DISC Assessment – How to Dial Down Dominance

Since everyone has a bit of each of the four primary factors, it is important to understand that the mix of levels or elevations determines how much governance these four factors will have over your behavior. In this article we are going to talk in depth about the Dominance factor’s potential negative impact and when it is appropriate to dial it down. A warning of caution regarding ethics: By situationally adjusting your Dominance factor, you must make certain that you are using it to make the situation better. Never plan to use it in a scheming calculating way and always think of Noble Intent.

The Dominance factor’s influence will give you the motivation to get where you need to go and the momentum to accomplish great things in your life. But your Dominance factor can sometimes put you on the bumpiest of roads because the nature of Dominance is to be powerful perhaps to the off-putting set of circumstances where it tips the scale to be forceful. The Dominance factor is the hammer that has the potential to oppress, coerce, tyrannize, and afflict harm. Dominance can be viewed as steamrolling over others when it is at the far negative end of the highly elevated Dominance spectrum. In extreme cases, highly elevated domineering people have been known to take license to torment, browbeat, or bully others. In these cases, they must learn the consequences of their Domineering behavior.

A person’s Dominance factor can be driving – leading them to become controlling and authoritative in extreme instances.

Your Dominance factor can be assertive and sometimes move on to be highly aggressive. Although it can be commanding it can also sometimes be the factor that imposes your will on others even against their wishes. And although your Dominance factor is the mechanism that makes you strong and able to realize your goals, it might lead some with very highly elevated levels to think they are superior to those less dominant in nature – especially those who are unwilling, unable, disinclined to stand up to them. Learning how to dial down your dominance to the appropriate level for the situation will help you protect yourself from the profound weaknesses of the factor, while hopefully still retaining the positive attributes it can present to your life.

Dominance can sometimes get in the way of rational decision making.

An elevated dominance factor puts a focus on results, not necessarily on the method or procedures of getting there. This may be during a team meeting or while working on a project, or it could be when you are out to dinner relaxing with friends and family. In any case, if you do have a natural tendency to unleash your elevated Dominance factor’s behavior, you must learn how to dial it down for various situations. When you are successful at dialing your dominance down you’ll find that you’ll have better-balanced relationships, might get things done smoothly, and you might not stress out those around you as much as you normally might.

Although your first instinct may be to take control and dominate or to make sure that your opinions are heard; step back and let things happen without jumping in right away.

When you do this you might be surprised at how often people step up without you having to do so first. By simply waiting, you give other people the opportunity to lead. This might be one of the best gifts you can give to those you care about and those you are helping along in life.

Remember that you can use these steps for the purpose of situational behavioral flexing, which means adapting to situations that you face in your life, or for long-term behavioral morphing if you feel that you want to change your habit pattern of behavior. Figure out which works best for your current life situation and your values and then make a determination to approach these steps either situationally or over the long term. Either way, you will be giving yourself a skill set that most people never learn in their lives.

These are a few steps that will help you to learn how to dial down your dominance. First, let’s look at the immediate steps you can take to dial down your dominance.

Immediate Steps:

  1. The first immediate step to take is to Take a Time Out

If you are in an elevated Dominance state, you need to recognize it and curtail it. The key is to recognize your triggers. For more information on this, I suggest you review the activity in the Dial-Up your Patience session. Then decide if the Dominance level your behavior is operating at is appropriate for the situation. Good questions would be something like:

“Am I reacting like I should be?”

“Would I want my boss to see me acting like this?”

“Would I be proud tomorrow of what I am doing today?”

“If someone else was doing the same thing and I was coaching them, would I be suggesting behavior changes?”

If your elevated Dominance behaviors aren’t acceptable, here are some pointed suggestions: Just be quiet. Count to 10. Refrain from charging out of the gate. Hit the pause button.


Impose a timeout on yourself. Do whatever works to stop your elevated Dominance. You might want to have a few stopping mechanisms ready.

You can take a break by saying something like: “I appreciate your point of view. Give me a couple of minutes to take this information in before responding.” Or “I think that I am getting a bit more emotional about this because it’s been my project for so long. Let me step back and look at it from your point of view and I think that will help me get some balanced perspective.” Or if you are dealing with friends or family members say: “I hear what you’re saying, and I know that you listened to me, too. How about if I don’t make the decision right now. Give us both an hour to think about it. I think this will help us both come to the right decision.”

  1. Listen to Others.

While in a meeting or talking to someone, let them do most of the talking for a change. Sit back and listen attentively. When they’re done talking, make sure you have at least one second – preferably three seconds before you respond. At the same time, use verbal mirroring to rephrase the problem or solution in their own words. For instance, if they say that they are excited about the solution, you should use the word excited, instead of saying something similar like, I am eager to see this implemented. Use the same words to describe emotions and the other person will feel that you care about them more and you’ll find that you can empathize with them a lot better.

Verbal mirroring is one of the most effective ways to accomplish comprehensive communication. This is an excellent way for you to practice dialing down your dominance. The bottom line on listening: People like people who take a genuine interest in them. Listening involves not only hearing the other person but comprehending them. People are usually annoyed or offended if you pretend to be listening without trying to understand what they actually mean.

  1. Let others speak for themselves

Then, even if you have to prep them, let them shine. After they speak, don’t explain to the rest of the audience what you think they meant. Let them do it. Failure to do this is considered rude and you take away the other person’s personal power.

  1. Feedback & Coaching

People with elevated Dominance personalities often feel compelled to provide feedback and coaching whether appropriate to do so or not. Refrain from coaching them in front of others. Wait until after the meeting. Write down what you wanted to say and save for later. If you remember to form the feedback and coaching course, you should never provide feedback in front of an audience anyway. Plus, you should prepare your feedback words for maximum impact and this is best done with forethought. One final thought on feedback – determine if it is appropriate to deliver feedback. Unsolicited feedback is often not warranted. If you do feel that feedback could be a gift to the person, ask them if you can provide it. Have respect if they say “No!” This information is in the Feedback and Coaching course.

  1. The next step is to Follow the rules.

You may feel tempted to break the rules or insist that they don’t apply to you. Do not do this. Listen to the rules and follow them. When you are working in a rules-based environment, you must dial down your dominance to comply with those rules. The dominance factor can cause you to ignore rules or create your own guidelines which can lead to lawsuits and possibly your firing. It can be frustrating for elevated dominance individuals to have to play by someone else’s rules, but it is necessary if you work for a large organization.

There are reasons why organizations put policies and procedures into place. The elevated dominance individual may need to consider dialing back their dominance factor when they are in positions that require rules to be followed. Fortunately, this is a part of the dominant factor that you can dial back on the long-term fairly easily, eventually depleting your stress from the situation.

  1. Subsequently, Look Through the Perceptual Prism Model.

Remember that this is not your universe. We all have a tendency to see the world in our eyes and forget that there are other people in this universe as well. By looking through the Perceptual Prism, you are able to get a better view of the overall situation. This is incredibly important in the workplace. Get the second and third perceptual positions so that you are able to make a good decision. If you want more information about this, view the Perceptual Prism session in the Change Course of Indaba’s Enterprise Development Suite.

  1. Next, take the time to Think Through Situations.

When faced with a decision, take the time to think about it and what it means. If you find that you make a decision and stick with it and that there’s no way your mind will be changed, take the time anyway. Look back at the facts and be thoughtful about the consequences that could occur.

The dominance factor can lead you to make decisions that are intuitive and quick. If you haven’t had prior experience in a certain decision-making situation, you should absolutely take a step back and go through the Rational Decision-Making Process. Review these sessions in Indaba’s Decision-Making Course.

  1. Another immediate step is to Get One Task Completed At A Time.

Elevated Dominance individuals have a tendency to shuffle between projects or tasks. This can delay these responsibilities from being accomplished and can hinder the job responsibilities of others. You may have found that you leave little, minute tasks to the last minute because you’re focusing on bigger and better things. Or, you may have pawned those things off on lesser people to do. Make sure you do those things yourself. Leaving small tasks is a sign that you don’t think you should do them, and that maybe you’re too good to take care of it. You need to understand when it is appropriate to delegate and when others will think poorly of you for it. This can cause conflict in your life that you could otherwise avoid. You’ll find that you will have better time management when you start focusing and completing on one task at a time.

  1. The final immediate step is to Target More Energy into building trust and strong open relationships and friendships.

Sometimes the dominance factor can make you focus too much on getting a result, instead of thinking about how relationships help you in the future. Whenever you feel yourself getting annoyed about little things that your coworkers, family members, or friends are doing, remember that you need to build your relationship with them by focusing on their perception of the situation.

“Trust is a calculated risk made with one’s eyes open to the possibilities of failure, says Robert Levering, but it is extended with the expectation of success. This important relationship quality is an important part of life, even in animals.

Think about the shark and the pilot fish. The sharks, who are the top predators in the ocean, will not eat a pilot fish because of the purpose they serve. The pilot fish eat all of the leftover food that gets lodged between the sharks’ teeth. This is a collaborative relationship that satisfies both parties. This is the same logic that can be applied to the relationship between people. You will occasionally have to take leaps of faith and assume that the shark won’t eat you if you help it out. If you can learn to target energy into cooperating and helping to meet the needs of others, you can build trust, which will inevitably build better relationships.

Secondary Steps:

After going through the immediate steps to take, here are some secondary steps that can help you dial down your dominance factor.

  1. First, you need to learn when to Let an Argument Go.

In the immediate steps, you learned to take a time out and step back. In this secondary step, you need to actively decide to let things go unspoken – even if things are heated. This might be a lot harder to do that when things aren’t so emotional or uncomfortable. If you begin to butt heads about something, just make the decision to let it go. Do not fight to the death over your opinion. State what you think and let it go.

If the other person is as adamant about their idea to fight over it, chances are, you won’t change their opinion. Say “I appreciate your idea/opinion, but I do disagree, and let it go. Do not let your anger or drive take you into an argument that is unnecessary or unproductive – especially one that could potentially do long-term harm. It will cause unnecessary conflict in your life and push people away from you.

  1. Second, you need to Periodically Review Your Biases.

Biases can affect your life in ways that you aren’t even conscious of. Until you make a conscious effort to uncover your biases in decision making, you will continue to let them affect your life. Biases can come in the form of anchoring, where you base your decisions on only one key item; framing, where you continually frame a situation in a way that benefits you; or a plethora of other biases. It is recommended that you review all of the biases in Indaba’s Decision-Making course for a comprehensive understanding.

  1. Next, Let Someone Else Be the Leader.

In a group or team setting, let someone else be the leader and let them take control. This may be difficult for you but let someone else use their talents and skills to take control of the situation. Although you may think that you can do it best and that you know exactly what to do.  Trust their judgment and let them do things the way they see will be best. There are times in your life when someone else will have more experience and be better suited to lead. You will gain credibility if you can spot those times and help that person lead, instead of leading yourself. This can build better teams and improve productivity across the board.

Bob Uecker is a former major league catcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. During one interview with Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show, he told Carson, You know, I made a major contribution to the St. Louis Cardinals pennant drive in 1964. What did you do? asked Carson. I came down with hepatitis and had to be taken out of the lineup. “How did you catch hepatitis?” asked Carson.  “The Cardinals trainer injected me with it.” There are times in our lives when we have to realize that we may not be the most skilled person to complete the job. Take a step back and assist in the best possible way you can when you believe it can lead to better project completion.

  1. Finally, Ask Someone Else What You Can Do around the office or your house.

Rather than taking control and doling out responsibilities and tasks, ask someone else what you can do. This will show you what it’s like to be on the other side and give you a chance to see how other leaders act. Ask the leader or someone else what you should do to contribute. They’ll be surprised you’re asking them rather than taking matters into your own hands. They will feel more status because of this and will return the favor by promoting your status as well.

If your goal is to dial down your dominance factor to the optimum level, make sure you complete the activities in the activity section.

I hope you have enjoyed the steps on how to dial down your dominance factor. Be sure to incorporate each of the four primary factors into your life as the situation warrants. Behavioral flexibility is the key to your success.

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Founder DISCflex

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