People often wonder, what exactly is a DISC Assessment?  Let’s start off with a little background on DISC and the man who created it, Dr. William Marston (pictured below).  He was a Harvard scholar and published a book in 1928 called Emotions of Normal People which explains his theory of how one’s normal emotions leads to behavioral differences, and that each persons behavior might change over time.  In his work he also came up with four behavioral styles: Drive, Influence, Submission, and Caution. These four styles became the building blocks to the modern day DISC assessment, although we have renamed submission to Steadiness and we now use Compliance instead of caution.  Although Marston built the groundwork for DISC, it wasn’t until the 1940′s that an actual personality profile test was created by Walter Clark, an industrial psychologist.

Enough of the history lesson, the most common question PeopleKeys gets is; what does DISC stand for? Each letter in the D.I.S.C. acronym stands for a different major behavioral style. Each and every one of us possess characteristics of all four types, but we all have one style that shines over the others as our dominant personality type. It is important to understand our own personality as well as others. Gaining this perspective will help you in dealing with people you work with everyday, because understanding each others personalities is a major tool in communicating effectively.

D stands for drive and the main characteristics D’s posses are: direct, decisive, problem solver, self starter and risk taker. These individuals are the innovators of the group and always like to push the envelope and challenge the status quo which has its advantages but can also bring on disadvantages. For instance they’re high ego strength can lead them to overstep authority and use more of an aggressive attitude to deal with team members and competition. Another weakness that D’s posses is they often spread themselves to thin because they want to be able to do it at all and it sometimes leads them to attempt too much at once. D’s are great to work for in a business atmosphere because they have that bottom-line approach and are always searching for new ventures and ways to make the company better. Since D’s are so intense about everything they care about, they do sometimes come off as hard to approach. Here are some do’s and dont’s when dealing with D’s. Do: Speak with confidence and get directly to the point, also they are results-driven to when you are coming to them with new ideas/ventures make sure you also have the information on how those ideas with impact the company. Don’t: Socialize about non relevant topics and try to not repeat yourself or make too many generalizations, like I said earlier..they like to get straight to the point.

I stands for Influence and they are enthusiastic, trusting, persuasive, and optimistic. I’s bring a lot of positive and creative energy to the table, they are usually known as the “peace-keeper” in the group. They have a more approachable personality and tend not to choose sides which is why all of the other team members feel comfortable confiding in them. Being everyones friend can also be a possible weakness for I’s if they become more concerned with being popular then coming up with results. When dealing with I’s here are some do’s and dont’s. Do: Be straight forward with them, they are easy to communicate with but if you are vague about what you want they tend to use their own creative ideas. Create an environment that promotes brainstorming and rewards individuals for thinking out of the box. Don’t: Completely ignore their ideas or take away the social aspect of the working process because they need that in order to be more effective overall.

Steadiness is what the S stands for and the characteristics that best describe them are: team player, predictable, steady and they are good listeners. S’s are hardworking and dependable and they are usually the team member that you can always count on to contribute their part and the are very complaint with authority. A possible weakness for I’s is that they are reluctant to change and it can take them a long time to adjust when changes are made. Here are some Do’s and Dont’s to keep in mind when dealing with I’s. Do: Show them recognition for their hard work and and ability to be a team member that you can always count on. Don’t: Be pushy when introducing them to new things, they need time to adjust to change and being over aggressive won’t get the results that are needed.

C stands for compliance and some characteristics that describe them best are: analytical, careful, accurate and precise. C’s are going to be your go-to person on the team for information as they are known as the “fact-finders” of the group. They are very detail oriented and they make sure that all the work they do is held to the highest standard. Some possible weaknesses that can come up with their method is that they can become bogged down with details. C’s are also prone to stand down when it comes to verbalizing problems and can at times give in rather than argue. Here are some Do’s and Dont’s to use when dealing with C’s. Do: Communicate with precision and data if your going to oppose an idea of theirs you should have all of the facts ahead of time. Don’t: Be vague when discussing problems or explaining a job they need to do, if you don’t give them details you won’t be able to communicate effectively with them.

After reading a little description of each of the four styles I’m sure you saw characteristics that describe yourself in each one, as I did myself! To get a better idea of which style is your most dominant, take the PeopleKeys Free DISC Assessment here.


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