• Daniel Jenkins

How to Communicate with Your Teen | The DISC

"Sixty percent of all human communication is nonverbal, body language; thirty percent is your tone. So that means that ninety percent of what you're saying ain't coming out of your mouth." - Alex "Hitch" Hitchens (Hitch, 2005)

For what it's worth, that quote could be completely incorrect. It's from one of my favorite Will Smith movies; 2005's Hitch. Still, can we agree that people occasionally misinterpret the words we're actually saying? Depending on our context, tone, history, body language, or other factors, people may not hear what we want them to hear. As a parent, have you ever had a situation like this:

Parent: "Little Jimmy, that's a bad idea. You shouldn't do that." Your Teen: "I'm gonna do it anyway." Parent: *Repeat another 1,000 times*


Anyone Else: "Little Jimmy, that's a bad idea. You shouldn't do that." Your Teen: "Thank you so much for telling me! I won't do that. You're the best!" Parent: *Astonished bewilderment*

All it takes is for the right person with the right communication style to get through to your teen. It works in reverse too. I'm sure there have been times when your son or daughter tried to communicate to you and you didn't receive it the way they intended. Here's the deal though: communication is always the responsibility of the communicator.

As a public speaker, if I stand before an audience and they fall asleep, don't pay attention, or misunderstand me, that's my fault. It is my responsibility to know my audience and communicate in a way they can receive it. Even take this very article you're reading. If I use boring, scientific, or psychological terms, how long will you read before moving on?

When communicating with your teen, they are your audience. It is your responsibility, as their parent, to communicate in a way they may receive it. That's why it's important to know, both, your communication style and your teen's as well. Only then can you both communicate well with one another.

There's a Better Way to Communicate

So, how do you get to know your communication styles? That's where the DISC Profile comes in. On the surface, the DISC looks like most other personality assessments. Instead of focusing on personality, the DISC specializes in communication styles. The DISC breaks down communication in four separate styles represented by the letters:

D - Dominant, Driver

I - Influencing, Inspiring

S - Steady, Stable

C - Correct, Compliant

Each of us has some combination of these styles. What's different are our varying intensities of each style. For instance, I am considered an "Assessor" because I have higher intensities of I and C styles. According to my unique DISC Profile from 48 Days, I have the following characteristics:


• Creative, artistic

• Desire for approval of self and abilities

• Enthusiastic, optimistic

• Persuasive, talkative


• Ability to be expressive and creative

• Ability to have a balance between work and play

• Flattery, praise, popularity, and acceptance

• A friendly environment


• Knowing what is expected

• Few conflicts and arguments

• Ability to mix socially

• A forum to express ideas

If you read through my previous blog post on the Enneagram, you may see how this complements my Perfectionist personality style. For my students and their parents, some of the most valuable aspects of the DISC profile came from these sections:

  • "Remember, a [person with this communication style] may want..."

  • "Greatest fear:”

  • "When communicating with a [person with this communication style], DO:"

  • "When communicating with a [person with this communication style], DO NOT:"

There's also a great section on how different styles interact with one another. So, as a parent, if you're a high D (dominant, driver) and your teen is a high I (influencing, inspiring), your teen may view you as "argumentative, dictatorial, arrogant, domineering, nervous, and hasty." This is one small example of how the DISC profile can benefit the way you and your son or daughter communicate.

3 Steps to Improve Communication with Your Teen

If you're ready to better communicate with your teen and improve your relationship, here are a few steps:

1. Take a DISC Assessment

Go to https://profiles.48days.com/product/profile-classic-disc/ and buy the Classic DISC Profile. This is the same exact assessment we use in week two of Self-Leadership Academy. I highly recommend that you and your teen both take the assessment. That way you two can share the same process and learn about each other as well. Taking the DISC with your teen shows humility and that you're doing your part to improve your communication as well.

2. Read Through and Highlight Your DISC Profile

Read through and highlight your report. There's no point in taking the actual assessment if you don't read through it in detail. Use a green highlighter to mark areas which you completely agree with. Use yellow to highlight areas which you sort of agree with. Ignore the areas which absolutely don't apply to you. Remember, like any personal assessment, nothing is perfect. If you're honest with yourself, you should find that the majority of text will be green. As a bonus, notice how your DISC complements your Enneagram personality style.

3. Discuss the Results With Your Teen

Discuss the results together with your teen. Pay close attention the sections on how to communicate with each other and compatibility of different communication styles.

Once you go through this process, don't forget about it! Use your DISC profile as a guide for your communication. You may discover new ways to talk with your teen. It will take some time for those old habits to go away and for your new habits to develop. Be patient and respectful with one another. Acknowledge your mistakes and be humble enough to apologize. Your teen should see this, respect your effort, and become more willing to talk with you.

It is my hope that your relationship will grow stronger through this process. Many of my former students and parents have been greatly affected by discovering their communication style. You can too.

Give Your Teen a Community of Students to Grow With

Discovering your communication styles through these three steps is a great way to start. If you would like your teen to understand their communication style and how to communicate better, enroll them in Self-Leadership Academy. I am currently accepting applications for fall 2019.

  1. Go to EquippingTeens.com

  2. Click on "Enroll Now"

  3. Complete & Submit the Application Form

That's it! I'll guide your son or daughter through the process of going from a great teen to an extraordinary adult.

Equipping Teens - White on Transparent.p

PO Box 958

Fairview, TN​​

Tel: (615) 200-7185

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