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Submitted by donm on


I took my DISC profile yesterday. The only thing that surprised me was that my D was higher than my S. What did NOT surprise me was that my I was maximum.

So, that leads me to the obvious question: Why is the "i" in DISC not capitalized? After all, for us High-I types, "I" is not only our favorite letter, it is also our favorite subject?

I hereby propose that the new spelling be "dIsc"


4 7 3 1 (the I is only a 7 because they don't let it go to 10)

mattpalmer's picture

The 'i' in DISC is lowercase just to remind all the high-Is of the world that it isn't *all* about them.

donm's picture
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Thanks for the comment, Matt. You do realize that it is futile to attempt to deflate an I's ego, don't you? Even the Borg gave up on assimilating me.

I actually have a serious follow-up, though, as the subject states: What does the DISC evaluate?

I have listened to the related podcasts; the "simple failures" podcasts several times. I am very uncertain how to use DISC beyond simple communications interactions. Perhaps that is all that DISC is meant to be: a tool for easing communications.

When I took the profile assessment, my "C" was nearly zero. Now, in my line of work, I have to be completely C-conscious. I work with power electronics, and if one misses even the smallest detail, things can go very wrong, very quickly. Electrical explosions are not known for giving a lot of prior warning, and the area of impact around an uncontrolled fault resembles the aftermath of a chemical explosion (think "hand grenade"). The podcasts relate C to engineers, and I agree wholeheartedly that C-behavior is demanded of engineers and researchers.

So, what does the profile actually examine? It is certainly not behavior, as illustrated above. M&M make it very clear in their podcasts that DISC is not about personality. The questions on the profile examination asked about communication style, so that's how I answered them. As a side note, had it been about personality, my results would have been 1711; I sometimes wonder why narcissism was named after Narcissus and not me.

When the podcasts discuss DISC, they often use examples where DISC relates to behavior, not merely communications. For example, they state that a High-I tends to start things and not finish them. I will freely admit that not finishing is my personal tendency, but I have overcome this by always setting myself deadlines for task completion. I always make my deadlines. I relate my penchant for not-finishing to my "new toy" fascination; once the "new" wears off, I want to go find the newest, latest and greatest toy. I counter this by forcing myself to complete the old-toy task before I allow myself the new toy. I "D" myself into it.

Lastly, I have a large percentage of my directs and other juniors who have nearly zero real-world experience when they start with our company. Note again our field of power electronics. Were I not to be D-like in many of my one-on-one encounters (not MT-type O3's; personal interactions on the job site), it is quite possible my junior members would make dangerous and deadly mistakes. I cannot allow for unclear instructions or directives to imperil the person or the eqiupment. Therefore, when assigning on-site tasks, I'm very direct and very clear. I also force my direct to repeat back to me his understanding of the instructions just given so that I can be certain he understands exactly what he is to do and that he is aware of the risks and hazards involved. This is completely D-like behavior and communications.

I have taken other DISC style assessments, and always score mid-range or higher on the S-type characteristic. In fact, on the M-T, my S is lower than it has ever been evaluated. I'm not even certain what the S is, even after the podcasts. Maybe it is empathy, as that's the closest I can come to realizing its meaning in my head.

So, again, what is the DISC profile actually measuring? To me, this is like having a metric that is not understood by one who needs to meet a certain milestone. "Your fraclent quotient is below expectations. You're going to have to recamfeltate to bring it into alignment."

mattpalmer's picture

My DISC profile (7114) very accurately describes the way I behave when I'm not thinking about behaving, and just "reacting".  When I need to, though, I can be very people-oriented (OK, "sorta people-oriented" might be more accurate), and I *can* see a complex thing through to completion rather than always getting distracted by the new shiny -- but it takes conscious effort and "mind hacks" to make it happen.

You're describing much the same thing in your post, Don.  You describe "willing" yourself to complete something before trying something new (although that's an S, or perhaps C, trait, not a D trait -- trust me on that one).  Similarly, you recognise the need to act differently when giving your subordinates directions in a safety-critical environment, and are capable of doing so.  The difference is that you need to think about it and consciously act that way to achieve the right outcome, whereas someone whose DISC profile was different would naturally behave that way.

To take another personal example: I'll bet that when you're at a gathering of people (like a party, or an industry gathering), you're automatically smiling at people, shaking hands, and making smalltalk.  You don't think about it, you just naturally behave like that.  I, on the other hand, do not -- but I still participate in those sorts of events.  I have to recognise I'm not being effective and consciously change my behaviour, whereas it's completely natural and unplanned behaviour for others.

Dani Martin's picture
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Hi Donm -- DISC is all about behavior. Your profile describes how you tend to behave when you're not thinking about how you're behaving. When you're just "being you." However, we can all behave any way we want if we think about it first.

And notice that no one ever has a score with a 0 in it. That's because we all have some of all four styles. You're not incapable of paying attention to details -- as you mention, it's a large part of your role. You're also capable of displaying D-like behavior (being direct when giving instructions). If I were to observe you for a while, I'd likely see behaviors in all 4 styles. And I'd see a prevalence of I-like behaviors, thus indicating you're a High I.

Hope this helps!