If you have not done so already you can determine your DISC behavioral style by taking the DISC Self-Assessment.
The DISC system is a model of human behavior that can help you understand yourself and others in a specific environment or situation. The DISC system does not reveal your core personality type per se, as the other systems on this website do. It reveals how your personality is responding in a given situation or environment. While people can behave differently in varying situations and environments, it is fairly well-known that people tend to have a preferred, natural behavioral style. The DISC system not only helps you identify your preferred behavioral style and traits but it can also help you improve your self-management and interpersonal relationships (among other things) across the four primary DISC dimensions: Dominance (D), Influence (I), Steadiness (S), and Conscientiousness (C).
The DISC system, along with the Jungian-Keirsey system, is one of the oldest, most widely used, most validated, and reliable systems of human behavior. It is also one of the simplest to learn because there are only 4 primary dimensions that everyone can readily relate to. While you can’t change your personality, you can choose to change the way your respond to your environment and any situation you find yourself in. That difference makes the DISC system an extremely popular and practical tool, as will be seen in the next section.
As with the other powerful systems on this website the DISC system can be especially useful for increasing fulfillment and satisfaction in many important areas of life. This system is a favorite of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, sales firms, clergy, educational institutions, human resources professionals, consultants, coaches and trainers. Here are some of the DISC’s practical applications:
Clicking on any of the active links below will give you a more full description of that DISC dimension, which will open in a new window. Be sure to read the brief descriptions of the 16 DISC behavioral styles below for even more insight into yourself and others.
(+) Positively, people high in Dominance – often called Drivers, Directors or Powerful Cholerics – know what they want out of life and go after it! They are masters at visualizing, planning and achieving goals with intense drive. No goal is too big or outrageous for these strong-willed, hard-working, persistent people. They are enterprising, ambitious, independent-minded and decisive. They like winning, and no other style pushes themselves as hard as Drivers do. They often make natural leaders because they have an inner desire to be in charge and are extremely results-oriented. These are the movers and shakers of the world, the make-it-happen kind of people who let nothing stand in their way of accomplishing their goals.
(–) Negatively, Powerful Cholerics can be: pushy, bossy, impatient, domineering, autocratic, controlling, demanding, argumentative, short-tempered, prone to make rash decisions, abrasive, tactless, impersonal, insensitive, unsympathetic, unaffectionate, blunt, cold, unsympathetic, intolerant, headstrong, stubborn, egotistical, pretentious, sly/crafty, manipulative, know-it-alls, and/or workaholic.
(+) Positively, people high in Influence – often called, Expressives, Socializers or Popular Sanguines – know how to enjoy life and have fun. They have “the gift of gab” and can talk to anyone about anything at any time at any place with or without knowledge of what they are talking about! Socializers are optimistic, lively, animated, spontaneous and love to laugh. They exude charm and charisma and are easily able to persuade, excite, motivate and inspire others. Expressives, the most sociable and outgoing of the 4 primary behavioral styles, often have a large circle of friends and acquaintances because they relate so easily and effortlessly to people. They love being where the action is and working with other people.
(–) Negatively, Popular Sanguines can be: disorganized, undisciplined, impulsive, scatterbrained, not serious about anything, unwilling to pay attention to details, flamboyant and showy, overly talkative, exaggerative, unpredictable, inconsistent, late (not punctual), loud, messy/sloppy, changeable/erratic, too gullible and naďve, permissive, vulgar, crude and/or brassy.
(+) Positively, people high in Steadiness – often called, Amiables, Relaters or Peaceful Phlegmatics – have a calm, laid-back disposition and know how to keep the peace and relax. They generally get along with most everyone because they accept people as they are, they’re good listeners and they have a friendly, modest, pleasing personality. Amiables are the most tolerant, easygoing and patient of all the primary behavioral styles. They make great team players because they are cooperative, agreeable, empathetic people who don’t seek the spotlight. They are good at seeing value in other people’s opinions and contributions and are ever willing to lend a helping hand. They are dependable, consistent people who like a peaceful, predictable, stable life. Relaters have deep feelings but, due to their reserve and even-keeled temperament, generally don’t show them.
(–) Negatively, Peaceful Phlegmatics can be: indecisive, conflict-avoidant, dependent, acquiescing, timid, slow, sluggish, boring, aimless (lacking in direction, focus, goals and noteworthy accomplishments), indifferent and unenthusiastic, overly accommodating and obliging, self-doubting, insecure, unconfident, easily taken advantage of, overly passive (or passive-aggressive at times), stubborn as a mule, and/or fearful of change.
(+) Positively, people high in Conscientiousness – often called, Analyticals, Thinkers or Perfect Melancholies – know how to be meticulous and accurate in everything they do. No other style is as well-organized, systematic, painstaking and thorough as Analyticals. These serious thinkers have very high standards for themselves, take pride in their work and like to take their time to get every detail of a job right. They are the most cerebrally oriented of the four styles and are known for being deep, contemplative, introspective thinkers. Analyticals never take anything at face value and are always analyzing everything, constantly looking beneath the surface of life for the hidden truths. They are disciplined by nature and able to set and attain their long-range goals by diligently following their carefully planned, step-by-step process. Analyticals are sensitive, idealistic people who enjoy peace and quiet as well as soul-stirring music, poetry and art.
(–) Negatively, Perfect Melancholies can be: perfectionistic, critical, negative, fastidious, pessimistic, easily depressed, picky, too hard on themselves and others, too idealistic (and, thus, hard to please), overly serious, bogged down by details, worrisome, withdrawn, sulky, moody, lonely, reticent, impersonal, socially awkward/self-conscious, painstakingly slow, easily flustered when things don’t go the way they planned, skeptical, and prone to “analysis paralysis.”
Clicking on any of the active links below (the names, like, The Opportunist) will give you a more full description of that behavioral style, which will open in a new window. The 2 letters in parentheses to the right of each name (except for the Opportunist, Socializer, Supporter and Analyzer) tell which of the 4 behavioral dimensions are primary and secondary. For example, the Mobilizer primarily uses the Dominance (D) style and secondarily uses the Influence style (I). That is why the 2 letters to the right of The Mobilizer are (DI). By contrast, the Persuader uses the Influence (I) style primarily and the Dominance (D) style secondarily. That is why the 2 letters to the right of The Persuader are (ID). If you have taken the DISC self-assessment and know your category score but not your DISC behavioral style, click this link to find out your DISC behavioral style.
(+) This person is called the Opportunist because no other behavioral style is quite so capable of capitalizing on new opportunities or taking advantage of favorable conditions. Opportunists project a strong sense of personal power and tend to be direct, poised and convincing. They are independent, innovative, and don’t let anyone or anything stand in their way once they’ve set their mind on a goal. They’re risk-taking, entrepreneurial types who follow their own ideas and interests. They are individualistic, outspoken, self-reliant and willing to buck the system. They are masters at finding ingenious solutions to problems. Many CEOs and entrepreneurs have this behavioral style.
(–) Negatively, Opportunists can be opportunistic, in the negative sense of the word. That means they can exploit opportunities and situations in a devious, unscrupulous, or unprincipled way. They can be overly forceful, competitive and controlling. They are prone to using and manipulating people and resources to accomplish their own goals. Being so focused on achieving results, they can become dictatorial, critical, uncaring and lacking in empathy. Opportunists can also be egotistical and do things purely for their own benefit.
(+) This person is called the Mobilizer because no other behavioral style is as capable of organizing people or resources in order to take action, although some Mobilizers have more of a “if you want a job done right you’ve got to do it yourself” mentality. All Mobilizers are tenacious, direct, confident and outspoken in their approach but some (those higher in Steadiness, S) are able to work with people better than others. Mobilizers live life in the fast lane and are driven to achieve results, quickly. They enjoy pushing the envelope and work well under pressure. They thrive on difficult tasks and competition. They value independence, control over their environment, and tangible results, above all else.
(–) Negatively, Mobilizers like having status and being seen as important or in positions of authority. They can appear arrogant and cocky and look down on “soft” and “weak” people. Some Mobilizers are domineering, forceful, blunt and uncaring and have difficulty getting along with people. Mobilizers are so quick-thinking, fast-acting and result-oriented that some can be impatient, critical and fault-finding with those who aren’t. Mobilizers would do well to listen better to others, pay more attention to other’s feelings, and learn to relax more and slow down.
(+) This person is called the Producer because no other behavioral style is as capable of producing concrete results year after year as the Producer. Producers put a lot of emphasis on completing tasks from start to finish and on schedule. Like all the other Ds (Opportunists, Mobilizers and Pioneers), Producers are determined, tenacious, ambitious, industrious, independent, action-oriented, etc. but Producers are also friendly, considerate and like to be helpful and supportive of others as well. They can either be assertive or cooperative, depending on their mood and the situation. They generally work well with people (most of the time) and want to benefit others. A balance of independent work and collaborative efforts seems to work best for them overall.
(–) Negatively, Producers have high personal performance standards that can cause them to be self-critical and feel guilty when things don’t run perfectly. They can also fear letting others down. They like to do things themselves and have a hard time delegating or asking for help, even when it’s needed. They can get so focused on projects they’re involved in that they lose a sense of balance and can become workaholics. Producers can show empathy towards others but are very reluctant to reveal their own real feelings with other people. They can benefit by asking for help when it’s needed and being more genuinely open with their true feelings.
(+) This person is called the Pioneer because no other behavioral style wants to change the way things are done more than the future-oriented Pioneer, except for possibly the Innovator. Pioneers, and Innovators, like to challenge the status-quo and strive to accomplish something unusual, even visionary. Their thinking is innovative and both styles like to do things in their own unique way. Both are energized by originality, creativity and discovery. What distinguishes Pioneers from Innovators is that Pioneers have a greater impulse to take risks and test their ideas out in the real world before they have ironed out all the kinks of how they will actually work. Pioneers want to see immediate tangible results from their original thinking and tend to take more decisive action to get things going. Understand that Pioneers are contemplative, deep thinkers, but even more than that they are ambitious, action-oriented doers. Their innate assertiveness is tempered by a degree of sensitivity. Their quick-thinking, impatient mind is counterbalanced by their simultaneous desire to think things through to some degree before taking action. Once they’ve formulated an idea, however, action is taken quickly and decisively. Like Innovators, they put a lot of thought into solving future problems and have a gift for foresight. Many entrepreneurs have this behavioral style.
(–) Negatively, Pioneers can have too high expectations of themselves and end up being disappointed with themselves when their ideas don’t work out. Pioneers have a tendency to be too restless and impulsive. They constantly have too many irons in the fire at one time. This can cause them to pursue one idea after another or multiple ideas at once without first following one all the way to completion. To compound these problems, some Pioneers can be aloof and tactless because they lack the more people-focused, relationship-oriented influences of I (Influence) and S (Steadiness). When in an intimate relationship, Pioneers would benefit from communicating their innermost thoughts and feelings more often, which doesn’t come easily to them. They would also benefit from some structured routine that would help ground their restlessness, impatience and impulsiveness.
(+) This person is called the Socializer because no other behavioral style is as sociable, outgoing and gregarious as the Socializer. Socializers develop friendships easily because they are adept at communicating with all kinds of people and possess oodles of charm, warmth and optimism. They are also generous with their praise and appreciation of others. Socializers are just fun to be around because they are so light-hearted, spontaneous, uninhibited, childlike and expressive. Socializers are usually quite popular because they’re charismatic storytellers and quick-witted jokesters. They love to laugh and can be the real “life-of-the-party” type. Socializers value knowing people from all walks of life and have an extensive network of contacts and friends. Socializers are excellent at promoting ideas as well as motivating and inspiring people to action with their boundless enthusiasm and excitement. They are also great at relieving tension in stress-filled situations because of their ability to bring humor and harmony to any circumstance. The Socializer is one of the most common behavioral styles.
(–) Negatively, Socializers are prone to start many activities but finish few. They can easily lose track of time when they get absorbed in a conversation with someone. Planning, time-management, discipline, organization and task follow-through are not the Socializer’s strong points. Socializers are easily bored by dull routines. They like excitement and variety so doing mundane jobs and detail work is challenging for them. Socializers crave social recognition and can be too approval seeking and vain. They fear loss of social acceptance. Socializers can easily overcommit themselves by promising to do things that they don’t realistically have time to do, especially given their poor time-management skills. Socializers are emotionally excitable people and can be overly reactive at times. They have a tendency to get involved too quickly with people in relationships but then regret getting entangled and have to backpedal their way out.
(+) This person is called the Persuader because no other behavioral style is as motivating, inspiring, well-spoken and persuasive as the Persuader. Many charismatic Persuaders are spokespeople, salespeople, negotiators, leaders or politicians. Like Socializers, Persuaders have excellent people skills and an extensive network of contacts and friends, but Persuaders also have tremendous drive, focus and ambition to make things happen with and through people. They are masters at rallying people together for a cause or movement and have the ability to speak to the needs of different people. Prestige, status and influence are important to most Persuaders. Persuaders know how to arouse people’s emotions and appeal to their ideals, hopes and dreams. They have the ability to sell themselves and their ideas and bring people to their point of view. This is why they make such great salespeople, leaders and politicians. Persuaders don’t like routine or regimentation anymore than the other “I” styles (Socializers, Coaches and Strategists) so working with people in a variety of settings that require mobility is ideal for them. The Persuader is one of the most common behavioral styles.
(–) Negatively, Persuaders have a tremendous need to been seen as successful, to look good, and be liked. They are very susceptible to negativity directed towards them as they crave positive social recognition. Some Persuaders may acquire status symbols to try to prove their self-worth. Persuaders like to look at the big picture and are prone to overlook in-depth analyses and details in their great eagerness to make progress and keep moving from one new opportunity to another. As a result, they may not fully realize what is involved in executing a detailed, complex undertaking. Persuaders, like other “I” styles, can be too impulsive, poor time managers, lack follow-through, and be overly optimistic about the potential of a project or cause they are involved in. Under pressure, Persuaders can become soft or evasive.
(+) This person is called the Coach because no other behavioral style is quite as concerned about helping others grow and reach their full potential as the Coach. Because of the strong influence from Steadiness (S) in this combination style, the Coach is accepting, understanding, stable, and approachable. The Coach makes others feel comfortable with their warmth, empathy and great listening skills. They have the innate ability to listen to people’s feelings and hear what’s not being said as well as what’s being said. Coaches notice and point out the good in others. They also show confidence and trust in people. Coaches highly value long-term, meaningful relationships and prefer people-oriented, positive work environments. Coaches make great counselors, teachers and esteem builders. They are particularly good at solving people’s problems and offering suggestions when asked, but ultimately they prefer to let others make their own decisions.
(–) Negatively, Coaches are so people-oriented that they can easily get distracted and off-task with what they were doing when someone asks for their help. Coaches can take criticism too personally. They often lack assertiveness and a thick skin. Coaches tend to avoid conflict and tension with people because when people express any kind of displeasure toward Coaches they take it as a personal rejection. They could benefit from some assertiveness and conflict training. Coaches have such a strong desire to help people that they can become exhausted by trying to please everyone. They must learn how to say no. Under pressure, Coaches have a tendency to become submissive, overly flexible and intimate, unrealistic about setting and meeting deadlines, and too trusting without differentiating between people.
(+) This person is called the Strategist because no other behavioral style is as adept at devising a thorough plan of action or finding a workable solution to a problem for people as the Strategist. Strategists are usually confident and outgoing while at the same time reliable, hard-working and conscientious. Strategists are skilled at helping people to visualize all the necessary steps required to achieve any goal. Strategists like to accomplish goals through people, just as the other “I” styles do (Socializer, Persuader, and Coach), but when Strategists are focusing on a task, they can really focus on the task. Strategists are critical thinkers who have high expectations of themselves. They can be competitive but they also think about the needs of others. They especially like winning, making a good impression, and looking good in public. Strategists generally have a good balance between thinking (from C, Conscientiousness) and feeling (from I, Influence), between focusing on tasks (C) and focusing on people (I). This allows them to be analytical and logical (from C) problem-solvers as well as intuitive and insightful (from I) people-relaters.
(–) Negatively, Strategists can be restless when under pressure. They like to initiate activities and get things going so can be impatient to see results. Strategists fear losing or looking bad. They can be overly competitive and critical of others at times because they have such high expectations of themselves and others. Strategists with more “D” in their behavioral style can be short-tempered and even lash out when under pressure. With their eagerness and hard-driving approach, Strategists can sometimes underestimate the amount of time and effort required to accomplish tasks. They would do well to pace themselves better and learn to relax to recharge their batteries.
(+) This person is called the Supporter because no other behavioral style is as sensitive to other people’s needs and feelings as the Supporter. Supporters are extremely respectful and considerate of other people. They have a gift for being able to see everyone else’s point of view which allows them to identify solutions to problems that are in the best interest of all involved. Supporters are calm, patient, easy-going, modest people who like to be of service to others. They are skilled at relating to almost anyone and really enjoy working with people. They are traditional, practical people who like to maintain the status quo. They are excellent planners and dependably follow tasks through to completion. They like to follow proven methods and procedures and work in a steady, moderate, methodical way. Supporters are the most amiable, good-natured and agreeable of all the behavioral styles.
(–) Negatively, Supporters don’t deal well with change, stress and conflict. They like the stability of the familiar and predictable. They like a congenial, stress-free environment without any confusing changes, last-minute deadlines or strife. They can also be too dependent on harmony in relationships. For this reason they can be too obliging and placating, wanting to please others and avoid conflict at all costs. Supporters can be slow-moving and indecisive. They can also be too unassertive and lacking in self-confidence. They may hold on to their ideas and views for fear that their opinions won’t be valued. These shy Supporters could benefit from being more forthright in expressing their ideas and views.
(+) This person is called the Go-Getter because no other behavioral style is as diligent, persistent and industrious in achieving their goals as the Go-Getter. Go-Getters are constantly on the go with a busy schedule. They are disciplined, goal-oriented and self-reliant. The motivation that drives Go-Getters is mostly from internal sources and they have a deeply felt conviction about their personal goals. In fact, they can get totally absorbed in a task they are working on and stay focused until they’ve achieve their desired results. Go-Getters are constantly pushing themselves and strive for continual self-improvement. They generally follow a step-by-step approach to getting things done and like to break down tasks into smaller, manageable parts. Go-Getters have a keen interest in their work and have very high standards for the quality of it. They generally like to do work themselves, if at all possible, so that they can make sure it is done right.
(–) Negatively, Go-Getters can be too self-reliant and absorbed in whatever they are doing. They tend to focus on short-term benefits rather than on long-term benefits. They could profit from stepping back to understand the big picture, thereby gaining more clarity in the prioritization of their tasks rather than just jumping in headfirst to any task. They can be rigid, guarded and impatient at times, especially when under pressure. Because they have such high standards for the quality of their work, Go-Getters can fear that others with sub par standards might affect their work. They have a tendency to entertain “either-or” thinking and would benefit by communicating more with others and brainstorming alternative approaches for achieving the results they so desire.
(+) This person is called the Harmonizer because no other behavioral style is as accepting of others and interested in promoting peace and harmony in relationships as the Harmonizer. Harmonizers have a pleasant, warm disposition. They value collaboration and getting along with others. They have a gift for calming down angry or impatient people simply by their relaxed, soothing, kind-natured presence. Harmonizers are empathetic, understanding, and supportive. They are always willing to listen to someone with a sympathetic ear and know how to make people feel wanted and needed. They are adept at building good relationships, bringing people together, and encouraging positive teamwork. They enjoy serving others and knowing they have helped someone in need is reward enough for them. Harmonizers don’t like being the center of attention. They also don’t like being caught in the middle of dissension, conflict or tense, stressful conversations. Harmonizers are tolerant and inclusive of others above all else.
(–) Negatively, some Harmonizers can have trouble speaking up for themselves and saying no, even when it’s in their best interest to do so. They have an aversion to aggressive people and conflict. These overly accommodating Harmonizers could benefit from assertiveness or conflict resolution training and learn to speak up when they feel as if others are taking advantage of them. Harmonizers tend to focus more on others than on themselves. They should be careful to make sure they take care of their own needs as well as they take care of others. They can consider what is personally satisfying for them that doesn’t involve helping others. Harmonizers, like Supporters, can be indecisive. They could benefit from taking a decision-making workshop or lecture.
(+) This person is called the Researcher because no other behavioral style has such a passion for researching data, facts and objective information. Researchers are quiet, steady, low-key people. They rely on analysis, logic, objectivity and reason to solve problems. They like predictable, familiar, stable, stress-free environments and relationships. They pay close attention to details and dislike ambiguity, sudden surprises or changes, rushed decision-making, and last-minute deadlines. Researchers like clarity, order and certainty. They approach tasks and change cautiously and carefully. They like to have clearly defined expectations and standards for their work as well as clear instructions and directions. That way they can develop a plan, prioritize their actions, and focus on a specific purpose, objective or goal without any doubt about what they should be doing. Researchers are calm, dispassionate people who possess an unusual degree of dogged determination and tenacity for completing tasks thoroughly and accurately, as long as they have plenty of time to work at their own pace. Researchers are self-disciplined, self-reliant and comfortable working alone to accomplish their goals. They often enjoy technical work where they can analyze the data, interpret the information and draw conclusions.
(–) Negatively, Researchers can be slow to decide, slow to act, overly cautious, risk-averse, and slow to accept change. They can be stubborn and inflexible when change is necessary because they prefer predictability, certainty and the familiar. Researchers tend to be most comfortable with what and who they know. They sometimes have a difficult time accepting people who are very different from themselves. They would benefit from developing a greater understanding of other styles and being more genuinely open and accepting of different people. Researchers aren’t very good at dealing with emotions, their own or other people’s. They can seem rather cold and dry to more emotional styles. They could benefit from developing more empathy for and emotional understanding of other people. Researchers can easily get bogged down in the details and specifics of a project (beyond what is necessary) and then fail to see the forest for the trees. It is good for them to keep their goal in mind and only work on the details that are necessary to achieve that goal.
(+) This person is called the Analyzer because no other behavioral style has such highly developed critical thinking abilities. Analyzers are gifted at closely examining research, data or information in minute detail in order to understand it better or draw conclusions from it. They value reason and logic above all else and emphasize correctness, quality, precision and accuracy in everything they do. Of course, they like to be systematic and meticulous in their preparation, and have plenty of time to work at their own pace. Analyzers tend to be loners because they are extremely sensitive, private, quiet people who like to be in control of their lives. They don’t deal well with aggressive, emotionally volatile or irrational people and are deeply affected by criticism directed towards them. This is another reason why they are loners. They prefer the peace and quiet of their own company to the potential unpredictability and volatility of relationships. Analyzers are cautious but intense by nature. They are usually impeccable in their personal habits and concerned about their appearance.
(–) Negatively, Analyzers can be reticent to share their thoughts, and especially feelings, with others since they are private by nature. They would benefit by opening up and sharing more of themselves, especially their insights and knowledge. Analyzers can be extremely self-critical since they often have unrealistically high standards for themselves. Sometimes their perfectionism can cause them to procrastinate, fear making mistakes, be indecisive (for fear of making a wrong decision), or get bogged down in “analysis paralysis.” Analyzers have a strong need to be in control of their life at all times so they can minimize the chance of anything going wrong. For example, if Analyzers are ever asked to give a presentation at work they will way over-prepare. If they have to make a major decision they will collect way more information than they really need. Analyzers can worry excessively over little things, making mountains out of molehills. Some Analyzers try to avoid all risks or emotional entanglements that might affect their peaceful, predictable lifestyle.
(+) This person is called the Innovator because no other behavioral style is as adept at thinking of news ways to look at and interpret reality, except for possibly the Pioneer. Innovators are constantly thinking about what need is missing in the world and then try to think of a unique solution to meet that need. Innovators, and Pioneers, like to challenge the status-quo and strive to accomplish something unusual, even visionary. Their thinking is innovative and both styles like to do things in their own unique way. Both are energized by originality, creativity and discovery. What distinguishes Innovators from Pioneers is that Innovators like to research any innovative idea they have thoroughly and completely BEFORE taking it out into the world. They want to analyze it from every possible angle to make sure it is sound and will work in the real world before taking it out into the real world. Ideally, they would like to test, measure, monitor and perfect their idea in private to avoid any embarrassment or humiliation that might be encountered if their idea didn’t work in public. Innovators are imaginative and introspective but also ambitious, hard-working and goal-oriented. They are independent and like to be in control of their life. They usually prefer to work alone, or with people of their choosing. Their quick-thinking, impatient mind is counterbalanced by their simultaneous desire to think things through carefully before taking action. Once things have been thought through thoroughly though, Innovators are willing to take calculated risks. Innovators have very high expectations of themselves and drive themselves hard to do work they can be proud of. Like Pioneers, they put a lot of thought into solving future problems and have a gift for foresight.
(–) Negatively, Innovators can have all sorts of mental and relationship problems. Having such perfectionistic expectations of themselves can mean they are prone to be too self-critical, to procrastinate (when they can’t figure out how to do something perfectly), to overanalyze themselves, and to be disappointed with themselves frequently. Because of the highly pensive aspect of this combination, some Innovators can spend too much time thinking negatively about themselves and their ideas, which can lower their self-esteem and vitality. Innovators love freedom but can be too restless, impulsive and bore easily. This can cause them to flit from one idea to another and not accomplish much. To compound these problems, some Innovators can be aloof and uncommunicative because they lack the more relationship-oriented influences of I (Influence) and S (Steadiness). They also fear losing their autonomy and independence. When in an intimate relationship, Innovators would benefit from communicating their innermost thoughts and feelings more often.
(+) This person is called the Expert because no other behavioral style is as proficient in a specialized area as the Expert. Although their desire is to be expert in one area, Experts are usually very knowledgeable in many different areas because they love to learn and are so interested in personal growth. Experts are highly analytical, curious and quick-thinking. They can relate well to most people and enjoy discussing and debating topics of interest. Experts’ self-esteem is tied up in their work (because of their Conscientiousness, C) but because of the secondary influence from the letter “I” (Influence), they are very sensitive to how others perceive them and their work. Socially, Experts can be relaxed, casual, congenial and easygoing but when it comes to their work they are usually self-disciplined, intensely focused on meeting their own high standards, and quite perfectionistic. Producing quality work on time is very important to Experts. Experts are intuitive and observant about people as well as proficient at solving complex problems.
(–) Negatively, Experts can underestimate the amount of time it takes to complete tasks. Their natural curiosity about ideas and people sometimes causes them to get distracted (either by a conversation with someone or a piece of interesting information) and digress from the work at hand. So, they would benefit from either staying more focused or being more realistic and overestimate how long tasks may take, to account for some distractions. Experts tend to have high expectations of themselves and can sometimes have unrealistically high expectations of others too, especially those that feel there is a “right way” to do things. Because of their intense nature, they can sometimes verbalize their frustration and impatience with other people, especially when they’re under pressure. These Experts would do well to show more genuine appreciation for others, despite the fact that they may not do things as perfectly as the Expert. Experts, like the other Conscientiousness styles (Analyzers, Innovators and Perfectionists), are very sensitive to criticism and would benefit from not taking constructive feedback so personally. Given their desire for positive social recognition, some Experts can be overly self-conscious about what others think and how others feel about them. Experts, like Perfectionists, may define their self-worth more by what they do than who they are as people.
(+) This person is called the Perfectionist because no other behavioral style is as interested in being perfect and doing things right as the Perfectionist. Perfectionists are purpose driven, analytical, hard-working and self-directed. They have superior organization skills, pay great attention to details, and do thorough, careful, accurate work. They are highly independent but enjoy working in a stable, structured environment where they have clearly defined expectations and precise standards for their work. They don’t mind following established rules at work but like to follow their own systematic procedures in both their personal and work lives. Perfectionists are restrained, cautious, tactful and diplomatic. They are extremely conscientious and work well in most administrative and supporting roles or in quality control, although they can do any kind of work that makes use of their natural gifts and talents. Perfectionists are self-disciplined and great at delaying their own short-term gratification in order to achieve a long-term goal.
(–) Negatively, Perfectionists can be overly cautious, risk-averse, and slow to accept change. They can be stubborn and inflexible when change is necessary because they prefer predictability, certainty and the familiar. Perfectionists tend to be most comfortable with what and who they know. They sometimes have a difficult time accepting people who are very different from themselves. They would benefit from developing a greater understanding of other styles and being more genuinely open and accepting of different people. Perfectionists can be secretive and judgmental, especially when under pressure. They can be slow to act and slow to make decisions because of the amount of time they like to spend gathering and analyzing the pertinent data before acting or making a decision. Like the other Conscientious styles (Analyzers, Innovators, and Experts), they can be overly sensitive to criticism and would benefit from not taking constructive feedback so personally. Perfectionists have an especially hard time with people who are hostile and antagonistic. Some have trouble seeing the big picture and “can’t see the forest for the trees.” Perfectionists, like Experts, may define their self-worth more by what they do than who they are as people. They can sometimes have a hard time relishing compliments directed toward them that don’t involve their work.
The theoretical model on which the DISC system is based comes from the book Emotions of Normal People written by the psycho-physiologist (among other titles) William Moulton Marston, Ph.D. (1893 – 1947). It was published in 1928. Based on his pioneering research, Marston developed a model of normal behavior designed to examine the behavior of individuals in a specific environment or situation. Unlike the other systems on this website, the DISC model looks at behavioral styles and preferences in a given situation, not personality traits and characteristics.
The DISC model came from Marston’s desire to measure the energy of consciousness (psychonic energy) and behavior. Marston did not develop a DISC test or assessment. In fact, he never used his DISC model as an assessment at all. He was most interested in how normal people felt and behaved as they interacted with the world around them. In Emotions of Normal People, Marston describes people as behaving along two axes. The first axis describes how individuals respond to their environment, whether they are more active or passive (another way of saying this is whether an individual perceives him/herself as more or less powerful than the environment, respectively). The second axis describes how individuals perceive their environment, whether as more favorable or unfavorable (Marston called unfavorable “antagonistic” but DISC practitioners don’t call it that anymore). By placing the axes at right angles to each other, a four-quadrant model results that reliably describes four styles of human behavior: Dominance, Influence (Marston named it “Inducement”), Steadiness (Marston named it “Submission”), and Conscientiousness (Marston named it “Compliance”).
The four DISC behavioral dimensions (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Conscientiousness) reflect the different ways that people subconsciously answer two questions about a given situation:
Your feelings about the environment and your perceived power in it are the underpinnings of the behavioral style you show in any situation.
For example, in regard to the first question, if you are in a situation where you are feeling trusted, respected and liked you are most likely to perceive the environment as favorable because you are feeling comfortable and at ease. If you are being called into the boss’s office because you made a mistake that is going to cost the company a lot of money, then you’ll probably feel as though the environment is unfavorable because you are stressed out about what might happen to you. Sometimes new situations or environments can make us feel a little uncomfortable and thus subconsciously perceive it as unfavorable. Prolonged stress, such as occurs in a bad intimate relationship or with high credit card debt, can make us more susceptible to perceiving environments as unfavorable because the background of our lives and thinking is ill at ease and uncomfortable. Likewise, if the background of our life and thinking is at ease and comfortable then we are more likely to perceive an environment as favorable.
In regard to the second question, if you feel as though you have the ability to exert some influence over your situation or the environment then you perceive yourself to have power or control in the situation or the environment. If you feel as though you don’t have the ability to influence your situation then you will perceive yourself as less powerful and in less control of the situation.
Each combination of yes and no answers to the two above questions is unique to a DISC behavioral style.
In 1972, researchers at the
If you have learned a little about the 4 primary behavioral dimensions (if not click here) you may have noticed that your unique behavioral style is probably a mix of 2 or more of these primary dimensions. Only about 20% of people use a single behavioral style. The other 80% of people use a combination of behavioral styles in most situations. While everyone is unique, there seem to be 16 distinct, discernable behavioral styles that emerge from the DISC self-assessment results.
4 of these behavioral styles are consistent with the 4 pure behavioral dimensions:
The other 12 of these behavioral styles are combination styles. For each of these styles, one behavioral dimension is primary or strongest and a second behavioral dimension is next in strength or secondary. The other 2 behavioral dimensions are somewhat lagging in influence. Here are the 12 combination styles:
Two people can have quite different scores on their DISC self-assessments and still share the same behavioral style IF the shape of each of their graphs is similar. Example DISC graphs will help to illustrate this point (to learn more about how to read the DISC Behavioral Style Graph click here).
Consider the following 2 graphs for “The Opportunist” behavioral style, mostly a pure Dominance (D) style. The Intensity Index for the left-most graph is: D = 27, I = 10, S = 16, and C = 14. The Intensity Index for the right-most graph is: D = 20, I = 2, S = 3, and C = 3. These scores are very different yet the graphs themselves have a similar visual pattern (high D score but relatively lower and equal I, S, and C scores). It is actually the pattern, and not the score, that determines a person’s DISC behavioral style. So, while these two people answered their DISC self-assessments quite differently, they have much in common because of the similar shape of their graphs.
Below are two different graphs for the “The Socializer” behavioral style, mostly a pure Influence (I) style. The two graphs below share a common high I score with the other scores (D, S, and C) being relatively low and equal, in comparison. So, while these two people answered their DISC self-assessments quite differently, they have much in common because of the similar shape of their graphs.
Below are two different graphs for the “The Supporter” behavioral style, mostly a pure Steadiness (S) style. The two graphs below share a common high S score with the other scores (D, I, and C) being relatively low and equal, in comparison. So, while these two people answered their DISC self-assessments quite differently, they have much in common because of the similar shape of their graphs.
Below are two different graphs for the “The Analyzer” behavioral style, mostly a pure Conscientiousness (C) style. The two graphs below share a common high C score with the other scores (D, I, and S) being relatively low and equal, in comparison. So, while these two people answered their DISC self-assessments quite differently, they have much in common because of the similar shape of their graphs.
Below are the two most extremely different graphs (highest and lowest Category Scores, that is) that can be found for the “The Persuader” combination behavioral style. This style is strongest in Influence (I) and secondarily strong in Dominance (D). These two graphs may not seem very similar in shape to be the same Persuader behavioral style but I and D are such strong influences in a person’s personality that the mere fact that I and D are such high scores in each graph (≥ category number 5) means that people with these graphs will be outgoing, enthusiastic, optimistic, persuasive, talkative, friendly yet assertive, and self-confident (or at least appear that way).
For each of the other 11 combination behavioral styles not shown here, a pattern emerges where each graph for a particular style has a strongest behavioral dimension (D, I, S or C) and a second strongest behavioral dimension. That is the most critical factor for creating the combination behavioral style patterns.