Sun | May 19, 2019

Trevor E.S. Smith | Are there different shades of you?

Published:Sunday | March 3, 2019 | 12:05 AM

Do others see you differently from how you view yourself? Do you exhibit different behaviours? Could you have behavioural blindspots?

Exchanges with a HR practitioner in our coaching programme revealed that while her Coaching DNA analysis on the FinxS platform from Extended DISC was on point, she was initially surprised that she was not displaying more relatedness and people orientation.

It turns out that she had bought into the need to be a strong agent of change. She needed to introduce structure and discipline in a lax environment. She now understood herself and her role with clarity. This reinforces the value of behavioural assessments as a timely mirror.


Years ago, I rushed to keep an appointment with a banker. I hurriedly put on a tie in the car. On my return to the office, I went to the bathroom to see that one side of the tie was outside of the collar of my shirt!

The image I had of myself is not the one that the banker saw.

That is a fundamental lesson about behaviour. The image we think we are portraying is not always how others see us.


“That is not me!”

“Really? But that is how we see you.”

I was working on team building with the partners of a large accounting/auditing firm. One partner strenuously challenged the results of his Extended DISC analysis. The report indicated that his natural style showed a preference for the C-style. For example, being more given to detailed analysis rather than quick decision-making.

The report also indicated that there was in fact a “perceived need to adjust” that placed him in the D-style quadrant – decisive, driven, result-oriented. The reports displayed what could be crudely described as ‘inner you and on-the-surface perspectives’.

How the partner saw himself was actually picked up by the report. However, it also showed the hidden roots of his behavioural make-up that he so vigorously tried to deny.

Interestingly, the partners supported the findings of the analysis. That is also how they saw him. The report was, in essence, his look in the mirror and his discovery of something that he wished was not so.


Recognising and accepting our natural preferences is really useful. Knowing who we are underneath the persona that we have adopted in response to the environment, helps.

It gives us a psychological place of safety that we can retreat to from the stresses of life.

It can provide a safe haven when we say our prayers and pull the cover over our heads. That allows us to recharge our batteries and be ready to adopt the winning persona that we perceive we need to be in order to succeed.

For example, on the job, we may need to be outgoing and to interact with others. However, we really prefer to be alone or in the company of family and close friends. Displaying the required behaviour day after day can be taxing.

Having clarity about our safe haven helps. For instance, we can take a quick break in the restroom to connect with our inner selves. When we do that intentionally, it puts what is going on outside into perspective. Our stress management will improve in leaps and bounds.

View situations in which you have to behave differently as a visit to a place from which you will soon return. Do not be overwhelmed by it.


Many individuals are concerned about adopting different personas. They have the feeling that they are being hypocritical. We need to release ourselves from those concerns and, instead, actively strive to pull the right behavioural approach to each and every situation from our toolkit. Be flexible!

We have to accept that there are times when our preferred behavioural style is not a good fit for a particular situation. Choosing one that works makes good sense and will enhance our effectiveness. One style does NOT fit all circumstances.


Request a copy of our publication, How DISCerning Communication Drives Teamwork: A proven blueprint for developing high performing teams.

- Trevor E.S. Smith/Success with People Academy Solutions align, drive and track performance. Our SPIKE performance management, governance & compliance e-platform supports compliance,tracks performance and guides learning & development. We certify Leadership professionals and coach/mentors and develop engaged, high-performing teams. Avoid bad hires with FinxSscreening solutions. Ask about how to create your own turnkey coaching business. Email: