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DISC Personality Profiling and why I use it with my clients

Where does DISC originate from?

You might be surprised to know that DISC Profiling actually began in 444 B.C, with the earth, fire, air and water elements being written about by Empodocles. He believed that these were external factors that had an influence on human behaviour. This shifted to the theory that they’re internal factors in 400 B.C when Hippocrates renamed them the 4 temperaments.

Flash forward to the early 1920s and the introduction of the Myers Briggs Personality Test by Carl Jung. He agreed that the behaviours were caused by internal factors, and furthered the thinking to acknowledge that our personality type is attributed to the way we process information, and therefore, think. He introduced the 4 styles, Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition. MBTI is still widely used today.

Towards the end of the 1920’s William Moulton Marston built on this framework with his book ‘Emotions of Normal People’ which essentially defined what is now referred to as the DISC Personality System. He renames the 4 styles Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, and put forward that idea that they can be internal and innate while also being influenced by external circumstances.

This was then built on further in 1940 by Walter Clark who took the theory and developed the personality profile.

What does it measure?

I’ll start here by telling you what it doesn’t measure!

It doesn’t measure your intelligence, it’s not an IQ test. It doesn’t measure your mental health and is not intended to be used to diagnose mental illness. It does not directly measure your values, although the conversations that arise in feedback sessions can give a really strong insight, in my experience.

It does measure your behavioural tendencies and preferences, helping you recognise patterns that might occur. It also measures how you respond in different situations, as you see yourself, as you think others see you and as you are during stressful and challenging periods.

It can give you an insight into how you might use your communication style to influence other people, and your preferred pace of life, including how much time and information you need to make decisions.

What are the 4 styles?

In short the 4 styles can be described as follows:

D – Dominant, direct, driven and confident

I – Influencer, sociable, optimistic and enthusiastic

S – Steady, reflective, gentle, team player

C – Compliant, conscientious, analytical and logical

It’s worth noting here that the assessment shouldn’t be used to pigeon hole ourselves into any one of these styles, and it’s often the case that we display elements from different styles at different times.

Understanding that we all have tendencies and knowing how to manage them for our maximum benefit is where it comes into it’s own.

Why is it useful?

To answer this question, I asked some of the people I’d worked with recently what they liked about it and how they’d used it.

This is what they said:

· It made looking for a job so much easier, I was able to take shortcuts I wouldn’t have known about otherwise

· It’s improved my communication at work and at home

· It’s helped me be more empathetic and consider where others might be coming from

· I’m much more self aware and kinder to myself somehow

· I’m more aware of my drivers and motivators which has impacted how I’m making decisions.

· Knowing the pace I prefer to work at has meant I can have conversations with others about what I need and has helped me be more productive over all

· Because my communication has been so much better, my stress levels have dropped.

How does it work?

If you were to carry out a DISC profile assessment with me as part of a coaching programme, I would send you an access code for an online questionnaire. It should take no more than 7 minutes to complete as all the questions are on a rating scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree and you’re advised to go with your first answer. It’s important to keep in mind that it’s not a test in that sense of the word and there’s no right or wrong.

The scoring is done online and I’ll send through your profile report as soon as I receive it. This is very in depth, usually around 17 – 20 pages. It talks you through your general behavioural style, communication style including tips and compatibility with other styles, areas for growth, strengths, preferred environments and pace.

We would then use this information as the foundation of a feedback session to give you a greater understanding of the results and how you can use them to your advantage.

If you’d like to know more about carrying out your own assessment, send me an e-mail at and I’ll be in touch.

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