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If You Want To Inspire Teens, Know What Motivates Them


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We know how important it is to communicate with our youth, but few of us take into consideration their behavioral styles, which affects their actions. Understanding how they see the world is crucial if we want to help them become self-motivated.

For example, when we observe teens interacting others, we are not aware they are using a behavioral style tendency for that particular situation. That behavior style may or may not be the same one they use in another environment.

We may simply observe one teen who is the ring leader with peers, and seems to always demand their way. Another teen appears to thrive on being the center of attention, and seems to need constant contact with others. Then there is the quiet teen who appears easily persuaded by their friends. And, there is the teen who seems quiet but not as engaged with people as the others. He prefers to sit back and observe people than to participate in group activities.

To adults these four examples are simply the way the individual teen behaves. But if you look closer, you will find the teens are using tendencies of four classic behavioral styles which are present in all people. Everyone has a combinations of these behavioral styles, but usually one style dominates.

Let me explain:

  • The young person who is the ring leader, and wants always to have things her way is a Dominant behavioral style.

    Dominance: Direct & Decisive. D's are strong-willed, strong-minded people who like accepting challenges, taking action, and getting immediate results.

  • The teen who can't seem to live without his friends, and must constantly be around them is an Influencing behavioral style.

    Influence: Optimistic & Outgoing. I's are “people people" who like participating on teams, sharing ideas, and energizing and entertaining others

  • The laid back teen who seems to let friends take the lead and goes along with her friends, despite her own feelings, is a Steady behavioral style.

    Steadiness: Sympathetic & Cooperative. S's are helpful people who like working behind the scenes, performing in consistent and predictable ways, and being good listeners.

  • The quiet teen who doesn't seem to make friends easily, or have as many friends as others, may be a conscientious behavioral style teen.

    Conscientiousness: Concerned & Correct. C's are sticklers for quality and like planning ahead, employing systematic approaches, and checking and re-checking for accuracy

    These four styles are based on the work of psychological researcher from Harvard, Dr. William Marston. In the 1920s, Marston investigated human emotions based on how people reacted to the environment around them. He found that people's emotions and behaviors fall under four basic behavioral categories. D, I, S, and C.

    In 1972, Inscape Publishing expanded Marston's Model and developed the DiSC Classic, a self-assessment instrument that has been used by 40 million people around the world to help people understand themselves and others for better relationships.
    Understanding young people's behavioral styles and knowing why they do and say the things they do, is a powerful way to effectively communicate with our youth to inspire them to live successful, productive lives.

    If you want to effectively communicate with youth and to inspire them, it's important to know how they perceive you. I invite you to visit to learn how you can help young adults become successful. Walter Jackson, keynote speaker, behavioral consultant, and author of “Sporting the Right Attitude: Lessons Learned in a Troubled Family. Lessons Learned in a Troubled Family, " an inspirational book for young adults.

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