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Posts Tagged ‘behavior’

World According to DISC – Darth Vader: King of the D’s

Friday, November 11th, 2011

“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…”

Okay, make that 34 years ago in this galaxy right here… an iconic character was introduced to the world and he instantly became one of the most recognized and feared (and lampooned) villains in history. I’m of course talking about none other than Darth Vader.

In the original movie, a.k.a. Episode IV: A New Hope, the Lord of the Sith emerges as a character of pure menace, and also one of pure initiative. certainly Vader is not past using a little force, or even The Force, to get things done. Hmmm, where have we heard that sort of description before? Sounds a little like a DISC behavioral style, doesn’t it?

Forceful, decisive, goal-oriented, intimidating… where can we find these terms grouped together? On the DISC adjective chart, of course. Just look in the column marked High D. Yes Lord Vader is a High D – perhaps the king of the D’s. Want some examples:

Forceful – how about the opening scene where his ship overtakes and boards the rebel vessel? Or when he lifts one of the rebels off the ground with one hand to question him?

Decisive – Vader never hesitates when faced with a decision. From field promotions (and throat-crushing demotions) to dispatching the Emperor himself, Darth has never been one to shy away from making the tough calls.

Goal-oriented – When your replacement Death Star is falling behind in production who do you call? Emperor Palpatine knows who the galaxy’s top fixer is – good ol’ Darth is just the fellow to put things back on schedule.

Intimidating – 6’6″ tall, known to choke people to death for failure – even when they’re not on the same starship, a history of violent rages (we’re not saying that a high D means you’re violent, but D’s can get angry when they don’t get their way), handy with a light saber and one of the best fighter pilots in the galaxy. If that’s not enough to intimidate you then you’ve always got the creepy helmet and raspy aqualung breathing to keep you shaking in your boots. No, I don’t think that anyone liked to bring our Vader any bad news.

Battle Briefing or Behavior Analysis?

But even Darth Vader, Big D, that he may be, was not one dimensional in his behavior. Like all of us, he exhibited a range of behaviors that could have been charted on a DISC graph had the Empire had access to some quality DISC assessments. (Ever notice the resemblance between a DISC Wheel and an Imperial chart?)

So what would we find if we looked beyond Darth Vader’s D? Well without doubt a low I: When not leading a boarding party or giving orders he tended to stay in self-imposed isolation in his hyperbaric chamber. There is also that small incident of slaughtering an entire village of Sand People.

What about Vader’s C? He displayed many high C characteristics: he was a strict disciplinarian, demanded rigid adherence to the chain of command, and as the Emperor’s right hand man (even if that hand was artificial) was on a mission to preserve peace and order throughout the galaxy. On the other hand, Darth Vader was not shown to be a micro-manager as are many high C’s. He would set goals and timetables, and although he dealt really harshly with failure, he did give room for the admirals beneath him to take their own initiative and make their own mistakes. As a youth, while still known as Anakin, Darth bridled against the restrictions and discipline of the Jedi Council – something a high C wouldn’t do unless they had their own set of rules which they felt were superior. The times when Anakin breaks the rules he is reacting chaotically and emotionally, not methodically following an alternate rule set. Chances are the adult Darth Vader’s C would measure above the line, but not particularly high.

Finally, what about Vader’s S? There is some real tension here. Darth Vader exhibits some particularly High S tendencies – a reluctance to change or accept change, a tendency to suppress expression – suppress that is until it boils over in uncontrolled rage. He is generally unimpressed with new technology, trusting more in the old ways of the Force, “Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed….” Then there is also that “sad devotion to that ancient religion…” When the ways of the Dark Side of the force are questioned he lashes out and intones “I find your lack of faith disturbing.” Few things succeed at provoking a strong response from a High S like Darth quite like questioning his world view.

Some people might be confused by the High D also exhibiting a High S, but as discussed previously in our post on Me-Me conflicts, it is important to keep in mind that the opposite of a High D is a Low D, not a High S.

We hope you’ve enjoyed this installment in our ongoing World According to DISC series, and no matter what corner of the galaxy you’re exploring, may the Force (and the DISC) be with you.

Only 37% of Sales Professionals are Consistently Effective

Monday, September 19th, 2011

In a slide show recently published by the Harvard Business Review, researchers Lynette Ryals and Iain Davies present some fascinating and eye-opening findings regarding sales effectiveness. Their study based on observation of 800 sales professionals in actual live sales meetings led them to conclude that only 37% of sales professionals were consistently effective in achieving results.

Their findings categorized the study group into eight classifications of behavior patterns: Socializers, Aggressors, Narrators, Focusers, Storytellers, Consultants, Closers, Experts. According to the study only the last three, Experts, Closers and Consultants, were able to deliver consistent results. Together these three groups comprised just 37% of the sample.

Also of interest were some data points that debunked some “common knowledge” assumptions about what makes a good salesperson. Conventional wisdom and sales folklore point to the socializing sales professional and the hard-driving aggressor as the desirable sales personalities, yet in this study these two groups were the bottom performers. The aggressors could occasionally have a big win, but their performance on average was poor, while the socializers would get caught up in the small talk and not keep the sales pitch in focus.

The authors noted that “a disproportionate amount of training is allocated to presentation and rapport skills, as well as the actual sales pitch” and therefore these skills had become commodified across the field.

We, at Data Dome agree that much of the focus of sales training tends to overlook behavioral issues and instead focus on closing skills and process methodologies. However, as this Harvard study indicates, behaviors are more indicative of sales performance. Hiring salespeople is often an error prone process filled with subjective decisions that can bring disappointing results – just ask the sales managers who hired the Aggressors and Socializers in the study. This is one of the reasons why we encourage the use of behavioral and motivator focused tools to identify candidates with high sales potential. Objective assessments eliminate much of the guesswork whether they’re used as a selection aid during the hiring process or as a development aid to diagnose specific behavior and motivator weaknesses that may lower an individual’s sales success potential. These tools can also be valuable in recommending targeted training for awareness and improvement in these areas.

Ask the Expert: Lowering your S

Friday, September 2nd, 2011

A reader from the healthcare arena recently used our Ask the Expert form to ask:

** What does it mean if you have a Naturally high S, but your Adapted S is significantly lower? **

Art’s answer:

If you are seeing a DISC report with a Natural S that is high and an Adapted S that is much lower then you are actually seeing one of the most common behavioral adjustments in corporate America today. In the DISC spectrum the S reflects our preferences for different paces. When the S factor drops to a strong degree, it typically means the pace you’re encountering is greatly increased, that the variety of the work you are doing has increased (juggling lots of assignments at one time), or possibly your priorities are changing rapidly.

A person with a high Natural S likes to know what to expect – they are more comfortable knowing what’s going to happen well in advance. But if you are responding to the environment with a low Adapted S then it sounds like you might not be able to predict what you’ll be working on from one moment to the next, or have so many things on your plate, you may not be getting the closure you like. I often recommend those making this adjustment either get a bigger staff or do their best to prioritize their projects and takes some things off their plate. This isn’t always easy, particularly in today’s job climate where so many people are being asked to shoulder larger burdens and compensate for the missing productivity of people who have been let go, but not replaced, due to economic constraints. However, forcing someone to sustain an Adapted style that is drastically different from their Natural style can cause severe stress and loss of morale, especially if the person in question is pushed into this state frequently and for long periods of time. Frustration and resentment can increase in these situations.

It is also important to remember that the issue isn’t as much the direction of change, as it is the magnitude of change and the amount of time spent in the Adapted state. We often see executives with lower Natural S scores, who become frustrated and restless if they find themselves in a situation that causes them to have a higher Adapted S. Often an executive in this situation will make a move and quit the position as soon as they are able to because boredom is generally the least tolerable adapted state.

What’s your question?

Data Dome’s resident expert is our founder, Art Schoeck. A member of TTI’s prestigious International Faculty, Art often receives questions through our Ask the Expert form. We try to answer questions here on this blog that are representative of common questions regarding DISC and other assessment tools.

Do you have a question about DISC? If so please submit it via the Ask the Expert form. Although it may not be possible to answer every question individually, we use the “Ask the Expert” category of this blog to answer the DISC-related questions most important to our readers.

Good DISC vs Bad DISC

Tuesday, August 30th, 2011

In his upcoming book on DISC practice, The World According to DISC, Arthur G. Schoeck, founder and CEO of Data Dome, Inc., offers answers to the question, “Are all DISC tools created equal?”

All DISC behavioral assessments and related tools have their roots in the work of Dr. William Moulton Marston and therefore share a common foundation. Most DISC systems in use today are provided by a handful of companies, DISC publishers, whose businesses cultivate certified DISC experts who then resell the assessment tools to corporations for use in consultative work on various people problems faced by organizations. Despite the shared origin and similarities of business models it is an uneven field in regards to quality of assessments and reports as well as training and certification of practitioners. In short, although all DISC shares common roots and principles, no, not all DISC is created equal.

The Basics
To understand what makes some tools better than others, let’s review some basics. DISC is based on four behavioral factors: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. A person may score high or low in each of these four areas. The high scores tend to get the most attention, but good DISC practice recognizes that an intense low score is just as indicative of behavioral traits as is an equally intense high score.

Understanding Intensity and Precision
What DISC tools measure the intensity of each of the four behaviors and then correlate the results with a corresponding report. Some DISC systems provide for more gradations in the intensity in each category, some provide a larger number of report variations – and the range of this number of reports is surprisingly broad: some DISC publishers provide tools capable of generating as few as 12 reports, while one offers tools that match behaviors to hundreds of possible profile reports.

Even Great Tools Need Skillful Operators
People typically exhibit greater intensity in one of the four DISC areas, however it is a mistake to ignore the measures in the other three categories. It is also a mistake to oversimplify the process: Using a refined DISC system with hundreds of report variations still requires the facilitator to be skilled in properly debriefing and interviewing the participant to assure accuracy in the information provided. Even a good DISC system will yield mediocre results if the DISC practitioner is simply taking the report at face value without verifying accuracy with the participant.

Simplification and Vagueness
There are incentives for DISC publishers to pursue systems that involve a smaller number of different reports. Less variations to manage means training is easier, but simplification brings vagueness. Using a tool that can only categorize to a dozen or so reports encourages vagueness similar to a newspaper horoscope – it may provide answers that on the surface seem satisfactory, but in the end don’t hold up well in terms of providing practical, actionable insights.

Establishing Context for Better Results
DISC training to be effective must stress objectivity in its application. In many cases simply identifying the DISC profile of a given subject is not enough; measuring and understanding the behavioral context that predicts success for a given role or application is also needed. Too often a manager’s personal biases (or a consultant’s) will color the decision and favor either behavioral attributes which are similar to their own, or conform to some (false) idealized profile, which may have little to do with the actual behavioral patterns needed to succeed in a specific job.

Going Natural, or the Importance of Adapted Behavior
Natural behavior can be thought of as an individual’s default style, whereas Adapted behavior is the behavior they exhibit in response to the environment or workplace. Some DISC publishers offer reports that merge this information into a single approximate diagram. Others ignore the difference altogether and simply present a single graph, yet large shifts between a person’s Natural and Adapted behavior styles can indicate stresses, energy drain and anxiety caused by something in the work situation. Since the Natural style typically changes little over time and the Adapted style is very responsive to situational changes these are often important clues to diagnosing problems and recommending solutions. Bad DISC systems offer broad brush reports that appear less complex because merged data means fewer diagrams, but these fail to provide effective actionable data.

For the full Good DISC vs. Bad DISC article and a list of questions you should ask before selecting a DISC provider, visit

Sales and DISC Behavior – It’s Easy to Sell to People Like You

Tuesday, May 17th, 2011

(but not necessarily easy to manage them)

As discussed in our previous articles, “Sales Hiring Mistakes” and “Sales: What Makes a Great Salesperson (for You)?“, businesses that can sell well tend to do well – so it is not surprising that there is a lot of interest in making the sales process more predictable. Yet try as they might, salespeople and sales managers are often puzzled as to why some deals seem to go like clockwork while others feel like endless uphill struggles. They blame the market, they blame the people, they look to the 80/20 rule and see that 20% of the people bring in 80% of the profit, but can’t determine how to reliably duplicate the effective ones.

Communication is often the cause at the root of sales successes and failures. The fact is it is generally easier to sell to someone who shares the same communication preferences, that has a similar behavioral style, as you do. Comfortable communication is an important factor in establishing the trust and credibility needed to create a sale. By default we all tend to approach sales communication from the old golden rule “treat others as you would like to be treated,” however that old expression overlooks the idea that “others” may not want to be treated, in behavior or communication, in the way that makes you yourself feel the most comfortable.

DISC opens the door for us to understand that the behaviors or communication modes that feel natural to one person may cause stress to another. With this insight we can amend the golden rule to say “treat others as they wish to be treated” and use this idea to build a better foundation for sales success. Teaching salespeople to recognize their own behavioral styles and those of the clients they interact with gives them the opportunity to adapt to a mode of communication better suited to the client’s need. As the salesperson’s skill in recognizing and adapting to the styles of others increases so will their ability to build trust and credibility in relationships that were previously difficult and puzzling. Although the salesperson’s natural behavioral style will remain their same they will learn when and how to adapt for better results.

Recognizing that people have different natural behavioral styles also helps us understand a mistake that is unfortunately quite commonly made by businesses: they take their best performing salesperson and promote him or her to sales manager. Consider that the track record of the person in question indicates that the behaviors demanded to be a top sales performer are well-aligned with their natural behavioral style. Does a sales manager perform the same behaviors? What would indicate that the roles are interchangeable? As an analogy would a pro football team promote someone to quarterback because they were a great receiver? Not likely – the skills, the reflexes, the behaviors wouldn’t fit.

Let’s examine a scenario from a DISC perspective to further illustrate the point. At Company X the top performing sales people tend to be people skilled at keeping people happy and emotionally vested while driving for quick decisions and buy-in that keep the process moving forward rather than slipping into stasis. Meanwhile the successful sales manager at Company X must assert authority and accountability to the team, following a strictly defined process to assure fairness in hiring, firing, and compensation systems while also tracking the endlessly detailed expense reimbursement process. In the language of DISC that successful sales person is exhibiting high I (Influence) and high D (Dominance) behaviors while the sales manager’s role requires a low I and a high C (Compliance) – essentially opposite attributes. An individual might be able to adjust temporarily to fit the requirements, but quickly the stress and energy drain of maintaining that adjustment so strongly away from the individual’s natural behavioral preferences will cause the situation to either erode or explode. Reverting to natural behaviors the ex-salesperson now manager in question starts to try to make the salespeople she is responsible for as happy as she liked to make the customers she used to interact with, she grows restless handling the details and uncomfortable enforcing the policy and procedures because her C isn’t naturally high. Simply put, the former star receiver ends up being a lousy quarterback through no fault of her own.

At Data Dome we specialize in using the science of DISC behavioral analysis to unlock the keys to better performance, improved team dynamics and creating the best fits for your organization to thrive. Contact us to find out more about training and tools that can improve sales performance while helping you understand the success criteria for different roles in your organization.

Ask the Expert: Me-Me Conflicts?

Monday, February 28th, 2011

Art Schoeck was recently asked the following question via our Ask the Expert form:

** What do you mean by the Me-Me Conflict? Could you flesh that out a little? **

Art’s answer:

There are certain DISC behavioral styles that pose a “Me-Me” conflict, meaning there exists internal incompatibilities between behaviors. The Me-Me conflicts occur when an individual displays behaviors that are at odds with each other, that interfere with intended outcomes or reframe the behavioral dynamics due to the combination of conflicting behaviors.

To illustrate this idea let’s examine some scenarios:

An individual who wants to like people (DISC profile = high I) and looks at others with warmth and emotion, yet has high standards with which she judges things, data, and… people (DISC style = core C). So she wants to be liked and wants to like others, but she holds others to high standards, which may relegate her associates to those with high standards for instance she may date only those who pass her strict checklist of criteria. Here we see the Me-Me conflict in the competition of the core C behavior with the drive of the high I behavior. However, as in the dating example mentioned, the result might not be one behavior preventing the other, but both behaviors combining, hence the C-driven checklist criteria applied to the I-driven dating.

An individual may have a sense or urgency to get immediate results (DISC style = core D) while at the same time desire perfection (DISC profile = high C), which takes time to achieve. They constantly have internal conflict of rushing to complete, which can increase the likelihood of infractions or errors, vs slowing the pace down adequately to perform in an error-free compliant manner. The high D wants results and action now, which is in conflict with the high C behavior of making sure things are done in adherence to the standard of perfection.

One more example, although there are many more Me-Me conflict variations, can be seen with people who look at things, data, and products in an emotional way, yet look at people logically and analytically. The may buy things based on their emotions, yet look at others with skepticism and a “prove it to me” attitude. Changing situational dynamics can reframe the conflict.

Sometimes people are confused by the mention of Me-Me conflicts in part due to the explanation that accompanies the DISC Success Insights Wheel in some reports. The wheel will sometimes have the word “Cross” on it along with arrows pointing to spots on the wheel (see this post for a deeper look at the Success Insights Wheel) this can indicate the potential presence of a Me-Me conflict, because we are seeing three of the four DISC factors above the line with the individual’s core (or most prominent) DISC factor and the factor that is directly across from it on the wheel constituting two of those three factors that are above the line. The confusion can come from the use of the word “opposite” which in the Success Insights Wheel’s explanation is meant to refer to the style which is on the opposite side of the wheel, however this is not actually an opposite of the DISC style: D and S are across from each other on the wheel, as are I and C, but these are not opposite behaviors. The opposite behavior of a high D is not a high S, it is a low D. Likewise the opposite of a high I is a low I, etc. There can be some similarities between a low D and a high S but the behavioral basis is different.

What’s your question?

Data Dome’s resident expert is our founder, Art Schoeck. A member of TTI’s prestigious International Faculty, Art often receives questions through our Ask the Expert form. We try to answer questions here on this blog that are representative of common questions regarding DISC and other assessment tools.

Do you have a question about DISC? If so please submit it via the Ask the Expert form. Although it may not be possible to answer every question individually, we use the “Ask the Expert” category of this blog to answer the DISC-related questions most important to our readers.

World According to DISC – Thanksgiving Edition

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Thanksgiving is just around the corner and that means it is time for another episode of our continuing series – the World According to DISC. DISC profiles are an invaluable tool to help understand an individual’s behavior at work and at home, when relaxed and when stressed. Let’s meet one family and see how their behavioral styles influence their holiday celebration.

Don is a high D who works in sales. It’s been a slow year and the imminent arrival of Thanksgiving is a big reminder that most of the year is gone and time is running short if he is going to make his numbers for the year. He’s frustrated that so many people will be off of work, because every day between now and the end of the year counts so much toward hitting his targets. The one saving grace in his opinion is football. He’ll have a hard time keeping his seat at the dinner table because he’s focused on getting in a big dose of big screen football time. Since he can’t make any sales call on Thanksgiving Day anyway he’ll be diverting all his attention to cheering on his favorite teams.

Irene, Don’s wife, is a high I. She loves Thanksgiving mostly because it means the holiday party season has arrived and she loves to go to parties. She’s actually doing her best to try to turn the family Thanksgiving celebration into a party – she has invited just about every neighbor on her block to drop by and share dessert with them after the big turkey dinner. In fact, she’s starting to worry that she won’t have enough desserts and she’s rushing to the store to do a last minute shopping with her daughter, Sally in tow. Although Sally’s not enjoying the hectic scene at the supermarket, Irene is in her element – she’s run into several friend’s and is now happily chattering away with the cashier.

Daughter Sally is a high S and although she seems calm on the outside, she’s cringing on the inside at the turmoil in the supermarket. She didn’t really want to go, but her mom was in such a sudden panic about not having enough for dessert that she didn’t want to make a fuss. She’s looking forward to seeing her uncle and cousins who come to their house for Thanksgiving dinner every year. The lead-up and preparation is always a bit too hectic for her and her sister, Connie, is always snapping directions at her. Sally feels more comfortable after the big dinner when everything slows down. The football fans crowd into the den to cheer their favorite teams while Sally visits quietly with her cousins as they take their time clearing the table and putting away the leftovers.

Connie, is Sally’s older sister and has a high C disc profile. She has been snapping and fussing all day trying to put things in proper order for the big feast. She can’t understand why Sally takes so long to set the table when the process should be clear. She would do it herself, but she’s too busy because a few years ago she took over the cooking duties from her mother. Irene is a friendly person, but she can’t follow a recipe and Connie is now in charge of the Thanksgiving menu. She’s also planning on asking Don if she can carve the turkey this year – she thinks he makes a mess of it and she has been studying the proper procedure online for how to get the most meat off the bone in a neat and efficient manner. She’s set up a work area on the dining room sideboard with a platter and all the carving tools. She’s timed the turkey to be ready at 5pm exactly and she’s going to throw a fit if the bird is dry because Irene and Sally are late getting back from the supermarket.

Despite Connie’s worry, Irene and Sally manage to get back in plenty of time with a sackful of holiday cookies and an apple pie for the dessert crowd. Connie thinks that a homemade pie would be more appropriate, but agrees there wouldn’t be enough time to make one. She’s delighted that her dad has agreed to let her carve the turkey, and Don is delighted to have one less distraction from the day’s football watching. Sally finishes setting the table with the help of her cousins. As they quietly put out the fine linen napkins they save for special occasions and her mother’s good china, Sally takes comfort in the familiar objects and relishes the calm moment before the chaos of a crowded table. Irene forgets all her anxiety about being unprepared as she happily gets caught up on all the family gossip with her brother, who arrived while they were at the store.

Looks like it’s going to be a pleasant Thanksgiving after all. We at Data Dome hope you enjoy the lighthearted looks at prototypical DISC behavioral profiles that we feature in the World According to DISC series, and we wish you and your family a very happy holiday season!

Data Dome Quick Tip: DISC or Motivator?

Saturday, October 30th, 2010

Understanding people is a subtle science. Even with great tools like DISC Profiles and Workplace Motivators at our disposal it is not uncommon for there to be confusion about what is a behavioral style versus what is driven by a motivator. Sometimes the symptoms can be very similar.

Let’s look at an example – Charlie and Margaret:

Both Charlie and Margaret appear to be fastidious about how they have arranged their offices – do they share the same DISC profile behavior? If something is moved out of place in either environment, it isn’t long before it is quickly put back exactly where it came from – are they operating with the same workplace motivator? Let’s examine further and see if we can find out: One day Charlie visits Margaret’s office. When he comes to the door she drops everything she’s currently doing to give him a friendly handshake, asks him to make himself comfortable and asks him about several people she knows from the floor where Charlie works. Despite Margaret’s friendly banter Charlie feels compelled to say to Margaret that she should move her desk so that her seat faces the door as it is proper procedure to first acknowledge a visitor at the door, then signal the person to enter and finally indicate which seat the visitor should take. Margaret takes the comment in stride and remarks how nice it was for him to stop by while he was on her floor.

On another day Margaret stops by Charlie’s office and finds him on the phone. He seems to be ignoring her until she knocks lightly on the open door. He then looks up, signals that he will be a moment, finishes his call, then asks her what business has brought her to his office today. Rather than focusing on his question she says that she thinks he should also rearrange his seating – his office has a beautiful view, but the way his desk is arranged his back is to the window and he can’t enjoy the vista.

What’s going on here? Because of the similar outcome regarding how carefully the offices are maintained, one might assume that both Charlie and Margaret share the same DISC style and the same motivator, but this is not the case. Charlie’s formality with his coworker is a clue that his DISC profile is that of a High C, he follows rules and procedures with rigidity and sees alternate arrangements of the office as breaking with decorum. Margaret, on the other hand, is a High I – her greeting is friendly, her conversational focus is on people and she is willing to drop everything she is doing to welcome Charlie when he arrives. Her reason for being fastidious about her office decor comes from responding to her dominant motivator, a High Aesthetic. She’s meticulously arranged her office in the way that most satisfies her artistic sensibility and responds to other environments accordingly. By contrast Charlie’s Aesthetic score is quite low, he has completely ignored the beautiful view in planning his office arrangement.

In this example opposing behavioral styles and motivations led to a similar expression. This is why gaining insights into both DISC behavior and Workplace Motivators is so valuable in bringing a greater clarity to interpersonal dynamics in the workplace. Often sources of friction and other detriments to productivity can be difficult to diagnose without looking at both behavior and motivations.

DISC Profiles and Stress: The Energy Crisis

Friday, October 15th, 2010

It was a little over a year ago that we discussed five ways leaders who understood DISC profiles could reduce stress amongst their employees. For many companies the climate is even more stress-inducing today: cutbacks have forced companies to ask for even higher levels of productivity from the employees that remain, workers are being asked to take on responsibilities of those who are no longer there – constantly adapting from their natural DISC behavioral style.

Occasionally stepping away from one’s natural DISC behavioral style is usually not a big deal, in fact it is commonplace to see some variance between a person’s natural and adapted DISC profiles. Taking on a new behavior once in a while might actually be a deliberate strategy or a welcome change of pace, but long-term sustained adaptions that push an individual away from their natural DISC style can be trouble.

Maintaining an exaggerated state of adapted behavior takes energy – the person is essentially stepping on the mental gas to keep themselves in a behavioral pattern that doesn’t come naturally. This constant depletion of energy can express itself in numerous ways: irritability, poor morale, aggressiveness, “shutting down”, even physical manifestations – headaches, susceptibility to illness, etc. Unfortunately even with these changes of mood and morale it can still be difficult for an untrained observer to pinpoint causes in manner that provides information for mitigating the stressed behaviors. In the case of high S’s this can be further exacerbated by their reluctance to make waves. The stresses can build and build if the high S provides them no outlet – the situation becomes a powder keg of pent up frustration waiting to explode.

DISC profiles are a great way to see beyond the surface and recognize when there are large gaps between adapted and natural DISC styles. The greater the gap the more energy the individual is expending to reach the adapted behavior. If all four DISC behavior categories are adapting above the line then the person may be feeling forced to be “all things to everybody” – a constant state of crisis. Understanding the DISC profiles gives you a tool to diagnose the situation and take steps tailored to the individual’s causes of stress as indicated by their behavioral profile.

For a quick understanding of what stresses out people with certain DISC profiles check out our previous observations in The World According to DISC: Stress Someone Out in Style and The World According to DISC: The Low Side of Stress Styles.

Complaining about DISC Profiles

Friday, October 8th, 2010

In a recent episode of Boaz Power TV recorded in Washington DC, Boaz Rauchwerger tells a story of a young Abraham Lincoln and how his harsh criticism of a local city official led to that official challenging Lincoln to a duel. Although the duel was averted at the last moment, Boaz uses the anecdote as an illustration of the downside and risk of criticizing and complaining and asks viewers to pledge to completely abstain from criticizing or complaining for an entire week.

But is criticizing always bad? Are there no situations where complaining might be useful?

Let’s take a quick look at the classic DISC behavioral styles and see if the “3 C’s Affirmation: I do not criticize, condemn, or complain. I look for the good.” is really a good or realistic idea for everybody to try to follow.

First let’s look at the high D DISC profile: Regardless of whether avoiding complaining is a good idea, the high D individual is very unlikely to stick to the pledge. He or She might say the words, but as soon as a situation is encountered that calls for corrective action (or at least appears to from the high D’s perspective) an on-the-spot critique is going to occur. The high D DISC profile rankles at things that put objectives at risk and he or she won’t brood about it – the complaint will be gotten off the chest right away and the criticism will be repeated unless or until adjustments to the situation are made.

The high I DISC profile is a completely different story. The behavioral bias of a high I DISC profile makes him or her very likely to embrace this pledge. It’s feel-good message aligns well with the high I’s habits of trying to please people and be thought of positively by those around him or her. However, the high I might actually be avoiding or procrastinating about delivering a needed complaint or critique out of a behavioral tendency to try to be too nice. For example a high I manager might not give a needed critique to an employee to avoid being perceived as a “bad guy”, but as a result a minor problem is overlooked when it may have been easily corrected and now it may fester into a larger issue because it wasn’t “nipped in the bud”.

High S individuals are very reluctant to buck the status quo. In an effort to avoid making waves he or she may bottle up complaints and critiques that are quite legitimate – they don’t need to take the pledge, they already have a natural tendency to avoid complaining, but by holding criticism inside they may be needlessly suffering abuse, or struggling with correctable situations. Their assumption is that time will smooth out the wrinkles and most problems will sort themselves out, however, this is not always the case. The person with a high S DISC profile should in fact be encouraged to critique and complain to make sure that a storm of trouble and resentment isn’t brewing beneath the laid-back surface.

Finally we come to the high C DISC profile, probably the best candidate for Boaz’s advice. High C’s are process and compliance oriented and have a habit of criticizing things and people that disrupt policy and procedure. An extreme high C is often perceived as being harsh because of a natural intolerance for anything that falls short of exacting standards. If the high C embraces the 3 C’s affirmation it may lead to more harmonious communication for him or her and those with whom he or she works. Unlike the high D, the high C may embrace the pledge if convinced, by hard data, of the value of adopting it as a policy or code of conduct against which compliance can be measured.

As you can see, different people’s DISC profiles indicate a diversity of behavioral tendencies. It is rare to find one-size-fits-all advice that actually makes sense across the full spectrum of DISC behavioral styles.

Not that I’m complaining… 😉

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