Without These 5 Principles, the DISC Personality Tool is Useless

The DISC Personality tool was invented in 1928 by William Marston, and is still used around the world by coaches, universities, and Fortune 500 companies.

Yet, the DISC tool can be useless.  If the tool doesn’t make its way from your head to your day-to-day behavior, nothing has been accomplished by using it.

If you haven’t taken the DISC assessment, here’s a link to a free version that includes a downloadable booklet outlining your DISC profile.  It takes about 15 minutes to complete.

Now that you know your own DISC profile, following are five key principles to bear in mind as you implement it to improve the health of your relationships at work and at home:

  1. Assume positive intent
  2. Control your personality or it will control you
  3. Work on, not in your areas of weakness
  4. Leopards don’t change their spots – learn to show grace to others
  5. Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness

1. Assume positive intent

Since people are all wired differently, they respond to stimulus in different ways.  For instance, while an Inspiring person loves to be spontaneous, a Conscientious person hates and fears spontaneity.

When we can’t understand why someone responds to a situation differently than we do, our first impulse is to make a negative assumption about that person and their motives.

We say things like:

  • That person hates me!
  • That person is so lazy!
  • That person only cares about themselves!

Most of the time, our assumptions are wrong.  There are a thousand reasons why a person responds the way they do, none of which are about you.  Maybe they are under extreme stress in ways you don’t know about, and it’s pushing their highest DISC personality dimension even higher.  Many times people respond the way they do because of the way they are mentally hard-wired from birth.

So, always assume positive intent until and unless you have hard evidence to believe otherwise.

2. Control your personality or it will control you

It’s sad to see an older person who still hasn’t figured it out.  They still don’t understand that they aren’t reining in the ugly side of their Dominant personality and so drive others away from them.

Or the Inspiring person who flits from one idea to the next and is late for every meeting.  They still don’t realize that people look on them as a nice person, but essentially a flake.

The Supportive person is kind and would give the shirt off their back, but they can act (and be thought of as) a doormat; a person that others can walk over.

The Supportive needs to control their personality and assert their own boundaries.

The Conscientious person is structured and organized, but can be viewed by others as too picky and controlling.  They too need to control their personality type, or they will be controlled by it.

3. Work on, not in your areas of weakness

We all have areas of weakness that we need to work on and get better at.  But we should not be spending our days operating in these natural areas of weakness.  We all need to focus on spending our days working in our areas of natural strength.

So, work on where you’re weak, but spend the bulk of your time doing what you’re naturally good at.

4. Leopards don’t change their spots – learn to show grace to others

Once everyone has completed the DISC tool they will have a greater understanding of who they are and who you are and how you can communicate more effectively.

The one thing that is not going to change is their DISC profile.  No one can be ‘mentored’ into being a different person.  You are who you are.  You were born to be who you are.  No one is broken!

On the other hand, no one is going to fundamentally change either.  Teams (and personal relationships) improve when we learn to extend grace to those around us, and not expect them to change who they are.

5. Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness

If you have the DISC personality strength, you also have the shadow side of that strength.  You may not see it in yourself, but I guarantee you that others do.

Trust the tool and read the negative side of the ledger for each of your strong personality traits.  Ask for input from others.  Grow in your self-awareness so you can be more effective communicating with others.

In summary:

DISC is a wonderful tool that will give you loads of useful information about yourself and others.  Unless you incorporate that information into your day to day life, DISC won’t make much of a difference to you.  Follow these five principles to make DISC a success:

  1. Assume positive intent
  2. Control your personality or it will control you
  3. Work on, not in your areas of weakness
  4. Leopards don’t change their spots – learn to show grace to others
  5. Your greatest strength is also your greatest weakness

Additional resources

Thanks for reading this article on ‘Without these 5 principles the DISC personality tool is useless.’  Below are additional resources from Professional Leadership Institute, the global provider of online human resources and leadership tools:

Trevor Throness is a speaker, consultant, and author of “The Power of People Skills.”  He is also co-founder and senior instructor at Professional Leadership Institute.

Find more about “The Power of People Skills” book.


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