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The D.I.S.C. Behavioural Profile

Throughout the ages, Man has been trying to explain the behaviour of their counterparts.  Back in 444 B.C., the Empodocles believed that people would behave in a certain way when they got into contact with different elements like Earth, Air, Fire or Water.  The Hippocrates, however, believed that it is the type of fluids that flowed in a person which determines how he/she will behave – cold or warm, fast or slow moving fluids – giving rise to Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic and Melancholic types of personality.  In 1921 Carl Gustav Jung introduced four different types of psychological types of personality: Thinking, Feeling, Sensation and Intuition that affects a person’s behaviour.  Finally in 1926, William M. Marston invented the Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance (D.I.S.C.) personality system, which has benefited many organisations in better understanding their most valuable asset – their people.

Why D.I.S.C?

In the market, there are many different personality systems that can be used to explain the behaviours, so why D.I.S.C.? Firstly, D.I.S.C. is straightforward, and its simplicity renders it easy to understand and to apply. Secondly, with its longstanding track record, D.I.S.C. has been tested and proven to work. Thirdly, and most importantly, the premise of D.I.S.C. is that behaviours can be altered and this encourages people to learn to modify their behaviours after understanding their strengths and weaknesses, in order to leverage on their strengths and minimise their weaknesses. 
Briefly, the different types of personality identified by Dr. Marston are: Dominance – people who are results oriented, direct and decisive Influence – people who are interactive, influencing and sociable Steadiness – people who are stable, steady and secure
Compliance – people who are compliant, correct and controlled

Understanding personality styles can and has helped many organisations, both large and small, in many areas.

Job Placement

The D.I.S.C. system has helped many companies to place the right type of people at the right job.  For example, you may not want someone who is of the "D" personality type (who tend to be very direct and task oriented, and may be impatient) to be your customer service officer.
"I" and "S" type people who are more people-oriented may be more suited for this position.

Building a Team

To build an effective team, it is usually good to have people of different personality types to work together, so that the team dynamics would be more all-rounded.  The "D"s will direct the actions, the "I"s will motivate the team-mates, the "S"s will ensure that the targets are realistic and the "C"s will look at proper documentation and compliance to policies and regulations.


Using a banana to entice a cat to come out from the closet will likely yield little result. Similarly, understanding what motivates different people can help organisations motivate their staff with other than just monetary rewards.  Type "D" people look for positions of authority, "I"s tend to appreciate public approval and praises, "S"s greatly treasure family and relationships, they will do almost anything if they know that you care about them.   The "C"s, on the other hand, need to be complimented on their almost perfect work.


In effective communication, we do not just need to give clear instructions.  We also have to understand what people selectively listen to.  Dominant people go straight to the point, and may not require many details to carry out a request. Influence type people will take the chance to talk to you about work, colleagues, family, hobbies, and the day’s news and may forget about why he/she was asked to do the task, if they still remember to do it.  "S" types need to have specific instructions with clear areas of responsibilities to get into action and "C" types need to know exactly why certain things have to be done and how it will affect the third and fourth generation.

Conflict Resolution/ Prevention

Understanding how another colleague thinks and works can help to resolve conflicts and prevent misunderstandings. A "D" person may never know that he is driving his subordinates too hard, an "I" person may not know that he is driving his "C" colleague crazy by passing her stacks of messy scribbles to be entered into the computer.

While profiling instruments are useful for greater understanding of oneself and other around, there are a few things we must bear in mind with regards to such profiles.

Firstly, no one or set of personality types is superior to the others. It’s all about placing the right people in the right environments.

Secondly, personalities do evolve with time and environment or a conscious decision to change. Any profiling system can only serve as a guide to predict a person’s behaviour.  We all possess the God-given ability to choose how we want to react in any given circumstance.  A change in personality can take place in as little as 3 weeks!  We can also manage our behaviour by teaming up with the right people, and by adjusting our behaviour to suit the people we are dealing with.

Thirdly, most profiling instruments available in the market are based on self-assessment, i.e. getting the subject to fill up a self-perception questionnaire, therefore, the instruments delivered in this way measure the self-perception of the subject, and there is a possibility for the participant to answer the questionnaire according to the personality that he/she wishes to exhibit.

Lastly, profiling instruments in the market, which are not delivered by trained psychologists and doctors, are intended for people under normal circumstances.  To measure behaviour of people under special or extreme circumstances, we may need to seek professional help from psychologists or doctors.

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you may publish this article on your website in its original condition but not use it in any other way without the written permission from the author. Singapore Teambuilding – team building activites specialist

This Personal Development article was written by Alvin Quah on 9/13/2005

Alvin Quah, a certified behavioral analyst(in business consulting perspectives), who is registered with the Institute for The Motivational Living, Inc, USA. He is based in Singapore can be contacted through the website: