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Understanding DISC Series - Part Two

Wayne Kehl | March 13, 2012


In the last issue of “Understanding DISC” we described the basic elements of DISC: Dominance, Influencing, Steadiness, and Compliance. If you do not have that article available you can find it on our website on this link:
In this issue, we want to delve further into the attributes of the various elements of DISC. 
It is important to understand the basic emotions that are prominent to each element of the DISC.
·         The primary emotion of a “High Dominant” is ANGER
·         The primary emotion of a “High Influencer” is OPTIMISM/TRUST
·         The primary emotion of a “High Steady” is NON-EMOTIONAL (emotions are hidden)
·         The primary emotion of a “High Compliant” is FEAR
Note that when the scoring falls to the lower side of the scale in each of the examples given above, the emotions will be essentially the opposite of that shown. Hence, a “Lower D” will dictate patience and slowness to anger; a “Lower I” will tend to be pessimistic and lacking in trust; a “Lower S” will display more emotion; and the “Lower C” person will show little fear and take more risks.
Those basic emotions are only part of the story, however. Let’s look more closely at how the emotions of each element of DISC might manifest themselves in real life.
The High Dominant: You will generally find this person to be a director of action, a driver of activity and a courageous defender of their position. They never shirk from controversy and they are quick to take on any argument or fight that might come their way. They are quick to anger and will usually be the ones you find ranting and raving in a loud voice in any group of people. When they have a cause to promote, they will take on anyone and climb any mountain to make it happen. They are laser-focused on results and overwhelmed by a desire to be successful. High “D’s” often make good sales people, managers, athletes and captains of industry because they are competitive to a fault and never give up.
The High Influencer: High “I’s often smile a lot and talk too much. They are expressive, enthusiastic, fun, trusting, optimistic, charming, confident and usually popular. They love to be the centre of attention and they are constantly selling themselves to everyone they meet. They are fast talkers and whenever they hear silence they fill it with charming conversation. High “I’s” need to be loved and they spend a great deal of time chatting with everyone around them in order to earn the pats on the back that they crave. They are not keen on detailed work and will often use their charm to convince others to do a lot of their support work for them. They are the funny ones you will find in any crowd...quick to tell a joke and to make a joke out of a serious subject. Occasionally they misjudge their audience and provide humour at inappropriate times. High “I’s” often make good politicians, actors, comedians and salesmen because of their love of their own voices and their need to associate with other people.
The High Steady: These folks generally relate well to others and are amiable and friendly to all they meet. They are laid back, patient, sincere and appear to be stress-free. They are loyal to those they trust and they never quit a job until it is finished. They are aware of other people’s needs and they love to help and support their team. They tend to work slower than some others, but the work they do is unquestionably of the highest quality they are capable of producing. They don’t like to act on anything until they have the approval of people they trust and they do a lot of research to make sure they are on the right path. Because of their calm demeanour and selflessness, they make great support players for superstar High Dominants and High Influencers whose focus is mainly on themselves. They are often considered the “glue” that holds the team together. High Steady people make good assistant managers, athletes in defensive positions, nurses and teachers.
The High Compliant: The High “C” is analytical, methodical, restrained, diplomatic, accurate and precise. They like to put things into rows, columns and boxes. They thrive on planning and organization and they love rules and regulations for everything. The never fret over a mountain of minutia and they love to dot every I and cross every T. They will not make a decision without facts, figures and details. They want information in a format they can see so that they can analyse and verify it before acting on it. They have high standards and they turn in work that is as perfect as they can make it. The more complex the task, the more satisfaction they get out of doing it. Sometimes, they will slow a process down because they are not happy with the details or the amount of data they have on hand. Due mainly to their love of complexity and precision High “C’s” make good accountants, engineers, scientists and airplane pilots.
Note: When any of the DISC scores is on the lower end of the scale, you can expect behaviour opposite to that described above.
Adaptations: As much as these DISC elements can be very telling as to the behaviour you might expect from each person who possesses them, there are times when those people must “adapt” their behaviour in order to be successful and do a better job of fitting into general society. Here are some examples.
·         When a High “D”, a High “I”, a Low “S” or a Low “C” goes to church, the environment will call for each of them to adapt their behaviour to the opposite of their natural style. If they are going to fit the church environment, they will have to adapt to become Lower “D”, Lower “I”, Higher “S” and Higher “C”.
·         When a Low “C” is working on tax returns, he or she must adapt to higher “C”.
·         A high “I” salesman must adapt his style to a lower “I” in order to get through the complex sales reporting systems that they must deal with.
·         When training new employees, a High “D” might have to lower his or her natural dominance considerably in order to avoid intimidating them.
·         When faced with deadlines and urgent situations, a High “S” might have to lower their steady style and speed up in order to finish on time.
Note that anyone can adapt their behaviour for short periods of time, but if they are forced to adapt to extreme levels for an extended period of time, they will ultimately become distressed, disengaged and in worst-case-scenarios might suffer from burnout. That is why it is important to match people to work that they are behaviourally suited to and put the right people into the right jobs!
In the next issue of “UNDERSTANDING DISC” we will explore how the elements of DISC blend with each other in each person.


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