A Brief History of the DISC Assessment

People often wonder, what is a DISC assessment? Let’s start off with a little background on DISC and the man who created it, Dr. William Moulton Marston (pictured below). Dr. Marston 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 led to behavioral differences, and that each person's 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 for the DISC model of human behavior and later led to the modern-day DISC assessment. We have since 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 DISC personality profile test was created by Dr. Walter Clark, an industrial psychologist.

Dr. William Marston

What does DISC stand for?

Each letter in the DISC acronym stands one of the four major behavioral styles in the DISC model. Each and every one of us possesses a range of intensities and traits of all four personality styles, but we all have one style that shines over the others as our dominant personality type. It is important to understand our own personalities as well as others. Gaining this perspective through taking a DISC assessment will help you in dealing with people you work with every day because understanding each other's personalities is a major tool in communicating effectively.

D is for Drive

Some personality traits that describe D personality styles include being direct, decisive, problem-solvers, self-starters, and risk-takers. These individuals are the innovators of the group, always pushing the envelope and challenging the status quo. This has its advantages but can also bring on disadvantages. For instance, their high ego strength can lead them to overstep authority and use an aggressive attitude with team members and competition. Another weakness that D’s possess is that they often spread themselves too thin. They want to do it at all and this 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 types are so intense about everything they care about, they sometimes come off as difficult to approach. Here are some do’s and don'ts when working with D styles:

  • Do: Speak with confidence and get directly to the point. D styles are results-driven so make sure you have information on how new ideas or ventures will impact the company before you approach them.
  • Don’t socialize about irrelevant topics and try to not repeat yourself or make too many generalizations. D styles like to get straight to the point.

I is for Influence

I personality types are enthusiastic, trusting, persuasive, and optimistic. They bring a lot of positive and creative energy to the table and are usually known as the "peace-keepers" in the group. They have an approachable personality and tend not to choose sides, making team members feel comfortable with confiding in them. Being everyone's friend can also be a weakness for I types if they become more concerned with being popular than coming up with results. Here are some Do's and Don'ts when working with I styles:

  • Do: Be straightforward 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 outside of the box.
  • Don’t completely ignore their ideas or take away the social aspect of their working process as they need that in order to be more effective overall.

S is for Steadiness

The characteristics that best describe S personality types include team players, predictable, steady, and good listeners. S styles are hardworking and dependable. They are usually the team member you can always count on to contribute their part and are usually compliant with authority. A possible weakness for S styles 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 Don'ts to keep in mind when working with S styles:

  • Do: Show them recognition for their hard work 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 overly aggressive won’t get the results that are needed.

C is for Compliance

Some characteristics that describe C personality types best are analytical, careful, accurate, and precise. C styles are 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 make sure that all the work they do is held to the highest standard. One possible weakness that can come up with their method is that they can become bogged down with details. C types are also prone to stand down when it comes to verbalizing problems and tend to give in rather than argue. Here are some Do’s and Don'ts when working with C styles:

  • Do: Communicate with precision and data if you're going to oppose any idea of theirs. Make sure to gather 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 short description of each of the four styles above, you may have seen some characteristics that describe yourself in each one. If you're not sure which style is your most dominant, take the PeopleKeys DISC Assessment to find out.

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Posted By: PeopleKeys

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