The D and S Attraction

I have friends who are the perfect D / S combination.  They’ve have been very happily married for over 30 years with the exception of year #26 when they came close to a divorce.  You would think that after 25 years of bliss they would have understood each other well enough to handle any challenge, but when Personality Style opposites start behaving in “Weakness Mode” disasters can happen.  This is their story……

To hear Christopher and Jodi tell it they had no choice, it was love at first sight.  He is a determined D with exciting goals and lots of self-confidence and enthusiasm.  She is a very sweet  S who believed in him instantly and wanted to be there and help him gain his success.

They graduated from college, married, and Chris entered the corporate world on the fast track to upper level management while Jodi taught elementary school.  His specialty quickly became innovation and change.  His D Personality Style thrived in the challenging, fast-paced, decision-making environment.  When they started their family Jodi happily morphed from teaching to executive wife, loving every minute of taking care of the kids, supporting Chris, and volunteering in the community.

23 years into his career, the owner sold the company.  During the transition to new ownership, upper level management was replaced.  Chris was suddenly without a job.  He considered retiring, but knew at age 45 he wasn’t ready.  He was heavily recruited by several companies but none of them had a position that excited him.  He considered consulting but that didn’t entice him either.  One night one of his friends persuaded him to attend a network marketing meeting.  The guest speaker had achieved financial independence working with the company.  Chris came out of there certain that he could do better and he could do it faster than the speaker.

Within 18 months he was shattering performance records.  His D Style was a natural for the industry.  He pulled the best out of people and pushed them to attain the success they wanted.  He made things happen through innovation and plain old hard work.  His motivation was at it’s peak as he was in control, making choices and being challenged.

Jodi was in the support role she loved and this time it was even more exciting for her because she had more of a hands on role.  She could see things Chris didn’t notice: who deserved recognition, who needed help, who was struggling with confidence, etc.  Their awesome relationship became even better as they worked together with their team.

I hadn’t seen them for about 6 months so imagine my shock when Jodi confided that she and Chris were having horrible problems.  “He’s no longer the man I married”, she said.  “He’s become restless and extremely insensitive.  The least thing can set him into an angry tirade and his filter has disappeared to the point that he’s abrupt and rude in a professional environment.   He’s even sarcastic and impatient with the kids and that’s never happened before.”

She also said she didn’t like who she was becoming.  “We used to be great at communication but now I’m biting my lip all the time to avoid an argument.  His actions are painful but rather than telling him, I find I’m hiding my anger to avoid an argument and then I’m dwelling on it later.  After so many wonderful years I honestly don’t know what to do!”

I asked her if there was a problem with the business.  She laughed and said no way!  Chris had developed a system that virtually ran itself.

I asked if there were any other challenges or new ideas he was tackling.  She said no, everything was running on autopilot.

I suggested to Jodi that while autopilot in her world was perfect, for Chris it could be his worst nightmare!

I reminded her of their personality differences.  I suggested for her S everything they had achieved (stability, security, status quo) made HER world perfect. Chris is a “play to win” D, an active mover and shaker:

  • He needs a challenge – at the moment he has none.
  • He needs to be making major decisions – he’s made them!
  • He needs to be in control of things – the system he created and the people he trained are doing that for him.

“Without challenge, choices and control Chris probably feels useless and that is something he is not used to feeling!  It appears to me that in this situation he’s restless and frustrated and as a result is operating in the weaker characteristics of his D Personality Style“.

“What do we do?  Start a new business?” Jody asked.

“Perhaps it can be a lot simpler”, I replied.  “Maybe he just needs a big project.  Didn’t you once talk about building your dream home in the South at the beach?”

“Yes, but that’s down the road when we’re planning to retire.”

“Why wait?”, I suggested.  “Do it now!”

“Are you crazy!  That would be impossible with our current schedules.  There is no time to plan the house and build it long distance.  It would be a disaster!”

“Jodi”, I said, “Let’s be honest.  WOULD IT BE A DISASTER FOR BOTH OF YOU or a disaster for ONLY YOU?”

She had to admit that while she hated the idea she knew Chris would probably love it and….he did!

The challenge put him right back into “D Strengths“.  He commuted back and forth overseeing the construction. While in their new city he started another team for their business.  He designed their new home with an office/meeting room wing for presentations. When the new home was complete he added a similar space to their northern home.

Chris and Jodi are once again happy as can be.  They’ve gained an understanding of each other’s Personality Style’s needs and they’ve created a relationship where their needs are being met.  They make sure his D has challenge and excitement as they maintain consistency for Jodi’s S  so she can thrive at doing what she most enjoys – supporting those she loves.




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Strengths of the D

D’s are Determined, Dominant “Doers”

When it comes to confidence the D is at the top of the list.  They can stay focused on a vision and move heaven and earth to make it happen – fast!  A D will demand a lot from you and they may push you to work at your best.  Keep in mind, they are expecting even more from themselves than they expect from you.  They are…..


  • Very self-confident
  • Dynamic ability to lead
  • Will develop good qualities in others
  • Will delegate to get fast results
  • Direct communication, no “beating around the bush”
  • Needs to be in control and is willing to struggle for power and control


  • Can thrive on conflict
  • Seldom takes no for an answer
  • Bottom-line oriented, focuses on big picture and end result
  • Inspires others through determination
  • Refuses to give up on goals


  • Thrives on movement and involvement
  • Decisive decision maker
  • Needs a challenge – good at solving problems
  • Very innovative and adaptable – can change direction quickly
  • Willing to take risks without hesitation
  • Quickly responds to problems and situations

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Strengths of the S

S’s are Supportive, Steady and Stable

An S finds it very difficult to say NO. They feel people do best when they are cooperative and supportive of each other. They will be there for you and want to know you will be there for them. They are happiest when YOU are happy.


  • Family-oriented, Team-oriented, Service-oriented
  • Bring out the best in people
  • Will make personal sacrifices to obtain best results
  • Tunes into what the group needs
  • Have an ability to put themselves in other’s situations which makes them very understanding
  • Takes orders well


  • You can depend on them and trust them to follow through
  • Not prone to emotional outbursts
  • Very calm, holds things together
  • Sees the lighter side of life with a subtle sense of humor
  • Looks for simple solutions
  • Very diplomatic, calm and polite


  • Create stability through loyalty and dependability
  • Thinks and evaluates before speaking or acting
  • During difficult times will appear to be unshaken
  • Makes a great leader.  They patiently coach rather than dictate
  • Prefers routine, one task at a time, consistency and efficiency

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Weaknesses of the D

D’s can be Inconsiderate, Unyielding and Angry

D’s prefer to go at a very fast pace on THEIR agenda. They can easily forget the team concept or that they are under authority. During challenging moments their strengths may go too far and make them tough to deal with. They can become…..


  • Pushes rather than leads.  Exerts power when threatened
  • Unsympathetic, especially to other’s weaknesses
  • Can be blunt or offensive
  • Insensitive – will hurt without realizing it
  • Tendency to be emotional or unfeeling
  • Takes action without waiting for pertinent facts or permission – will seek forgiveness later


  • Will manipulate behind the scenes to get things done
  • May have a hidden agenda
  • If they decide they cannot get their way they may leave
  • Want to win at all costs even if they have to create their own rules to do so
  • Can easily become dictatorial


  • Can become hard and sarcastic
  • Do not like taking orders and can become rebellious
  • Can explode into anger quickly….they will get over their anger quickly while others may be left harboring resentment
  • When challenged becomes obstinate
  • Great difficulty being under authority or admitting a wrong

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Weaknesses of the S

S’s can be Fearful, Indecisive,
and Self-Protective

An S, who prefers stability and predictability, can become fearful of many things….unknown situations, conflict, being in the spotlight, humiliation, doing something wrong, losing the stability of their turf, surprises and loss of control.  Their Fears may make them appear to be Indecisive and Self-Protective.


  • When they should say “No” they will say “Yes” to avoid conflict or disappointment
  • Resistant to change with no apparent reason
  • Hesitant to speak up if the comment will cause a difference of opinion
  • Will stay in a rut rather than make a change
  • May see suggestions or criticism as a threat


  • Prefer to know the outcome before starting, especially if the outcome will affect others
  • Appear to have a lack of motivation, they would rather do nothing than do something wrong
  • Hesitant to share information, can become possessive
  • Procrastinates, often related to making a decision
  • Can easily become an enabler


  • Fear of being humiliated
  • When afraid of losing their security they may appear to be stingy
  • When protecting their own interest, may appear to be selfish
  • Will internalize and mask feelings
  • Needs an extended amount of time to build a new relationship

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The I and the C – A Success Story

One of the highest volume mortgage companies in a state I’ll leave unmentioned is owned by a mother/daughter team.  Kathleen, the Mom, is a very high C.   Angela, her daughter, is a very high I.  They have built their business by utilizing the strengths of their Personality Styles and by accepting and understanding each other’s differences.

Kathleen was widowed at the age of 25 when Angela was 7.  Her husband was a contractor.  They owned a nice home and had done fairly well for their age.  Like most young couples they hadn’t gotten around to any serious financial planning so Kathleen had enough money from a small life insurance policy to get through the next 6 months.  She went to her local family-owned bank to get some advice from the owner.  He offered her a job as a loan processor and she jumped at it.

Over the next year Kathleen mastered the position.  The job was perfect for her Type C Strengths.  Loan processing suited her analytical nature, systematic approach to issues, objective ability to assess facts, love of time schedules, and her ability to be happy working alone.

When she was promoted to loan officer, Kathleen’s reserved nature had her a bit tentative about dealing with the bank’s customers.  Her stomach was in knots the first few weeks but she gradually found her confidence as her C Personality skill of being an evaluative listener found its footing.  She got all the facts she needed at the first interview, never overpromised what she could accomplish and quickly earned a reputation for being honest and fair.  As her reputation grew, her income increased and she and Angela were able to afford a comfortable lifestyle.

Many people said Kathleen spoiled Angela.  She would retort that Angela “Was the spitting image of her Daddy and I find it impossible to tell that girl no!”  In spite of it, Angela was a great kid.  Like her Dad, she had a high I Personality….she was carefree, adventurous and optimistic and very popular and involved both in high school and at college.

Angela majored in marketing in college.  When she was home for the summer after her junior year she questioned her Mom about never participating in the mortgage industry events….fashion shows, Chamber meetings, casino nights, etc.  Kathleen’s response was, “I’ve never enjoyed big groups of people and parties” (which is often typical of the C Personality).  “I’ve been able to grow my business with referrals from satisfied customers instead and that’s brought in all the business we’ve needed.”

At Angela’s pleading that it would be fun, Kathleen reluctantly agreed to schedule them into a few upcoming events.  Angela was a huge hit at every event.  Her I Personality Strengths of enthusiasm, acceptance of others, and her positive sense of humor were natural magnets.  When she was asked to help on a few committees, Kathleen told her to go for it.  Within a few weeks Kathleen had several mortgage orders from sources who had never before used her services for their clients.  By the end of the summer, Kathleen’s business was moving to a higher level thanks to Angela’s participation.

When Angela came home for Thanksgiving break, she and Kathleen started tossing around the idea of Kathleen leaving the bank so the two of them could open a mortgage business.  They made a list of everything involved in operating the business and to their surprise and delight the list was easily cut down the middle.  Kathleen preferred to tackle the processing, accounting, licensing, audits and other detailed tasks.  Angela wanted to handle everything involving client contact, prospecting and networking.  By spring break they had a solid plan.  They celebrated Angela’s graduation by hanging the sign at their new business.

Kathleen’s C Strengths have kept their business “lean and mean” for several decades.  Where many mortgage businesses add on processors as their volume increases – requiring a larger space and more expense – Kathleen decided to tap into the talent of the loan processors who had left the bank to raise their families.  Many of them were thrilled to handle contract processing from home on a part-time basis.  She instituted many creative ideas to keep the business lean and profitable.  She and Angela have chosen to keep their small space even though they could afford a huge, luxurious office.

Over the years Kathleen and Angela have stayed with their division of duties.  They have learned each other’s jobs for emergencies sake, but normally they stay in their individual Personality Strengths to utilize their talents.  They both love what they do and their huge customer base is dedicated and loyal.  Their fees are fair, their reputation is to be envied and over the course of the last 20 years they have both become very wealthy women.

The I and C Personality combination is fantastic when both parties can appreciate each other’s differences.  Working in each person’s strengths requires understanding and communication from both sides but it is so worth it!  If you are a business owner and struggling to handle things you don’t like, find your “Opposite”, structure the duties to suit each of your strengths, and work together to attain more success than you would ever accomplish on your own!

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Strengths of the I

 I’s are Influencing, Inspiring and Impressive

When the I Personality Style enters a room the atmosphere becomes lighter and more playful.  Their Style is fun-loving, gregarious and charismatic.  To them the world is a stage and life is an adventure worth exploring.  They will persuade you to join them!  My sister and my daughter are both I‘s.  Because of their influence I have been sky diving, skiing, SCUBA diving and parasailing.  My life is truly more exciting with them in it!


“The best luck of all is the luck you make for yourself.”     Douglas MacArthur

  • Motivates others through interaction and persuasion
  • Convincing – able to move people toward a common goal
  • Uses diplomacy in a tactful approach to people
  • Breaks tense situations with levity
  • Warm, personable, compassionate – will cheer you up if needed!


“Attitude is everything.”   Dianne Von Furstenberg

  • Their optimistic outlook on life is an inspiration to others
  • Persuasively communicates the vision, mission or goals
  • Sees the big picture
  • Generates enthusiasm
  • Makes things happen by believing things will work out


“Never let the fear of striking out keep you from coming up to bat.”   Babe Ruth

  • Makes the best of unpleasant circumstances
  • Accepting of others, sees their character and their good qualities
  • People-oriented, team-oriented, involved with a positive attitude
  • Negotiates conflict skillfully
  • Intuitive at reading the emotions and feelings of others
  • Creative problem solver with innovative ideas – thinks outside the box

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Strengths of the C

C’s are Cautious, Conscientious and Competent

The contributions of the C. Personality Style to our society are immense.  They are the Type who look at things objectively and improve them.  While they can be creative their strength is analyzing an established product or concept and making it better.  The technology of our future is in their hands.


“Measure twice, cut once!   English Proverb

  • Plans for many contingencies, leaves nothing to chance
  • Assesses facts with objectivity and lack of emotion
  • Approach will be systematic, careful, methodical and accurate
  • Emphasis on details


“There is a better way – find it!”    Thomas Edison

  • Has clarity of purpose and will stay focused on the task with self-discipline and intensity
  • Questioning mind is always searching for answers
  • Enjoys learning the details
  • Reliable, predictable, accurate
  • Thinks in terms of bottom line


“Plan your work….then work your plan!”    Margaret Thatcher

  • Fantastic ability to use critical thinking and see what’s going on under the surface
  • Will do their homework in order to make a thorough evaluation of both the choices and the consequences before taking action
  • Completes tough assignments correctly the first time as the end result is a personal statement of their ability
  • Loves to be correct!
  • Clearly assess positive and negatives
  • Keeps everything under control

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The I and C in Weakness Mode

I had the opportunity to spend more than a year observing a case of the I Personality Style and the C Personality Style working in their “Weaknesses”.

A national corporation that manufactured products used in the construction of multi-million-dollar office buildings decided to enter the small office construction market.  In order to accomplish this they decided to create a new model housing their 2 divisions – sales and product distribution – under one roof in order to accommodate the faster paced environment of the smaller construction sites.

The corporate office hand-picked 7 teams from current employees and placed each of the teams in new sales/warehouse facilities across the country.  Each team was to develop a process for approaching the small construction market.  After 18 months the top producing office would become the template for future facilities across the country.

I was hired to be the assistant to Rob, who would manage the facility in my area.  He had been with the company 20 years.  During the previous 10 years the office under his management was consistently one of the top 5 offices in the country.  He was known for ingenuity.  Many of his sales techniques were used in training new sales reps.  Rob was fast-paced, people oriented, enthusiastic and high energy.   I spent several days training at his old office with his previous assistant.  His staff was devoted to him.  He had obviously pulled the best from everyone who worked with him which is a characteristic of the I Personality Style working in their strength.

Our Product Manager was Larry.  He was transferred to our facility to manage receiving, warehousing, delivery and installation.  He had been with the company for 30 years, starting as a laborer and ended up supervising the huge warehouse in our area.  Many of his systems and processes had been implemented in warehouses across the country.  He had a great reputation, was 2 years away from retirement and was excited about the challenge of making this new concept work.

Larry’s Personality Style was a C – reserved and task oriented.  He was methodical, detailed and analytical.  He was as quiet as Rob was charismatic.  Larry thrived on systems, planning, precision and contingencies while Rob ran on instinct and changing course rapidly when needed.  They were complete opposites in Personality Style and focus.  Rob focused on the positive while Larry obsessed about the negative.

Rob wanted to get business in the door fast.  He didn’t mind an initial small profit margin as he was certain we could win future more profitable contracts by demonstrating quality service.  Larry preferred a huge cushion in the bids to cover unexpected emergencies.  He felt Rob was unrealistic, unfocused, impatient and setting us up for failure.  Rob felt Larry was critical, pessimistic, worrisome and slowing everything down.

As they focused on what they called each other’s “shortcomings” they totally missed each other’s strengths!

Over time they both deteriorated to operating in their Personality Style’s Weakness Mode.  Larry was openly critical of Rob in front of customers; he used intellectual intimidation with him and focused on every error he could find rather than complementing what was going well.  He became protective of his domain, stayed in his office with the door shut and he pulled away from the team.  He became a rigid enforcer with anyone who came near the warehouse.  People obviously started to avoid him. Communication with Larry broke down rapidly.

Rob took Larry’s criticisms as a personal rejection. Criticism was not something Rob was used to experiencing.  He reacted to Larry with emotional outbursts and arguments.  Around the rest of us he became very self-promoting and needed our reassurance that he was doing a great job which, after a time, he wasn’t.  He spent a lot of time in the field, which would have been ok if he had a cell phone, but this was the pre-cell phone era.  His out-of-pocket time slowed our response time when a contractor needed a quick decision from management.  As a result we began to lose future contracts with companies who had been willing to give us a try.

After 12 months our office production was well behind the other 6 satellite offices.  Everyone on the team except Rob and Larry could clearly see why we were failing but no one (including me as this was long before I was introduced to the concept of DISC) had any clue as to how to turn the situation around.  After 14 months our office was closed.

While watching the dynamics between Rob and Larry was painful at the time it has certainly become a very valuable tale to share related to how our strengths can deteriorate to a weakness given the right circumstances.  Their story is a great example of how companies can spend a lot of money to hire people who are the cream of the crop, but who might fail miserably when the dynamics of the new job prompt them to work in their Personality Style Weaknesses.

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Weaknesses of the I

I’s can be Impulsive, Indecisive and Inconsistent

An I, who is naturally light-hearted, fun-loving and well liked, can become very fearful of not being liked when stressed or challenged. They can become weak-willed, easily pressured and can suffer in the areas of morals, truthfulness, ethics and integrity. The may become…..Impulsive, Indecisive and Inconsistent.


  • May compromise themself in order to be liked
  • Resorts to self-promotion, loudness, huge gestures, emotion and exaggeration to regain attention
  • Prefers to argue rather than concede a point
  • Acts and speaks without thinking
  • Becomes impatient with normal tasks and with people they think are slowing them down


  • Unrealistic expectations due to inattention to detail
  • Runs on emotions, impressions and gut instincts
  • Lack of focus
  • Relies on charisma rather than preparation
  • Often has more confidence than ability


  • Dislikes attempts at structure and doesn’t want limitations on freedom
  • May suddenly avoid a situation where they may be rejected
  • Natural restlessness results in disorganization, forgetfulness and poor time management
  • Ignores realities that are not pleasing
  • Controls by manipulating or talking smoothly
  • Difficulty focusing while attempting to work alone leading to poor follow through

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