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The DISC Behavioral Model - A Communication and Performance Enhancing Tool


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In 2003 I attended a DISC seminar, and I have to tell you it was the best thing that ever happened to me - at least as far as my business and personal relationships are concerned.

In a nutshell, the DiSC behavioral model provides an easy way to help us understand different personality/behavioral styles. It helps us recognize different styles’ general behavioral tendencies, such as: - understand each style's communication tendencies, - understand why each style tends to behave the way they behave - get a good understanding of each style's motivators and demotivators, - teaches how to communicate most effectively with each style - teaches how to deal in conflict with each style - and much, much, more. . .

As soon as I got home from that conference I gave my wife and son a big hug and apologized for misunderstanding them for the past many years (I was married at that time for 8 years - my son was 5).

At work, the subordinates who I thought of as slow, annoying, perfectionist, stuck-up, etc. , etc. , I suddenly viewed as most valuable employees and started seeing their strength. Understanding my subordinates’ personality styles helped me communicate better with everyone around me and took away a ton of stress that was present earlier due to my unrealistic expectations.

The truth is that up till that moment I viewed everyone from my “box, " and everyone who was different seemed “less" somehow. I tend to be very fast paced, I like to use humor in my conversations, bring fast decisions, and take action instantly on things that need to be done. Everyone who seemed too cautious, too serious, and who in my eyes was not jumping on tasks right away with 100% steam, I thought they were lazy or otherwise less than “normal. "

Well, that “famous" seminar opened up my eyes to what “normal" was. I realized that I lived the past few decades observing the world through the prism of my personality style and all the other styles (especially the one opposite from mine) seemed strange, whacked, crazy, or other descriptors that don't look too good in print)

The Four DISC Behavioral Styles

Here's what I learned:

Ever since Hippocrates (circa 400 bc), we've know that there are four temperament styles. In the centuries, after Hippocrates, his theories have been further developed, with one element staying constant: most researchers agreed that there were four main personality/temperament/behavioral styles. The DISC Behavioral System was originally developed by William Moulton Marston in the 1920's , and published his findings in his book The Emotions of Normal People, in 1928. In the next decades, several researchers and companies have built on Marston's findings, till 1970 when John Geier and Dorothy Downey created the DISC Personal Profile System.

The DISC Personal Profile System - like most other personality theories - also identified 4 styles: 1. Dominance 2. Influence 3. Steadiness 4. Conscientiousness

In the next 30 years - following the creation of the DISC Personal Profile System - the DISC behavioral style profile (or DISC assessment, as some call it) was thoroughly researched and tested for validity and reliability and was continuously improved till the DISC based profile and DISC based seminars became one of the most popular behavioral system based learning tools on the market. By today more than 40 million individuals worldwide have either completed a DISC profile , or have participated in a DISC seminar. A highly distinguishing characteristic of the DISC Behavioral System is that it helps individuals go beyond better understanding themselves, build more successful relationships, and improve performance - all extremely helpful characteristics; however, the DISC Behavioral System also helps in easily recognizing different behavioral styles that one encounters on a daily basis and provides simple and easy-to-remember guidance on how to most effectively communicate with each style.

The Four Styles

Here is a brief description of each style:

Influence (I) - fast paced and people oriented Enthusiastic and friendly, I's are outgoing, high-energy people who like to influence others with their wit, humor, and persuasive skills

Steadiness (S) - moderate paced and people oriented Caring and supportive, S's are calm and kind people, who are great at providing support and comfort to others, follow rules, are great listeners, and great team players.

Conscientiousness (C) - moderate paced and task oriented Cautious and concerned, C's are careful and detail oriented people who love to work with tasks and concepts; like to plan their work and are committed to quality and accuracy in all areas.

It is important to note that very few of us are one style or another. Most of us are a combination of two or even three of the styles; however, each one of us has a dominant style - a style that is mostly used and is most visible by those around us. Once you recognize the dominant style of another person, (if familiar with the DISC concepts) you can easily predict certain behaviors of that person, as well as better understand WHY that person behaves as s/he does. This information allows the person familiar with the DISC model to better understand why someone behaves the way s/he does and improve communication based on that understanding. For example, if someone you know, seems to always be in a hurry, talks fast, might NOT naturally smile too often (except if DI combination); and tends to speak his/her mind with little or no inhibitions but without too much stories or humor (again, unless this person is a DI combination), this person is most likely a “D Style" individual. If someone around you talks fast, moves fast, loves to tell stories and is humorous, as well as smiles most of the time, this person is most likely an “I Style" individual. Another behavioral style that tends to smiles a lot, but in a more reserved way, is the “S Style"; however, this person is more moderate paced both when talking and completing tasks or activities. The S Style is the best listener of all behavioral styles, and is more likely to abide by rules and traditions than either the D's or the I's. Finally, you'll recognize the “C Style" individual by their tendency to be more reserved and cautious, talk at a more moderate pace, take life and the tasks at hand more seriously than any of the other styles, and are very particular about following rules, order, and accuracy.

DISC - a Tool Designed to Improve Communication and Performance

It is important to note that DISC was not designed to label people, but rather to help understand those around us and improve our communication with everyone. It is simply a tool that helps us see that people around us - who we might have thought as weird (or other “creative" names) - are perfectly “normal" and simply differently wired then us; and it provides clear guidance on how to improve our communication with each style. DISC is also a valuable tool in helping individuals improve personal performance. Organizations worldwide use it as a tool to help employees improve their performance. In the past 30 years alone, more than 40 million individuals either attended a DISC presentation or have completed a DISC-based assessment, such as DiSC Classic, DiSC 2.0, or DiSC PPSS.

© Copyright E. G. Sebastian, 2008. All rights reserved.

E. G. Sebastian is a leadership development consultant and an international speaker (speaks 6 languages); is a certified DiSC Behavioral System trainer and DiSC personality assessments distributor.

To hire E. G. to provide a DiSC-based presentation for your group call him toll-free at 877.379.3793, or contact him by E-mail at . To learn more about DISC, visit and sign up for our 7-Part DISC eCourse . . . You may reproduce this article on your website, eZine, or print newsletter as long as you keep the above bio as part of the article. (please shoot an email to and let us know that you'd be interested in publishing more DISC, relationships, team-building, and performance related articles. )


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