Everyone is a Combination of All Four DISC Styles

6 Oct, 2016 / by Christina Bowser

Have you ever heard someone tell you, "I have no S-style in me at all?" This statement is not true. One must always look at the relationship of all four DISC styles. In other words, we cannot interpret the four DISC styles independently.

Combination of All Four DISC Styles

Assuming we don't have all four DISC styles!

Not that long ago I was talking with a client who is an excellent and experienced DISC trainer. What makes him effective in facilitating DISC sessions is his passion teaching about DISC styles. He helps clients learn the DISC model to become more effective by modifying their behavior. His passion is contagious and his stories illustrate the key points clearly. He uses lots of exercises and games making the learning fun and experiential. Consequently, the participants always rave about his DISC training.

During the conversation, he casually said: “I have no S-style. I have no patience for teamwork.” I was surprised because he has so much experience and is well known for delivering great training sessions. Thus, I wondered if he made that type of statement in front of his training participants.

Using that lack of DISC styles as an excuse

Incidentally, I should not have been that startled. After all, I often hear people make comments such as “I have no C-style”, or “She is all I-style” and “He is 100 on the D-style scale.” I often hear these types of statements. I even hear it from people who have used DISC profiles for a long time. These statements are simply are not accurate.

Generally speaking we do understand the intention and meaning behind these comments. In essence they are used to get to the point quickly or to emphasize how much energy one or more of the DISC styles demands from us. In fact, they are also frequently used as an excuse for not modifying behavior or reinforcing stereotypes about people. Consequently, it is a good habit to avoid making such comments. This is especially true if you are a DISC practitioner.

Don't focus on DISC styles independently

DISC assessments measure the respondents’ behavioral style. In essence how we behave with different people and in various situations. The resulting DISC profiles show our comfort level among all four DISC styles. As a result, when we are interpreting the DISC results, we must always look at the relationship among all four DISC styles. In other words, we cannot interpret the four DISC styles independently. The same applies when we are identifying the styles of others.

For example, we may know that a person has the D-style as her predominant or “the highest” DISC style. As a result, we have some helpful information about her behavioral style. Usually, and generally speaking, this means that she is quick to make decisions, impatient listener, and assertive in expressing her viewpoints. However, if we make decisions about how to adjust our behavior on this one DISC style only, we could be seriously misguided in our modification of behavior.

As an illustration, think about two individuals. One is a DI-style and the other one is a DC-style. Hence, both persons are “D-styles”. But do they react to others the same way? Of course they do not. On the contrary, they are quite different in many ways including their preferences to relating with others. DI-style wants to achieve his goals with and through people. Conversely, DC knows exactly how to achieve her goals the one, correct way: her way.

Dangers of ignoring DISC styles

Consequently, if you use same approach of communicating, motivating, influencing style with both of them, your results are not what they could be. For instance, while you may be very successful with the DI-style, your results with the DC-style individual could be dreadful. Worse, your wrong style modifications could have a long-term impact since the DC-style may have lost trust in your abilities.

As a result, we know we must be careful not to focus on one DISC style to identify others’ styles to decide how to modify our behavior. Instead, we need to be cognizant of the fact that the vast majority of individuals are very “blended” DISC profiles. Incidentally, even the few individuals who have only one DISC style above the middle line in their DISC profile, still have the other DISC-styles. Yes, they may be “low” but they still exists.

Look for patterns of behaviors

In addition, we need to make sure we do not jump into conclusions too quickly. Instead, we should look for patterns in behaviors that increase our confidence that we have accurately identified the person’s style. While it is tempting to think we have clearly identified someone’s style, we need to be diligent to continue to look for additional cues to verify or recalibrate our initial assessment.

Focus on the least comfortable DISC style

Furthermore, most individuals are fairly comfortable with three of the four DISC-styles. In other words, they have three DISC-styles above the middle line in their DISC profile. Some people find it surprising that these types of profiles are actually the most common type. Moreover, typically these individuals’ fourth DISC style is quite low on their DISC profile. Subsequently, this DISC style takes a fairly significant amount of energy from them.

For instance, someone could be a DSC-profile, with a low I-style. This style of an individual can access and use D, S and C behaviors relatively easily. He may need to adjust his style but, the changes are going to be minor. Plus, he won't require much energy. That is to say these three styles are all quite comfortable for him.

On the other hand, the I-style behaviors will demand a significant amount of energy from this individual. You'll feel drained after a while though it is sustainable for short periods of time. If the person lacks the willingness and motivation to make the behavioral adjustment, the modification may be short lived. For example, think of a sales call. If the other party on the phone is a naturally high I-style salesperson then sales call may be end quickly because the DSC-style prospect gets worn out and frustrated.

Results of looking at all DISC styles

As a result, think about how you identify the DISC-styles of others. It is very good practice to also remember to identify the DISC-style that person is not. Frequently, by simply avoiding the behaviors associated with that one DISC style clearly improves your success in the short term. Meanwhile, you have gained additional time to look for additional information to more specifically identify the DISC style of the person. Next, you can correctly modify your own style to enhance your success.

The beauty of the DISC model is that it is easy to learn, use and practice. We must make sure that we do not abuse its user-friendliness by over simplifying it. If we do so, we will make mistakes in our assessments of others’ styles and thus, fail to modify our behavior most effectively.

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Christina Bowser

Written by Christina Bowser