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September 13, 2023

Understanding DISC: A Historical Perspective and Its Diverse Applications


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The DISC behavioural characteristic model, which is a powerful tool for understanding human behaviour and communication, dates back to the early twentieth century. DISC, developed by psychologist William Marston, has evolved through time to become a widely utilized assessment instrument in a wide range of vocations. So, let’s explore at the history of DISC, its key concepts, and its varied applications spanning from recruitment and personal development to team building and leadership training.

The Historical Roots of DISC

The DISC model was first published in 1928 by renowned psychologist William Marston. Understanding human behaviour and emotions was the main focus of his studies. He believed that there are four fundamental behavioural features that can be used to categorize human behaviour. Hence, he initially named these traits Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C).

Marston’s concept provided the DISC model with its theoretical foundation, and he published his findings in his book “Emotions of Normal People” in 1928. The first self-evaluation based on the DISC theory was developed in 1956 by industrial psychologist Walter Clarke.

Eventually, the DISC model evolved into its more familiar version, with the labels changing to Dominance, Influence, Stability, and Conscientiousness, which better matched the key qualities of each behavioural style.

DISC is still a highly recognized and significant behavioural evaluation measure that is utilised in a variety of settings today.

The Four DISC Behavioural Types

These are the categorisation of behavioural types:

Dominance (D): These are people with dominant behavioural characteristics. They are direct, assertive, and decisive. They take the initiative, enjoy challenges, and are results-oriented. D-type people are natural leaders who are focused on producing practical results. They are Progressive.

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Influence (I): People in this category are gregarious, passionate, and friendly. Through their charismatic and upbeat style, they thrive at networking, relationship-building, and encouraging others. We called them People persons. 

Steadiness (S): This group of people are patient, compassionate, and dependable. They prefer a harmonious work environment and excel in tasks that need support, teamwork, and a calming presence. This group don’t like surprises but relish routine. They are Predictable.

Conscientiousness (C): People who are conscientious are analytical, detail-oriented, and systematic. They aim for precision, are process-oriented, and excel in jobs that require precision, critical thinking, and attention to detail. They are Precise.

How does each behaviour profile react to traffic congestion?
How does each behaviour profile react to traffic congestion?

Common questions about DISC

Is DISC a personality test?

No. DISC solely evaluates behaviour and results. Behavior is only the surface level of personality. By comparison, personality involves values, learning potential, emotional intelligence, self-concept, and hobbies. These cannot be seen.

Does my behaviour change over time?

It is unlikely that behaviour will alter significantly. Significant life events, such as divorce or a death in the family, might temporarily affect a person’s style. The DISC profile eventually reverts to the original DISC look. It is their natural trait.

How does each behaviour profile behaves during a holiday?
How does each behaviour profile behave during a holiday?

Humans are complex. How do you fit behaviour into a simple quadrant?

For sure, human behavioural types are more complex than a simple quadrant. Everyone is a blend of 4 behavioural traits. Most people have 2 dominant and 2 weaker behavioural traits. Some are Progressive and People-oriented. Others are Predictable and Precise. Think of DISC in continuous terms – not as 4 separate quadrants but with each quadrant blending into the neighbouring quadrant.

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What will each behaviour profile do upon their return from a holiday?
What will each behaviour profile do upon their return from a holiday?

But more importantly, the model helps you make sense of your own behaviour and that of others.

Applications of DISC in Different Use Cases

DISC evaluations are often used for personal and professional development and self-awareness. Individuals acquire insights into their own strengths, places for progress, and communication preferences by understanding their own behavioural patterns. As a result, this self-awareness can lead to better connections, better decision-making, and a more balanced life.

Leadership Development

DISC evaluations are an important tool in leadership development. Leaders can learn more about their leadership styles and how they affect their interactions with team members. That said, leaders who have this expertise can modify their communication strategies and create a more stimulating and productive work environment.

Team Building

DISC assessments are extremely useful for team building and enhancing team dynamics. Leaders can uncover possible team strengths and problems by assessing team members’ DISC types. Members of a team can modify their communication and cooperation methods, resulting in more effective teamwork and a stronger sense of togetherness.

Conflict Resolution

The DISC model can help individuals discover and respect variations in behavioural styles, which can aid in conflict resolution. Armed with this knowledge, opposing parties can establish common ground, communicate more effectively, and strive toward amicably resolving issues.

Sales & Customer Service

This behavioural traits model is commonly used in sales and customer service training to assist professionals in adapting their communication styles. This is to better connect with clients and consumers. Sales personnel can customise their sales pitches to potential consumers’ tastes, resulting in more effective sales methods.

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Hiring and Recruitment

We use DISC assessments in our hiring and recruitment processes. Every job has a technical requirement plus an (often) unspoken behavioural requirement. For instance, not all sales positions require outspoken extroverts. Some might require deep thinkers with the ability to meticulously analyse a customer’s requirements.

In recruitment, we use DISC to evaluate potential applicants’ soft skills, cultural fit and compatibility with existing teams. Employers can make better hiring judgments if they consider behavioural traits in addition to technical qualifications.

Conclusion

DISC evaluations provide useful insights into individual behavioural types, promoting more self-awareness, better communication, and improved team collaboration. Individuals and organisations can use this model to build more harmonious work environments, stimulate professional growth, and ultimately achieve higher levels of success in their undertakings. DISC’s versatility and practical applicability will surely assure its continuous relevance in understanding and enhancing human potential as the world evolves.

How does each behaviour profile handle working remotely?
How does each behaviour profile handle working remotely?

Reach out to us if you are interested in taking a DISC evaluation and finding out your natural behavioural traits.