using the DISC system

Any type of personality test must be taken with a pinch of salt, as no two people are the same. Like I mentioned before, it’s a bit too simplistic to categorise someone in just one of four categories. In reality we’re a mix of the different traits, and it also changes on situation. 

Many people can be completely different personalities when they’re outside of a work environment. Two I personalities who theoretically match up well, may actually dislike each other because they’re both attention seekers. Equally, a D and C personality may actually compliment each other well when working together.

However, DISC analysis is an accepted system that has used by a number of large organisations for quite some time. Looking out for telltale traits and shaping your communication style accordingly can help you get your message across in a way which is much more effective for your client or colleague.

Want to find out what personality type you are? Try out this free online test here.


Written By
Paul Hunter is a Digital Account Coordinator and Marketing Manager at Liberty, a Digital Marketing Agency based in Cardiff. He responsible for analysing and creating bespoke digital marketing strategies for a number of Liberty’s biggest clients and managing the overall marketing strategy for the company.
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