Encouragement for Every Personality

If you or anyone you know belongs to a recovery group, you know one of the first things they do is assign a sponsor. That sponsor is somebody who has been in your shoes and on the path to recovery a little bit longer; somebody that when you’re ready to take that drink, you can call, whether it be night or day. You call him or her, so you don’t fall back to your old ways. You rely on each other.

One day during this pandemic, some people on my team were feeling particularly down and under stress, and there was absolutely no good news on whatsoever, so I called my friend John, who is an “I” personality style, and said, “Tell me one optimistic thing.” I know I can always count on John for having a bright side of something. I asked him to tell me one thing that’s good, and he did! I said, “Okay, well, I’ll tell you one thing that’s good, too,” and I did!

Understanding personalities with DISC provides an easy explanation of this internal need for encouragement by each of us. From a behavioral point of view, I am a “D” style, so having no options to offer a solution or having to wait for external factors was definitely taking its toll on me and my stress levels. I also know that “I” styles are famous for their positive attitude and ability to see the sunlight, even in the darkest storm.

We made a pact that day if either of us feels there is nothing good going on in any given day, then we would speak up, and the other will say at least one positive thing. I’ve got my “sponsor” in John. We all need a social support system to get us through a hard day and provide encouragement. Many times, this could be a friend, spouse/partner, sibling, parent, or maybe another family member, your best friend, or even a random stranger who paid for your coffee at the drive-thru.

Rough days are not only difficult for employees, but they can be draining on leaders too. Last week, when another team member told me she was exhausted and feeling like there were not enough hours in the day, I was also having my feelings from the current day and other situations I was handling. Even though it comes with the job in a leadership role, it is also exhausting and emotionally draining for us as well. Going through all of this, and dealing with people’s lives, and answering question after question, you sometimes find yourself in the same scenario of feelings as your team members do. Leaders are harsh on themselves as they know everyone depends on them for encouragement, but it’s okay to be human, too.

Remember that every personality needs some encouragement, but not all gestures are equal or perceived well enough. Use these guidelines to adjust your leadership style and offer encouragement to your team members, as well as family and friends:

  • “D” styles want to hear that everything will be alright at the end, that they got this and that it’s just another level of challenge they need to overcome.
  • “I” styles need a scene to shine and express themselves, and their greatest encouragement comes from the admiration they feel. Be sincere as they will know if you fake it.
  • “S” styles need assurance even if things gets worse, you will still be together through it. Assure them as often as you can and don’t let them feel lonely. Remind them often how much you value and rely on their strength.
  • “C” styles have difficulty verbalizing their feelings, so create an environment where they feel confident to externalize. Take the first step by sharing how you feel, and if you don’t hear immediate feedback, give them enough space and time to feel comfortable. Reiterate that it’s okay to feel down once in a while.

Look around and find yourself, one person you can count on – a personality that resonates well with your needs. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself with opposing styles – if you’re a passive “S” or “C” style, look for encouragement from the active “D” and “I” personalities. What other ways can you find and provide encouragement for yourself and others?

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Written by: Brad Smith

Bradley Smith, Ph.D. is the Director of International Business Development at PeopleKeys, and works directly with our international distributors and business partners. Personality Style: D