Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Develop Piercing Insight into Yourself and the People Around You

Recently I was invited to attend a very special training. At first I was pretty skeptical because the course was about a personality / behavior profiling system and I tend to shy away from those because all the ones I've been exposed to in the past - and there are about 200 of them out there - have been pretty inaccurate and useless in my estimation.

It didn't take me long to realize, though, that this one is different.  This system is astonishingly accurate and has to be, given that the guy demonstrating it used to use it as a handler in human intelligence operations, where there's definitely no margin for error. 

The system is called DISC and it is dynamite!  In addition to providing a really accurate assessment of all of us on the course, it helped me finally understand one of my own kids!  The system maintains that all of us are a blend of four different personality styles and the predominance of one or two of those styles explains what we most tend to want, need, fear and get motivated by.

The DISC test:

The DISC assessment for adults consists of just 24 questions and can be done in about 10-15 minutes.  There are also specialized versions for teens and younger children.

Each letter stands for one of the personality styles.  When the four are placed in the "disc" formation, below, the styles on top (D and I) tend to be more outgoing, while those on the bottom (S and C) are more reserved.  However, the I and S styles share a tendency to focus on people and relationships, while the D and C styles are more task-oriented.  

The tendencies of each style, briefly summarized, are:

D - dominant, direct, demanding.  These people need choice, challenge and control.  They take charge, want results and have high self-confidence.  Their downfall can be a lack of empathy and ability to relate, not to mention arrogance.  People with a very high D profile represent only about 10% of the population.  

I - inspiring, influencing, impressionable.  The "I" folks want to be the center of attention and the life of the party.  They're motivated mainly by fun, and thrive on recognition, approval and popularity.  Warm and friendly, they run the risk of being ruled by their unpredictable emotions.  About 25-30% of the population have "I" at the top of their DISC profile.

S - supportive, stable, shy.  The "S" types among us are status-quo people, very security oriented, sentimental and often the sweetest people you'll ever meet.  They need lots of TLC, appreciation, assurance and to know their own situation is secure.  They're steadfast, dependable, great listeners and super team players.  When their "S-traits" get out of control, they may be indecisive, inflexible and seek peace at any price.  30=35% of us are "S" dominant.

C - cautious, cognitive and critical thinkers.  The "C" types are highly analytical and if you want to persuade them about anything, you'd damn well better get your facts straight, because they're not pushovers.  They run on reason and expect intellectual quality from others.  They pursue excellence and if you don't, then try to stay out of their way.  Orderly, conscientious and precise, they're an asset to any endeavor.  A "C" who goes off the rails, though, may be just annoyingly critical and inflexible, worshiping procedure for its own sake.  About one in every four to five people has a "C-dominant" personality style. 

So How Did Yours Truly Fare?

Well, as a child and adolescent I was a very high "S", with strong "C" undercurrents.  Right now I'd say C is definitely giving S a run for its money and when certain situations bring out my D traits, the people closest to me have learned to duck ;-)  As for "I", that's the lowest of the four on my chart.  

Keep in mind that none of these styles is either "good" or "bad".  They're simply descriptions of how we are "wired" from our nature (DNA) and nurture (experiences).  Of course, as we work on ourselves and our mindsets throughout life and go beyond our comfort zones, we gain flexibility and self-awareness, so we can grow beyond our instinctive "wiring".  That said, the wiring is still there and we tend to revert to it in times of stress.

Advantages of DISC

The class was unanimous that DISC is an unusually useful tool for understanding yourself, others and how you or they interact and behave.  Using DISC you can not only gain insight into the previously puzzling behavior of those closest to you; you can also learn to size up new acquaintances very quickly.  

The DISC tool can help leaders and managers understand and work through some of their challenges and assign the right kind of work to different team members based on what really motivates them.  The system works really well for conflict mediation and can enable you to "connect" with people you may have thought were just "impossible".  Teachers can more easily assess students' learning styles and make learning fun as well as effective, as this video with DISC founder Dr. Robert Rohm explains...

So, all in all, DISC is a remarkable tool for improving your personal resilience, since it helps you understand yourself and others, create better relationships and make decisions based on who you really are, rather than what others think you should be.  If you'd like to do the DISC assessment for yourself or have your spouse, kids or colleagues try it, just go here

~ Dr. Symeon Rodger

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