German writer, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said, quotFor many people, one of the most frustrating aspects of life is not being able to understand other people39s behavior.quot If that39s true then we39d all be less frustrated if we could understand behavior. There is a way to do that, as I write in my eBook, quotFrom Can39t Stand to Understand - How to Handle Difficult People.quot Here are seven steps you can take to improve your people skills by understanding - and adapting to - people whose behavior can drive you crazy. Understand DISC Learn the characteristics of the four DISC behavioral styles first defined by Harvard psychologist William Moulton Marston in his book, quotThe Emotions of Normal Peoplequot 1928. The four behavioral factors all people have in different degrees are D-Dominant how we handle problems and challenges I-Influencing how we influence others S-Steadiness how we respond to the pace of the environment C-Cautious, Compliant how we respond to rules set by others Know How to Identify Each Person39s Core Style A person39s core style is his/her highest behavioral factor and the one that dominates their behavior. People who have the core D and I styles are extroverted those with the core S and C styles are introverted. High I39s and S39s are people-oriented D39s and C39s are task oriented. Once you39ve determined someone39s core style, you39re better equipped to know how to communicate and relate to them to build rapport and have a more positive relationship. So, identify a person39s core style this way Extroverted and task-oriented Core D Extroverted and people-oriented Core I Introverted and people-oriented Core S Introverted and task-oriented Core C Learn How to Communicate with Each Style Core D They admire efficient, confident people. DO be clear, specific, brief and to the point stick to business, be efficient. DON39T waste their time, be disorganized, ramble, socialize, or chit-chat. Core I They want to socialize, so DO be friendly and outgoing, let them talk and share experiences, smile and laugh with them. DON39T patronize or talk down to them, be too businesslike, unfriendly or impersonal, or take credit for their ideas. Core S Tone down your speech and body language with them. DO be patient, sincere, logical, soft-spoken, and non-threatening. DON39T be loud, abrupt or rapid, threaten or pressure them, force quick decisions, touch or move things on their desk. Core C They need a lot of data, facts, and time to make a decision, so DO be straightforward, accurate, and realistic, present specifics, be organized and follow through, give them space, keep your distance. DON39T be disorganized, messy, casual, informal, abrupt, chatty, or try to convince them with feelings and opinions. There39s a lot more to understanding how to relate to each style, but these guidelines will go a long way in helping you improve your communication with others. Know Your Own Style39s Strengths and Weaknesses The goal is to capitalize on your strengths and work to improve your weaknesses. Ironically, a weakness or limitation is usually a strength overdone. Core D strengths Makes quick decisions, efficient, gets things done, and likes to be in charge. Core D weaknesses Can be domineering, intimidating, abrasive, impatient, makes decisions without thinking of the consequences. Core I strengths Good conversationalist, friendly, optimistic, trusting, good at giving presentations and mediating conflicts. Core I weaknesses Can over-control the conversation, poor listener, rambles, can be unrealistic and too trusting. Core S strengths Quiet, friendly, helpful, methodical, good worker and team player. Core S weaknesses Clams up, avoids conflict, becomes passive-aggressive, is resistant to change, slow to make decisions. Core C strengths Analytical, organized, detail-oriented, precise, accurate, follows rules. Core C weaknesses Too low-risk, requires too much data before making a decision, can be fearful, pessimistic, a perfectionist. Being aware of your limitations is the first step. Pick one right now that39s holding you back and begin to work on eliminating or at least improving this negative behavior. Don39t Take Bad Behavior Personally No one likes to be chewed out, criticized, ignored, or otherwise mistreated. While we shouldn39t allow people to treat us badly, we need to understand where people are coming from and realize they39re behaving in the way that39s most comfortable for them. If you39re the type who likes to talk things out, ad nauseum, and you39re dealing with someone who39s uncomfortable showing their emotions it can make both of you unhappy. We should set clear boundaries with people about what they may and may not say or do around us. Yet we shouldn39t accuse people during conflict. Don39t say, quotYou make me so angry when you won39t talk to me.quot Use quotIquot messages. Say, quotIt makes me uncomfortable when you won39t open up to me I feel you39re ignoring me and it39s hurtful.quot That takes the pressure off of them and they39ll be more open to listening to you and changing their behavior. Adopt the attitude that if someone has a problem with you it39s their problem, not yours, and don39t get all bent out of shape about it. Moliere said, quotA wise man is superior to any insults which can be put upon him, and the best reply to unseemly behavior is patience and moderation.quot Good advice. Adapt to Other People39s Styles The way to improve communications with others is to do three things Understand your own behavioral style, understand the styles of people who are different from you, and adapt your style to theirs. If you treat people the way they like to be treated, they39ll warm up to you and treat you better. The real magic begins when both people adapt their communication styles to each other. This formula is great for developing better personal relationships and for team building. Be Non-Judgmental Oscar Wilde said, quotSelfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.quot When you think about it, it39s egotistical to get upset with someone for just being who they are, even when they39re not on their best behavior. People generally aren39t trying to upset you they39re doing what they feel is best for them, which most of the time is moving toward pleasure or away from pain. These are some of my best tips for handling people who drive you up the wall, across the ceiling, and out the window.