Untangle The Mystery Of Other People's Behaviour Using The DISC Personality Test

By Judy Sullivan

As a tool for understanding ourselves and others, the DISC personality test is widely regarded as one of the most useful available. It is based upon the theories of William Moulton Marston and reveals the basic characteristics that shape our thinking and behaviour. By using the test, we can learn a tremendous amount about ourselves and the people we associate with, and greatly improve our career and home lives.

According to DISC theory, we each exhibit one of four main personal styles. They are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness. Every individual is a combination of the four types, but most of us will have a dominant one. This is augmented by a secondary style, a third style and an inferior style. Some people can have an absent style. Below is a brief outline of each style.

Someone with a Dominant style will be one of life's competitors. These folks are bold action-takers who thrive on challenge. They may be regarded as blunt, forceful, decisive, demanding and with a strong personality. However, their lack of tact can alienate others, and this can work against them. The key to getting along with a D-type is to be clear and to-the-point, stand your ground, and don't test their patience.

Influence style folks are enthusiastic doers who value social recognition and collaboration. They are often described as charismatic, warm, optimistic and fun to be around. Although often highly competent, they can be disorganised and can have trouble following through once their initial enthusiasm has waned. To get along with an 'I', be positive, a team player and don't overwhelm them with too many details.

Those of the Steadiness style are good-natured co-operators who seek harmony with others. They favor a stable environment where they help others and feel appreciated. On the negative side, they can be indecisive and over-accommodating, and can resist change. To get on with an S-type, be co-operative, amiable, avoid displays of aggression and show appreciation.

Conscientiousness style people tend to be analytical, independent thinkers who prize accuracy and competence. They are also careful, cautious, detail-orientated, diplomatic and tactful. On the downside, they can be over-analytical and over-critical. To get along with a C-type, focus on facts and details, minimise emotional language, and be patient and diplomatic.

It's clear that each style is very distinct, and these differences reveal why there is so much conflict and misunderstanding in everyday life. These inter-personal challenges are made less problematic when one has a deeper understanding of others, and oneself. Knowledge of DISC can make communication with other people, and getting along with them, vastly easier. It also reveals why people can behave the way they do, and thus make their behaviours much less puzzling.

For those with managerial jobs, the DISC personality test can make organizing personnel effectively much easier. People can be matched with tasks or jobs that suit their style, and lead to much better morale and output. At a purely social level, having insight into the four styles can make social and family life much easier and more rewarding.

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