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DISC Uncovered: Seeking Perfection in the Shadow of Fear as a High-C

Having a deeper understanding of people’s behavioral styles can provide significant insight into how to better communicate with them. Using a proven science such as DISC can help uncover observable clues about a person’s predominant factor influencing their style of behavior.

DISC is an acronym that stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. The science of DISC explains the “how” a person does what they do, and can be a strong predictor of future behavior.

DISC addresses areas of behavioral focus such as problems, people, pace and processes. While most people have one factor of DISC more pronounced than the others, some people may have two or three impactful factors. A person’s individual DISC profile is unique combination  of all four factors of DISC.

In this four-part blog series, we will take a deep dive into unique characteristics that make up each of the four unique factors of DISC. Today’s focus is on the C (Compliance), specifically those having a high-C factor as their primary style.



The Compliance behavioral style tends to be very process and detail-oriented. These “high-C’s” tend to put task before people, focusing more on what needs to be done and less on subtleties of how they disseminate that information. They don’t set out to offend anyone or be impersonal, they are just more focused on tasks than personal relationships. When someone comes on too aggressively with members of this group, they may get defensive or recoil. The high-C likes their space.

All about facts and figures, the high-C seeks perfectionism. There is only way to do something – the right way – and they will take any means necessary to get there. Their communication is direct and their pace is deliberate. They aren’t in a hurry because they are meticulous. This person goes by the book and operate out of conscious or subconscious emotion of fear. It’s not that they are “afraid” but rather they fear being wrong, judged, called out or achieving less than they believe they are capable of achieving.

No one pays more attention to details than the high-C. They want as much information as can be provided in order to do the best job possible. They think systematically, ask a lot of questions and ponder the information at length to come up with the best possible outcome. If the high-C had a mantra they lived by, it would be “show me the data.” Don’t expect them to take your word for anything, you better come prepared with facts to win over the high-C.

This conscientious individual can be a great team member when someone is needed to get into the details of a project. A lot of moving parts and analysis does not faze the high-C. Their high-standards and attention to detail helps them to see things through to completion. They are accountable, but first and foremost, to themselves. You don’t have to convince a high-C to want to aim for high standards, that’s part of their DNA.


How to identify a high-C

Members of this group are most likely apt to greet you at a distance. When entering a room, this may be the person that goes in the opposite direction of the crowd and finds a safe place to sit alone. When they are around others, they may stand with their arms folded, occasionally raising a hand to their chin as they ponder the information presented to them. When walking through a room, this person will walk in a straight line, but will look for obstacles that provide a buffer between them and others, such as a table, chair or anything that provides a level of safe distance.

They’ll shake hands at a distance, gazing briefly around the individual they are meeting, with their eyes constantly scanning the room, fixed on nothing in particular. This person will be restrained in the use of hand gestures, instead preferring a reserved appearance during conversation. Their pace is subdued, with the goal of gathering all the needed information to understand and process the situation. Don’t expect an immediate response or reaction. This person likes to think things through, and may do so a second time, before reacting.

Overextending the high-C can cause them to become critical as a defense mechanism. When facing conflict, the natural reaction of the C is avoidance. They prefer low risk situations. These are the people on the roads that actually use their turn signals and drive the speed limit. Rules exist for a reason in the world of the high-C. The C reduces stress by being alone and chilling out.


How the high-C communicates

Very direct and to the point, the high-C is concerned about the facts, first and foremost. They are organized and orderly in their surroundings and their communications. An email from a C will follow a logical progression and will often be crafted in bullet points.

Driven by high standards, the high-C has the same high expectations of others. They are prepared and expect the same of others with which they work.


How to communicate with the high-C

It’s important to be prepared and organized when communicating with a high-C. Be direct and to the point; don’t be too informal, casual or loud and keep the conversation as black and white as possible.

Be very specific about what you expect of the C and be sure to follow up on anything you say you are going to do. Follow through is very important to the high-C. While the C prefers a slower, more deliberate pace, they can benefit from being reminded that a project has a deadline. More so than any other style, the high-C can get “lost in the weeds” on a project seeking perfectionism. Sometimes they need to be assured that their work is good enough so they complete the project. Clear guidelines will help a C complete their tasks sufficiently by the deadline.

The C is usually opposed to physical contact. Don’t walk up to them and put your hand on their shoulder or get too close when talking to them. They’d probably prefer to avoid handshakes if given a choice, but when situations dictate the necessity of a handshake, keep a good distance when you shake hands with a C and keep it brief.

If you disagree with a high-C, prove them wrong with data. They are not interested in your opinions, they are only interested in facts. The only way you will sway a C is through facts.


Behavioral Style Match (BSM)

Behavioral Style Match (BSM) is a measure how well people of various styles will communicate with each other. Some styles naturally attract while others have a tendency to repel, and in the situation of those that repel, adaptation becomes key to having good communication.

C’s communicate well with other C’s. C’s and S’s will usually have few conflicts when communicating because they share a goal of communicating at a relaxed pace.

C’s and D’s have some synergies and some conflicts when communicating. While both are direct communicators who focus on the task at hand, they approach their tasks in very different ways. The C is more concerned with accuracy and details, while the D enjoys a faster pace. The D is not interested in details and wants results. Therein lies the natural conflict. Since both styles communicate directly prioritizing the task over the person, misunderstandings can be fairly common.

The biggest conflict in lies between the C and the I. Opposites in every way, the C focuses on task while the I is all about people. The C wants to get to the point while the I enjoys casual small talk. The C is more interested in facts and details while the I likes to tell stories and share opinions. The C may ask too many questions for the I while the I tends to move at an uncomfortably fast pace for the C. The C is precise and the I can be disorganized. While the I really wants everyone to like them, and wants to avoid conflict, they have the most difficulty when communicating with a more direct C.


Words that work

When it comes to words alone, certain words may resonate with some people while the exact same words can be a turn off to others. The way to ensure you are “talking their language” is to start by identifying the other person’s behavioral style as early in the process as possible so you can communicate effectively with them.

Sometimes a word that makes a positive impression on a person with a certain behavioral style will be a complete turn off for someone with a different style. Words/phrases that work for a high-C include: precise, logical and detail-oriented. Words that don’t work include: clever, experimental and revolutionary. Knowing what words do and do not work for certain behavioral factors are key components in crafting an adaptable communication that makes the other person comfortable. Speak their language and you will get them to respond.



The high-C is an integral part of a team for many reasons. This person holds themselves to very high standards, plays by the rules and seeks perfection. They will tell you exactly how it is and shoot straight from the hip. They will hold others accountable and seek to make the team the best it can possibly be.

While all great attributes, the high-C can sometimes be over analytical, over critical, can take a long time to complete projects and may recoil from conflict rather than address it. The high-C can become defensive and is also their own harshest critic. Understanding the nuances of communicating with a high-C will go a long way in maximizing the potential they bring to a team while keeping them on track for success

About the Author

Dave Clark


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