The High Priests of (Self?) Righteousness?

I have a great deal to thank a client who only attended one session before quitting! Let me explain. My work is very bespoke: I am helping my client learn and understand their unconscious process so they are enabled to influence others unconsciously. This particular client wanted worksheets, a set curriculum and cast iron assurances about the outcomes to our coaching. When I wasn’t specific about the ‘how’ (although clear about the ‘what’), he couldn’t bear it. It bothered him that I couldn’t cite chapter and verse as to where we would end up and he left.

I have alot to thank him for. After that experience, I realised I needed to be very clear to manage expectations and wrote a FAQs sheet that nowadays each of my new clients receive. This particular section was written with him in mind:

“The exercises will not be traditional such as workbooks. We will teach you strategies to become aware of your unconscious process. You might find you feel uncertain and even emotional. This is natural (and called ‘Cognitive Dissonance’) since real learning is taking place to move you from conscious incompetence to conscious competence. We ask that you allow these feelings to happen (as well as emailing or phoning your trainer) and work through them.’

People like my former client are great teachers. They care deeply about getting things right and helping you to do the same. In the DISC system of personality profiling, they would be defined as High Cs.

High Cs – Introverted and Task Focused

30% of the population


Dress: tends to appear one step up from convention – extra smart and sharp

Without meaning to, these people can put you on the defensive from the start. They want to find fault, to poke holes in your proposition so they can say ‘no’. They are always looking for ways out and reasons for not changing the way they do things. These cautious and concerned people really care about getting things right. They are detail orientated and will expect you to care about accuracy by providing chapter and verse to reassure them that you mean business. They can disappear into the detail unless you keep their minds on the big picture since the process can become all-important to them – so much so, they may forget about the outcome. It doesn’t do any harm if you can provide research findings and strong indication that you or your solution has worked successfully with a number of companies, especially if the companies are FTSE 100 ones (these people are suckers for proof!). Give them stuff to read and take away so they can gnaw at the information you provide at their leisure. They can go to bed between their spreadsheets!

In my experience, these people are worriers and most likely to fall prey to anxiety and panic since chaos and confusion bother them. Things nibble away at them until they have teased out a system. They are the ones most likely to bring complaints to the attention of the organization are High Cs since they tend to see themselves as ‘high priests/priestesses of rightness’ that bring order to proceedings! And when they are pointing out what’s at fault, they genuinely desire things to be done right and get irritated when they are awry. They urgently need space and will work happily all day on their own. If in an open office environment, they may wall themselves behind barriers and prefer to email, even though the recipient is just across the aisle! A deepest fear is that they will be ‘found out’, to be humiliated and shown to be incompetent and inadequate – a fraud. To reassure them, be calm, confident and un-phased by their questioning, showing them you are on top of the process and have done your homework. They need you to lead them to the decision and if you can recognize their expertise, you’ll win a positive response to help that decision along.

To sell to them:

  • Be on time and fully prepared
  • Approach them quietly and armed with proof
  • Be ready to go into detail
  • Email rather than phone as a first approach – they need plenty of warning
  • Be patient with them – they want reassurance you are credible, so relax and don’t get defensive!
  • Admire their expertise – they long to be appreciated for their knowledge and learning
  • Keep gently bringing them back to the outcome
  • Limit expressiveness and make your manner matter-of-fact and logical
  • They overwhelm easily so keep your performance very understated
  • Be persistent and precise about what the next step looks like

I hope that this profiling is useful to you. I would be delighted if you were to get back to me if you wanted to comment or seek clarification of anything. I’d welcome your thoughts and insights.





About anrah

Anrah is a business development consultancy specialising in helping senior women in engineering and science, their teams and doctoral students increase 'presence', improve communication and generate impact to win stakeholder buy-in at the highest level.
This entry was posted in Four Stages To Influential Leadership and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to The High Priests of (Self?) Righteousness?

  1. Ewan A Menzies says:

    Hi Sarah,

    Brilliant, I deliver DISC all the time but it is so helpful to hear it from you – you explain it so eloquently. Being so “High I” I often skim over things and do not give the High C the time the need to discuss the detail.

    Also, I love your FAQ to manage expectations in the begining of a relationship. I do recall also loosing a clinet after one session – very High D! Will tell you about it when we catch up next Friday.

    Best wishes,


    • anrah says:

      Thanks, Ewan. It’s characteristically generous of you to offer me your appreciation. I’m very much looking forward to meeting up with you next Friday at The Infinite Group lunch.

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