DISC profiling - Understanding the idiots I work withsteemCreated with Sketch.

in Project HOPE3 years ago

DISC Profiling

I was in a meeting the other day, and there were two members of the meeting that were not seeing eye to eye. My immediate thought was, "why are they both acting like idiots?" In fact, they were treating each other like idiots. I know they are both very good at the job they do and have immense skills that they bring to the team. So what is going on here? I am sure we have all come across people are work that we struggle to get along with.

In the situation above, one of the people in the meeting was a dominate leader type. He was what you might call - the alpha male. He is known for making quick decisions and sometimes having little patience for others. In our entrepreneurial business, this has been a strength. We need to move quickly and his decisive action has made sure we haven't wasted time.

The other person was a really detailed person. He likes to analyse and really understand the detail. The more detail we have, the more confident he will be that we know what we are talking about. He was frustrated that the dominant leader was making a quick rash decision without having the detail to back up his argument. The dominant leader was getting frustrated that we spend too much time debating things when in his mind it was very clear what we all needed to do. They were both looking at each other as if the other one was an idiot.

And then there was me. I was looking at both of them thinking they were both idiots. It was so simple in my mind. We just needed to empathetically understand each other's points of view. Find a compromise, and move forward.

So there we were, thinking that everyone else was an idiot!

Conflict Profiling

In this next few posts, I want to cover DISC theory by psychologist William Marston that introduced four core personality traits and DISC assessments that were first created based on Marston's work by Walter Clarke. DISC profiling allows us to understand different profiles and the conflict that may arise when these profiles interact with each other in a business or in a personal setting.

Before we get started a couple of important things to note. First, there is no right answer and it doesn't mean that one profile is better than the other. In fact, strong teams should be balanced by putting together a mixture of different personality traits.

Secondly, profiling isn't black and white. We all show characteristics from all the profiles some of the time. We just tend to lean more to some than others. Most people have two stronger traits with one overall dominant trait.

Finally, DISC profiling isn't just about personality. It is about character and behavioural traits that change the way we react to certain emotions. The result is that we behave slightly differently to each other and will react differently to given situations. Understanding that people are different, is the first step to not considering the "difference" as a sign of being an idiot.

DISC Introduction

There is a lot to cover, so I will cover the 4 different DISC types in separate posts. For now, just a quick summary to give you a flavour.


Table 1: Summary of the key attributes for each profile

DescriptionDominant characters who place an emphasis on achieving resultsPlace an emphasis on relationships and influencing othersDependable people who place an emphasis on sincerity and cooperationDetailed people who place an emphasis on accuracy and quality
OrientationTask / OutgoingPeople / OutgoingPeople / ReservedTask / Reserved
KeywordsDriven Fast-paced Decisive Determined DirectEnthusiastic Persuasive Optimistic Trusting CollaborativeStable Calm Predictable Patient LoyalAnalytical Cautious Reserved Accurate Systematic


DISC profiling gives us a way of understanding the behaviours of others. In my example at the top of the post. The dominant type is a D - me makes decisions quickly and moves and speed. The other person is a C - he likes to understand the detail and takes time to consider the right direction based on proper analysis. Their behaviour types were clashing in the meeting and caused the tension that made them both look at the other like they were idiots. Remember, there is no correct profile - all of us have our strengths and weaknesses.

The colours above are used by some, and notably by Thomas Erikson in his book on DISC profiling called Surrounded by Idiots, and I will using the colours in referring to the profile types in the next posts where I will delve deeper into each type, their strengths, their weaknesses and how to deal with them.

Note: Images are my own. The original source of the first image is from Pexels


I think I love this disc profiling because it helps us to understand the behavior of others and not only that will definitely help us when interacting with others

hi @mandate - exactly that. It is not black and white - and it is not good generally to put people into boxes. However, it is useful for us to consider our own shortfalls in terms of how we struggle to deal with certain types of people.

Thanks for your comment - happy new year my friend!

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