DISC Assessment: From Theory to Behavioral Styles to Communicate Better



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Self-awareness is indispensable to your success. Awareness of others Behaviors holds just as much weight.

Think of the value of discovering your own Communication Style and how you can capitalize on your strengths and personal motivators.

Next, think of the value of discovering how others Behaviors are intertwined with your demeanor and identifying what makes them tick, and how you can motivate and build off of their strengths.

These insights appear when a DISCcert Certified Trainer explains one's DISC Graphs and Reports.

DISCcert, a national leader in DISC Certification, understands the importance of the DISC Behavioral Assessment as a tool towards fostering successful conversations and relationships.

As a result, this affects individuals as well as creates a positive workforce and culture.

In this article, we discuss four areas of Styles/Behavior, how to become people smart, compare the two popular Assessments on the market today, myths about DISC that need to be demystified, and more. 

Chapter 1

What is DISC? Gaining Insights into Communication Styles

DISC is a Style Assessment. It is an acronym for the four primary Behavioral drivers: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. DISC Assessments are imperative self-evaluation tools.

The DISC Assessment gives you extraordinary information on how you prefer to communicate with others. And further provides insight on how other Communication Styles want to be communicated with and treated. The insights gained from DISC Assessments are essential for improved communication and interpersonal relationships.

The DISC Assessment itself generates a DISC Report that provides insights into your Style, others' Style and how each interacts. We all have a little of each DISC Style within us. And when you think about it, we all live and work in an environment where we need to communicate and poor communication is frustrating and futile...

  • Think of a hiring Manager trying to sift through a pile of applicants to determine the best match for a position. Your company could use DISC as part of their hiring process to find the right fit.

  • Think of yourself trying to respond to a colleague without conflict or stress (Your Style and understanding their Style and how Behavior impacts or improves teamwork and decreases conflict is invaluable.)

  • Think of top executives or CEO's that are looking to improve interpersonal communication skills to help their effectiveness in leadership

Can you see where understanding people's Behavioral differences come in extremely handy?

For one, implementing DISC could help a team overcome communication challenges and re-engage employees. Here's an alarming fact: 35% of all US employees are disengaged and looking for a new job. In fact, actively disengaged employees cause U.S. companies between $450 – $550 billion in lost productivity per year. [source]

This cost is a result of employees not being able to effectively communicate in their organization.

Let's face it...

Everybody can stand to enhance their communications with others. It can be as easy as just appreciating the similarities and differences in our Styles. 

What are the different Styles? (I will discuss the different Styles in Chapter 3).

But first...

Let's look at how it all began and how DISC evolved over time.

Chapter 2

DISC History From Theory to Assessment

The past 100 years have seen an evolution in the DISC Models, DISC interpretation and Validation. Today, the DISC Assessment has been used by over a million people yearly to improve work productivity, teamwork, and communication.

The timeline below highlights the growth of DISC and its advantages to a more communicative world.

Early 1920’s Carl Jung, father of analytical psychology, outlined the four Types of personalities/human Behavior. "Jung proposed that the human psyche contains within itself psychological constructs developed throughout the evolution of the human species." [source

Jung theorized we fall into two categories: Introvert or Extravert. And further into: Judging or Perceiving categories. [source]

1928 - DISC Model of Behavior was proposed by William Moulton Marston, a psychologist, in a book entitled Emotions of Normal People. He believed the four primary Behavioral Types should be categorized as Dominance (D), Inducement (I), Submission (S), and Compliance (C) [source

Marston's work built on the theory of Jung's but created a four quadrant model.

1940 - Dr. Clarke constructed the first actual DISC Assessment. He named this Assessment Tool the "Activity Vector Analysis". Respondents took the Assessment two times, first with "Least" selections, and again with "Most" selections.

1950’s - Dr. Cleaver figured out a way to combine the process of selection, so the Assessment needed only to be administered one time. His Assessment was designed so that you must choose one out of four options, creating a "Forced Choice" Tool.

1970's - Dr. John Geier, a prominent psychologist, and professor at the University of Minnesota, created the DISC Assessment that is used today as the standard for all DISC Assessment Instruments. His Tool updated the Assessment terminology, and was designed to be a more user-friendly format. He also renamed the Assessment as the “DISC.”

Currently - We are using DISCcert System which continues to focus on patterns of external observable Behaviors. 

The four primary Behavioral Types are categorized as Dominant (D), Influence (I), Steady (S), and Conscientious (C) ©.

The next section will cover the 4 Behavioral Types in more detail.



Chapter 3

DISC Behavioral Styles [DISCcert Model]

The four basic DISC Behavior Types recognized today are Dominant (D), Influence (I), Steady (S), and Conscientious (C). The first letter of each of the Behavior patterns creates the acronym DISC.

Each Behavior Style has a significantly unique Orientation. Each Orientation denotes a specific focus that generates personal energy and motivation, and as a result, there is a wide variance in the preferences to act.

The DISC quadrants are divided in halves (as you can see in the image above) to recognize the different Styles. First is based on Pace.  S and C Styles run at a deliberate Pace and are more reserved. D and I Styles are noted as quick and more active. Next, priority is addressed. The D and C Styles are more task-oriented, whereas the I and S Styles are more people-oriented. 

Next, let's drill-down the DISC Styles and their different Behaviors.

Four DISC Styles and What to Look For


D Styles tend to like full control in most situations and are competitive and result-oriented people. People with high "D" (Dominant) Behaviors are problem solvers. They like to get right to the point and do not spend time on non-essentials. To win with them, provide facts and anticipate questions.


I Styles are people-oriented, typically focus on the positive and do not necessarily focus on the details. People with high "I" (Influence) Behaviors are bubbly and love to talk. Out of all the Styles, they are probably the talkers of the bunch. And are known to like being the center of attention. I Styles like to be involved and build alliances. They like when you acknowledge their ideas and ask for their opinion.


S Styles are also people-oriented but more reserved. They are known to be stable, dependable, and methodical. They are reliable as well as a team player. People with high "S" (Steady) Behaviors love to plan everything. When working with an S Style be aware they like a plan and a good follow-through process. 


C Styles think logically and are task-oriented. They are the most analytical out of the four Styles. People with high "C" (Conscientious) Behaviors are all about following procedure. The best way to get along with a C Style is always be prepared when talking with them and provide documentation.

Each of us has some D-I-S-C in our overall behavior. What defines your natural Pattern is what Styles are above the "energy line". Most people do have Combination Style, two or three Styles above the "energy line". In these circumstances, whatever Style has the highest intensity is listed first in the DISC Pattern. When you receive your DISC Report after you complete the DISC Assessment, you learn your Natural Communication Style(s) and how to build your Style(s) with others.


Take my complimentary DISCcert online DISC Assessment.

It's simple and helps measure Communication Behavior preferences. Plus, it only takes 10 minutes but will change the way you speak with others forever:

Get Your Free DISC Assessment


Chapter 4

Why it Works and How to Become People Smart

The DISC Model stems from the idea that in order to go from point A to point B, people have different ways of going about it. If you are leading a team, it's best to leverage the talents of the team in a way that speaks to each individual.

Consider this...

You are building a better "team" one Behavioral Style at a time.

There are benefits to any company that embraces a DISC Assessment for their employees. It helps discover their self-awareness and team work Styles. It will transform your organization.

Christine Buell, Director of Leadership Development at Avera was responsible for integrating DISC at her health care organization. She says,

“We’ve really tried to build that into the culture and help our teams see how, by understanding how one another can work and appreciating each other’s differences, that can really make you a great team.” [source]

In a recent Interact/Harris Poll, 91% of 1,000 employees rated the ability of their leader to communicate effectively as lacking.

Healthy and productive communication requires a connection between two or more people. And when looking at the different Communication Styles, a manager can be aware of how to handle situations more effectively.

With good leadership, a team will want to work for you, with you. When team members become more engaged, it doesn't feel like "work" any more. They become more productive and work smarter.

Managers at any level, from small team leader to top executives need well-defined plans and goals. They also need to understand the different Communication Styles through coaching and accountability to achieve their goals and highest potential.

Leaders can increase employee participation through their communication skills. The more you are able to speak their language, the better and easier everything in the workplace (and life) will become.

Chapter 5

Comparison of Two Popular Assessment Models Today

How we communicate is based on personal communication Style. And there is no shortage of terms used in naming the different Styles. A quick Google search on the term "Communication Styles" will yield a range of names from:

1. Passive, Aggressive, Passive-aggressive, Assertive

2. Analytical, Intuitive, Functional, Personal 

3. Analyzer, Director, Relator, Socializer

4. Director, Expressor, Thinker, Harmonizer

5. Amiable, Expressive, Driver, Analytical

6. Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, Explorers

7. And of course, Dominant, Influence, Steady, and Conscientious

...and the list goes on

As expressed, one Style isn't better than another. It's just important to understand your Style as well as identifying and understanding others' Styles.

Just as there are different Styles, there are different Behavior Models.

Let's take a look at the two popular Behavior Models offered on the market today.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) vs DISC Model: Side by Side Comparison 

Myers-Briggs and DISC have been around for some time. Both Behavior Models have great reputations and are well documented.


They do serve slightly different purposes. And measure different things. We'll take a look at the similarities and differences between the MBTI Personality Type Assessment and the DISC Behavior Style Assessment.

Depending on your end goal will help you decide which avenue/Model you want to pursue. The DISC Model describeshow people prefer to communicateand behave in their environment. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator describeshow people approach the environmentor situation intellectually and emotionally.


Personality Type in the Workplace

Why DISC is Easier to Remember Than MBTI

Chapter 6

Defeat DISC Style Myths to Transform Your Organization

DISC misconceptions are common.

Let's look at a few of the myths about DISC and consider what is actually going on...

5 DISC Style Myths You Need to Let Go

1. DISC is the full profile of a human being

Let's face it. We are complicated human beings. DISC explores the four main Behavioral traits within our Communication Style: Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientious. 


That does not encompass our full make-up. Attitudes and values play a role. Many factors go into shaping our Behaviors. 

2. Culture/Society/Environment does not make a difference

Cultural context will make a difference.

In fact, when you are an infant, your DISC Natural style is determined by their DNA and their family, society, and culture influencers. One can learn to behave differently, but that action denotes skill development rather than demonstrating one's preferences.

3. DISC will pick the winning top performer for your team

DISC is not a precursor to your performance, it is a Style. In fact, any Style can be a top performer.

When hiring, it is useful to use DISC to “profile” the top producers. If there is a Communication Style or Styles that prevails, then it is helpful to use that as one source of selecting the right match for a position.

Style does not dictate skill. The best combination when hiring is both Style and Skill.

4. Judge people based on your DISC style 

Don't judge people because they are not your DISC Style. Our own Style could cause us to be biased against another individual. Keep in mind, no Style is better than another.

Here's some thoughts and examples of how the Style may not match the characteristic the way you think it should...

5. There is a right and wrong answer.

DISC is neutral. There is no right or wrong answer. It's an appreciation of different views and the solution is a better understanding of the four DISC Behavioral Styles.

Chapter 7

DISCcert Certification to Implement Change You Need Today

DISCcert Certifications enable you to teach DISC with competency and confidence.

Just as there are different Styles and Models, there are different methods of learning about Behavior Styles. We teach how to facilitate DISC training versus just training DISC Certification. 

What does that mean and why is it different?

The program goes beyond offering trainers Certification in DISC Assessment. It provides them with a set of tools that explain how to use the DISC System to inspire employees, educate managers, coach executives and increase team building.

We offer a highly interactive DISC Certification program that helps you...

  • Teach others how to quickly identify DISC Styles

  • Show how to apply new DISC Communication strategies 

  • Learn to facilitate practical DISC activities with confidence

  • Quickly be able to identify DISC Styles

  • Learn to apply strategies for better communication


DISC is a tool to drive change, foster team effectiveness and develop leaders.

If you are an HR/Training Professional struggling with managing organizational change, conflicts, and/or poor leadership consider DISCcert Certification. 

We are your pathway to overcoming these challenges and can help you build a culture of successful communications.

Let's talk!