Alter approach to communicate with captains

Apr 29, 2014 by Lucy Chabot Reed

This is the second part of a two-part story about The Triton’s presentation at the Superyacht Summit in March, “Speaking Captain: How to communicate with yacht captains more effectively and get better results.


Triton Publisher David Reed and I learned two powerful things when we asked 10 yacht captains to take the DISC personality test. The first is that yacht captains are generally task-oriented (meaning they are Ds or Cs on the DISC scale) and fall on some gradient between outgoing and reserved.


Click to see or download the DISC personality profiles.


(To learn more about how we determined that, read our first story on this subject in the April issue, or online at Better communication with captains is not only a captains responsibility.)


The other thing we learned is that the people who work with them — be they crew mates, support staff or business people —  can alter their approach to more efficiently communicate with yacht captains to either get a better response or share more information.


First, let’s learn what it means to be D and C captains.

All about Ds

D captains are more outgoing, and outgoing people tend to move faster, speak faster, and decide faster. To others, it can look like they are in a hurry.

They are self-confident so they tend to speak in a louder tone, and often show their thoughts and feelings outwardly and intensely.

They are dominant and direct, so they say what they think. To others, it can seem as though they are too blunt.

They are determined, decisive and tough. They look at the big picture, so they want to know “what’s the bottom line?”, even interrupting others to get there. To others, they can be seen as impatient.

Independent and make decisions independently, so they talk about themselves, their goals, the results they seek.

They are strong willed, competitive and demanding, often stating their opinion as fact.

When they are stressed or uncomfortable, they can be aggressive and blunt, self-centered and overbearing.


All about Cs

C captains are more reserved, and reserved people tend to move slower so they often appear quiet, even timid. They speak in a softer tone and they are private, so they keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves.

Although they are more reserved, they are also task-oriented, so they observe, evaluate, and analyze situations before deciding. And because they do, they can be critical (not based on opinions, but on the facts). They focus on the details, talk about the facts and ask a lot of questions.

They are calculating and exact. They have likely studied the specifications carefully and done their homework on products/services.

They are cautious and careful, so they won’t easily express an opposing opinion.

They are logical, formal and disciplined, so they like to follow the rules.

When they are stressed or uncomfortable, they can be withdrawn and even shy, they get stuck on the details at the risk of the big picture, and are unwilling to take risks.


Speaking captain

D captains make decisions fast, independent. They don’t need to talk to anyone else, they don’t need referrals, they don’t need permission. This is the decision maker, and they want to feel like they are doing something important and new.

They will take risks, but most important thing to know is that it has to be their idea. If you try to convince or manipulate a D personality into doing or buying something, you will lose every time.

To communicate with D captains, get to the point quickly and provide direct answers to questions. Stick to the task and topic at hand. They lose interest quickly if the conversation turns frivolous or off target.

Use a results-oriented approach. Identify opportunities and challenges, and provide alternatives. Ensure that he wins.


A few tips of what not to do with D captains: Don’t go into all the details or give too much information; don’t try to control the conversation; don’t talk too much; don’t be emotional or take issues personally; and don’t make physical contact.


Conversely, C captains need a lot of supporting information (details) before making a decision comfortably. They may not be the decision maker, so give them the tools to logically decide for themselves. They will present a case to the boss for support, but won’t create conflict over it. The more logical a C captain can be, the better the chance of getting support.

They they take their time deciding, so dedicate time to talking through the information. And be patient. C people avoid risks and follow the rules.


To communicate with C captains, be thorough. Use data and facts and include all relevant information, even offering written supporting materials. Examine an argument from all sides. If you disagree, do it with facts, not opinions.

Avoid new solutions; use proven ideas instead. Listen carefully, and answer questions calmly. Slow down, speak calmly and politely, and be patient.

A few tips of what not to do with C captains: Don’t move too fast; don’t spend time on small talk; stay on task; don’t debate or introduce conflict; don’t lose patience answering questions or providing details; don’t withhold information; and don’t expect a decision right away

Lucy Chabot Reed is editor of The Triton. For more information about DISC, visit Comments are welcome at


About Lucy Chabot Reed

Lucy Chabot Reed is publisher and founding editor of The Triton.

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