Observing DISC Behavioral Styles at the Coffee Shop

Where would we be without the plethora of coffee shops that populate nearly every city in the world these days? More than just a place to start your day or get some breakfast on your way to work, the coffee shop has become a remote office, a central meeting location for civic organizations or study groups, as well as just a place to decompress, relax and maybe get a slice of cake and a latte. Since the coffee shop draws all walks of life for a number of different reasons, it is the perfect location to observe all DISC behavioral styles in action.

The D or Dominance Behavioral Style is probably the one tapping his or her foot impatiently if there is a bit of a line. If someone is taking too long considering their options on the menu or in the pastry case (most likely a C or Cautious Behavioral Style), the D may be rolling his or her eyes or sighing. The D may use their time in line to continue to talk on the phone. They probably wear a Bluetooth device. They know what they want when it is their turn to order and, while polite, they may not chit-chat with the barista. They often have strong voices and make direct eye contact with others.

The I or Influencing Behavioral Style is the easiest to point out in a public situation. They are the ones scanning the coffee shop looking for people they know. If they don’t know anybody, they are looking at the titles of the books being read because it could serve as a perfect entry point into a conversation. “How are you liking the book? Have you read anything else by that author?” The I will get into a conversation with the barista and, if they come often enough to the coffee shop, probably has a relationship with them. “How are the kids, Dave? What did you think of the Oscars last night?” Those with high influencing behavioral styles smile a lot, talk with their hands, use touch and are often friendly and enthusiastic.

The S or Steadiness Behavioral Style is hard to pick out among the customers. They tend to operate at a slower pace and can be methodical. However, those with a High S like to serve people, so they are often behind the counter. That is not to say that there aren’t different behavioral styles on staff, but those with a high steadiness behavioral styles are often team players. They do well during morning rush hours at the coffee shop. Those with a high steadiness behavioral style speak in a relaxed and soft tone of voice.

The C or Compliance Behavioral Style follows the rules and abides by their own high standards. In a line, they are giving the person in front of them the appropriate amount of personal space and they may bristle if the person behind them is not giving them the same courtesy. Another way to pick them out of the crowd at the coffee shop is that they may be sitting by themselves. They may be using the coffee shop as a place to recharge their batteries with some alone time. Those with a high compliance behavioral style also tend to have high aesthetic needs, so they may be looking out the window or at a table that gives them a good view of some of the artwork on display. Those with a high compliance style tend to have a firm posture and make direct eye contact with others but their tone of voice tends to be low.

This week, go grab a cup of coffee and give yourself a few minutes to look around. Take a seat where you can observe the line and do some people watching. Try reading the room. You will likely see a lot of people in a short amount of time and it will serve as good practice for observing behavioral styles. The more you do it, the better you will be at it.