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  • Vanessa Barajas, MPH

Understanding DISC Behavior Styles in the Workplace

We are all unique, wonderful, powerful people and we each express our uniqueness through our behaviors. Our habitual behavior can be observed and grouped into four main groups. In the 1920s, the DISC assessment was created from psychologist William Moulton Marston’s research that measured how people rank in four behavioral styles: dominant, influencer, steady, and conscientious. We use all of them at least some of the time, but most people tend to stick to one of them. Paying attention to which behavior style your teammates gravitate toward can improve your interpersonal skills, build trust, and help you get more done with less hassle.



Dominant

They are also known as “the winner”. People who have a dominant style tend to place a strong emphasis on shaping the environment and overcoming opposition to accomplish results. They prefer to think about the big picture and leave implementation details to others. Patience and sensitivity are within a dominant communicator’s grasp, but require some effort. They are often described as direct and demanding, strong-willed, driven, and determined.They fear being seen as vulnerable or being taken advantage of.


Influencer

They are also known as “the enthusiast”. People with the influencer style tend to place an emphasis on shaping the environment by influencing or persuading others. They prioritize taking action, collaboration, and expressing enthusiasm and are often described as warm, trusting, optimistic, enthusiastic, and convincing. They may struggle with being objective and following through on tasks. They fear loss of influence, disapproval, being ignored, or rejection.


Steady

They are also known as “the peacekeeper”. People who have a steady style tend to place an emphasis on cooperating with others within existing circumstances to carry out a task.They are motivated by cooperation, opportunities to help, and sincere appreciation. They prioritize giving support, collaborating, and maintaining stability and are often described as calm, patient, predictable, deliberate, stable, and consistent. They may struggle with displaying self-confidence and revealing their true feelings. They fear change, loss of stability, offending others, and letting people down.


Conscientious

They are also known as “the analyst”. People who have a conscientious style tend to emphasize working conscientiously within existing circumstances to ensure quality and accuracy. They are motivated by opportunities to gain knowledge, show their expertise, and produce quality work. They prioritize ensuring accuracy, maintaining stability, and challenging assumptions. They are often described as careful, analytical, systematic, diplomatic, accurate, and tactful. They may struggle with acknowledging the fear of others, and looking beyond data. They fear criticism, being wrong and strong displays of emotion.


Here are some tips for navigating these behavior types:


  • With those who have a dominant style, don’t take bluntness or impatience personally and when approaching them, get right to business.

  • With an influencer it’s best to put details and facts in writing for them to refer back to after a verbal conversation and allow them to express their ideas.

  • With people who have a steady style, acknowledge a recent contribution they’ve made and try to avoid rushing them into making a decision.

  • With conscientious people, provide as many details as possible upfront and give them time to produce the high quality of work they desire.


If you would like to know your behavior type, simply search online for the DISC assessment where you can find several variations of the assessment. Knowing the four behavior types can really help explain some of the similarities and differences between us, and utilizing your knowledge of behavior types can transform your relationships. It’s a way of staying “I see you for who you are, and I’ve got your back.”

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