Monday, 13 July 2015 04:33

Unlocking the power of self-awareness and using the keys to engage effectively with others

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People with different personalities can be effectively motivated to build better relationships and organizations

Do you agree that women are different than men? It is often said that  the differences between men and women are so acute that women must come from a different planet than men!  While most of us can agree with the stark differences between men and women, the differences don’t stop there! If you have a family like mine, not only are the parents different, but the children they raise have different personalities. They were all raised under the same roof and had similar environments and culture, yet they become their own unique personality as adults. When we observe the workplace, the differences are even greater. 

You have three choices about engaging with people and their differences . The first choice is to not engage: go work with computers or machinery because they are more predictable.  The second choice is to ignore the differences and blindly try to influence others by assuming everyone thinks and acts like you. The third and best choice is to become aware of personality types, including yourself, and what motivates each personality so that you can effectively engage with them and enjoy the differences. 

If you have made the choice to engage, you may wonder why people respond to you in unexpected ways. Some respond apathetically or angrily when you expected a positive response.  You may have noticed that certain tasks or relationships come so naturally to you while others find it to be absolutely daunting! If you are a leader, you may have been frustrated with the people you engage in your work because of their differences in priorities. If you want to build more effective and meaningful relationships in the workplace but find it rather difficult to achieve, the DiSC model can help.

What is DiSC?

DiSC (an acronym that represents four distinct behavioral styles: Dominance, influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) is a powerful development framework that simplifies the complex act of helping people gain better understating of the ‘WHY’ behind behavior. For over three decades, the DiSC model has proven successful in helping individual professionals better understand how their behavioral styles are influenced by their needs, perceptions, and assumptions. These styles, in turn, affect their success at work, life and relationships with themselves and others.

Being able to make sense of self and others within this behavioral model enables individuals to take advantage of their strengths, mitigate their personal limitations for maximum effectiveness and create a platform for others to do the same. By applying this model, you can engage with empathy with both friends and co-workers. This can be priceless. It is also immeasurably helpful in designing personal development, team dynamics, and leadership insight for work and family relationships.

The DiSC Model Explained

The DiSC theory is based on two very powerful concepts: perceptions and assumptions. The the original theory was developed by William Marston. It was further developed into an assessment tool by Walter Clarke and then improved upon by Inscape Publishing. This theory states that an individual’s behavior depends chiefly on two factors: 

(1) what he assumes is his level of power or ability to influence the environment and 2) on how favorable he perceives the environment to be. It theorizes that regarding the first factor, an individual feels either more powerful than the environment or less powerful. The second factor, the individual believes the environment to be favorable or unfavorable. This predisposition towards the environment influences the individual’s behavior uniquely in any situation. 

It is important to note at this point that people’s assumed level of influence on an environment and their degree of comfort may vary from place to place. However, the core of their assumption and perception does not dramatically change. This is why a better understanding of how these two factors are weaved into an individual’s programming makeup creates better understanding of the person’s  needs and priorities.  Knowing about the person’s perception of these two factors help predict what the behavioral style, pattern and preferences will be for the individual you are focused on engaging. 

Refer to the table below for help in understanding the DiSC theory.


Perceives the Environment be Unfavorable

Perceives the Environment to be Favorable

More Powerful than the Environment



Less Powerful than the Environment




 It is important to know that each of the different combinations has different characteristics and elements that are peculiar to it. Everyone has a combination of the different elements in each of the DiSC quadrants with one or two of them being a bit more dominant than the others. The quadrant that the elements or characteristics are found to be mostly dominant in a person is called the person’s primary DiSC or behavioural style while the next most dominant is the secondary style.

Explaining the different DiSC styles

The table above explains the four combinations of people’s assumptions and perceptions with regards to the environment:

  1. A person could assume to be more powerful than the environment and perceive the environment to be favorable to him. People with this disposition are represented at the top right corner of the quadrant with the letter ‘I’ (Influence). This predisposition has different common attributes and behavioral traits which will be discussed in detail later on. The most predominant characteristics is their preference to influence others. 

  2. A person could also assume to be more powerful than the environment but unlike the first person, perceive the environment to be unfavorable to him. People with this disposition are represented at the top left corner of the quadrant with the letter ‘D’ (Dominance). This predisposition also has different common attributes and behavioral traits. The predominant characteristics is their preference to take charge of situations and dominate.

  3. A person could assume to be less powerful than the environment and perceive the environment to be favorable to him. People with this disposition are represented at the lower right corner of the quadrant with the letter ‘S’ (Steadiness). This predisposition towards the environment has different common characteristics and behavioral traits.  One of the most predominant characteristics is their priority to maintain steadiness and stability.

  4. Finally, a person could assume that he is less powerful than the environment and that the environment is unfavorable to him. People with this disposition towards the environment are represented on the lower left corner of the quadrant with the letter ‘C’ (Conscientiousness). Like the other three above, this predisposition towards the environment has different common characteristics and behavioral traits. The most predominant of them is their priority to be thorough and detailed oriented. 

Each of the above will be discussed in more detail with a dedicated article for each of the four styles. Where an individual has a high preference or priority they have also developed the capability to ensure their preference is attained.

Comparing DiSC with other models

The Introversion/Extroversion model: This looks at how freely and confidently an individual acts in an environment. Extroverts according to this theory engage freely and confidently with people and the environment. This characteristic is very similar with the DiSC styles of individuals that assume they are more powerful than the environment. These will be ‘D’ and ‘i’ styles.

Introverts according to this model are generally shy and withdrawn. They are less likely to engage freely or risk failure. These traits are very consistent with the DiSC styles of individuals that hold the ‘less powerful than the environment assumption’. These will be true about the ‘S’ and ‘C’ behavioural styles.

There are many other personality models available that are also helpful. For example, Tim LaHaye’s personality types (Melancholy, Phlegmatic, Choleric, and Sanguine). Another well-known model is the MBTI framework. These models have different ways of describing behaviours to better understand why people are so different. All of these models demonstrate that each person have notable strengths and indicate the possibility of over-using them. So why choose the DiSC model to understand your family members or co-workers?

STRONG ADVICE believes DiSC is the best tool available that has robust validation of the psychometrics associated with the profile questionnaire. The positive reaction of those who receive their DiSC profile from STRONG ADVICE exceeds expectations. More than 90% say that there DiSC profile is more than 80% accurate in terms of describing who they are and how they can improve. The DiSC model emphasizes that these styles are personal preferences and not absolutes. With additional knowledge, self-awareness and training, these behaviors can be modified to enable better performance at home and at work and increase fulfilment for the individual or the leader of an organization. In addition, Wiley Publishing has now further developed the DiSC assessment to make it even more valuable for various applications: personal effectiveness, profiles for leaders, managers and teams. 

Join us in upcoming articles to discover how to identify people’s priorities and needs based on their behavioral styles. The articles will explain how to motivate, encourage and manage such individuals to help them leverage their strengths and mitigate their weaknesses. We invite you to bookmark this page for future reference and share this link with your friends.

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