Jan 04, 2018 | 4 Minute Read

How to spot certain behavioral styles through casual observation

group of people.jpgWorking well with someone relies heavily on being able to understand them and how they operate. If you had a “cheat sheet” on behavioral style for every person you came in contact with, that would give you such an advantage as to how to win influence from that person. Truth is, we all have the ability to easily spot others behavioral styles by observing subtle and not-so-subtle cues they are constantly giving off. You can figure out a person’s primary behavioral style through casual observation within seconds of meeting them and use it to your advantage in dealing with them on their terms.


Identifying people with a dominance behavioral style is a fairly easy task. They are often intently focused on the task at hand moving quickly with a purpose. There are no wasted steps from these folks, they move from place to place with a purpose and usually at a brisk pace because things need to get done.

Taking charge and making decisions quickly, trusting their gut while often times not necessarily having all the information needed, dominant behavior types are the risk takers. Their hobbies include competitive sports and work. 

If you asked a dominance personality person for a quote, they may say, “Some people want things to happen, others wish they would happen but I make things happen.”

Walking into a room, this person will have their head up and move quickly, producing a breeze as they whisk by. They stand with one hand in their pocket and use the other hand to talk emphatically using very linear motions with lots of pointing. Their weight will be on their front foot.

To communicate effectively with them, you need to have all your facts lined up and deliver a compelling case very quickly. They do not want to hear problems unless you’ve already considered the solution to fix it. Be straight and to the point and do not try to engage this individual in small talk; there is no time for or interest in that. If your communication is in email form, stay away from long-form copy and use bullet points instead to stay more on point.


People who fall into the influence category love people. Their world is all about others and they are energized in the presence of people. Working alone, especially in isolation, does not appeal to people with this behavioral style.

They have the ability to make others feel comfortable and are the eternal optimists, always looking on the bright side. People in this group are the most social and talkative individuals. Their hobbies include large social events and traveling. Of the four personality styles, they are the ones most likely to have pictures of their friends either in their possession or hung up somewhere as decorations.

Their mantra may be, “Live like someone left the gate open.” This is the person who walks into a room and scans for other human beings. Trying to make a connection with someone through eye contact, this person is the most likely to bump into things or trip because their focus is on other humans and not on the objects positioned throughout the room.

This person will stand with both feet open and will begin to sway. Often they have a song in their head and they’ll sway, creating their own solitary dance to that music that they hear in their heads. They talk emphatically with their hands, but use circular motions; a distinct difference from the linear, pointing motions of the dominance behavioral-types.

To communicate with an Influencer, all you need to do is start a conversation. Chances are they will beat you to it, but having a conversation about absolutely anything will appeal to this person. Making a lot of eye contact makes them happy.


The steadiness behavioral-type is all about loyalty. They are loyal to one person, one store and certain procedures. They believe slow and steady wins the race. They do not get too high or too low, instead trying to keep an even keel throughout their day. While they may seem shy or quiet, they choose to let the dominance and influencers take most of the spotlight in a group conversation.

Hobbies may include yard work and spending time with their families. When a steadiness person walks into a room, they will walk toward another person, but when they get close to that person they will often put their head down and move out of the other person’s way, deferring the space to the other person.

This person’s motto may be, “You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

They stand similar to the dominance person but the weight is on their back foot, instead of the front. Their hands tend to be behind their back and used much less, or not at all, during conversation. While sitting, this person will either kick their legs out, or sit with them crossed or even sit on one foot.

Communicating with this person is all about keeping an even keel and steady pace. Don’t come at them with a lot of force or too much excitement; that will make them uneasy. While they are people focused, they are less interested in having hours-long conversations compared to the influencers.


The compliance folks tend to be extremely accurate in everything they do. They are the most observant of the rules of society, believing rules were created for a reason. They have extremely high standards for themselves and others. When working a project, they seldomly veer from the instructions. They may consider do-it-yourself projects and puzzles to be hobbies because they like to figure things out and piece them together to complete a task.

This person may sometimes be considered the pessimist of the group, living by the motto, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”

Compliance behavior people walk fast and if something or someone is in their way, they will continue to walk straight toward the obstruction, and veer slightly at the end only to avoid making contact with the object or person. Immediately thereafter, they will return to their original path, wanting to make sure not to waste any steps.

In conversation, they are the most likely to stand cross-armed, and they are notorious face-touchers, putting their hands on their chin quite often. They will sit somewhat sideways, almost as a body-block, not completely opening up to the person they are talking to because conversation is really not one of their favorite pastimes.

Communicating with a compliance personality means being full of factual information. This group doesn’t like gray areas or indecision. They want as many details as possible but they demand accuracy. Not fans of small talk, they prefer you stick to the facts and bring all of them to the conversation so they have a complete picture of the situation at hand.


According to Judy Suiter, President of Competitive Edge, Inc., “People don’t get up in the morning thinking about how to make it a bad day for you.” It's all about how you respond to people of different personalities. People are just different and because of that, they behave differently. Understanding these differences, how to spot them in others and specifically understanding what works and doesn’t work between particular behavioral styles will help you tremendously as you deal with people at work, at home and all throughout the world.

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Topics: behaviors

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Dave Clark

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