Many of the problems I see in businesses — if not relationships in general — stem from either a misunderstanding of others or a focus on our challenges rather than our strengths. So I’ve been doing a 4-part Dear Coach series on the DISC behavioral types to help us better recognize our own motivations as well as others’. Today I’m featuring our final type, The C, who is The Contemplator.
Contemplators are society’s intellectual compliance officers. Cs were traditionally referred to as the Compliant style, but that’s misleading. They do not automatically comply with just any rule—it must be based on logic. In fact, they take great offense to regulations or actions that are not well reasoned.
Cs are most comfortable in environments that are orderly and analytical. Their ability to process complex details makes them naturals in professions such as engineering, accounting, technology, law, and education. They are insatiably curious and tend to excel in school. If you’ve ever met anyone who said they wish they could just stay in school forever and get paid for it, chances are you were talking to a high C.
Aside from Spock himself, few people have as much respect for logic as the high C. They certainly possess emotions and compassion; it’s just that those elements don’t drive their decision-making. They are simply focused on the task at hand and achieving the most useful, reasonable outcome, which often makes them highly effective advisors.
Each of the DISC styles has a specific emotional motivator that tends to guide their decision making. The emotional motivator for C’s is fear. The value they place on caution, reason, and thoroughness can override their ability to take action. “Paralysis through analysis” ensues, causing their business or project to become mired in indecision. Ironically, as life-long learners, Cs can have a difficult time equating “making a mistake” with “learning,” tending instead toward perfectionism. Therefore, colleagues must be prepared to factor in time for their C co-worker to deeply consider information. In fact, Cs function best when they have plenty of opportunity for careful deliberation, or when they can plan in advance in order to meet a deadline.
As far as the high C is concerned, too many people make too many avoidable mistakes because they don’t take the time to think things through. When Cs are innovative, changes are always carefully calculated and rooted in finding solutions more reasonable than what’s currently available. Those solutions are then thoroughly tested. Results are measured and analyzed. Additional research and tests are done. Only then are announcements made about the solution’s effectiveness. Think of Warren Buffet. He’s worth $67.6 billion, has lived in the same house since 1958, and finally upgraded his car to a 2014 Cadillac. His energies are never focused on changing what works perfectly well. And his financial decisions are not emotional. He’s quoted as saying “I insist on a lot of time being spent, almost every day, to just sit and think. That is very uncommon in American business. I read and think. So I do more reading and thinking, and make fewer impulsive decisions than most people in business.”
In business, the Contemplator’s lack of emotionalism often brings clarity to situations that otherwise feel murky. At their best they are amazingly diplomatic, have the ability to calmly deliver difficult news, and can diffuse volatile situations. Additionally, their objective, task-oriented focus allows them to measure results, review data, and know how to strategically apply that information. They are particularly essential in the realm of finances, helping to keep a company viable by being the money watchdogs. They don’t call them “CFNos” for nothing. Many a high C has kept a high I from financial ruin.
To sum up, C’s are the logicians: Conscientious, analytical, and practical. Also great debaters, the high C style is a tremendous resource to have on your team. They exact high standards of conduct and knowledge, which tends to push those around them first to distraction, but then to excellence. They are top-notch researchers whose detailed data analysis often fuels successful strategies for growth.