Here are five sure-fire ways to irritate other people using the DISC model of human behavior:
- Tell them how they're feeling or what they're thinking.
- Explain to them why they did what they did or said what they said.
- Decide for them what they will want from a given situation.
- Analyze them and their behaviors.
- Help them to be more like you.
I could continue with the list, but I'm sure you see the point. Any time we do any of the above using the DISC model, we are using the model as a weapon against the other person rather than as a tool to understand them more completely.
I teach the DISC model. I use the DISC model. I like the understanding it gives me of people with other viewpoints and perspectives. And, I recognize that it only reveals general patterns of behavior that apply to populations of people rather than absolutes that apply to individuals.
The model and the terms used as descriptors in the model come from statistical averages of population behaviors and perspectives. Using it to define, label, or box-in another person violates one of the first things I learned in my college statistics class:
Never use a population statistic to describe an individual observation.
I encourage you to learn how to understand other people. I even encourage you to study the DISC model as a simple way to learn how to see the world from another person's perspective. I strongly discourage anyone from using the model as a weapon to harm, judge, or manipulate others.
Troy Norris [email protected] says
That’s what I said Guy !! The delicious illusion of the complete categorization of people around us is very attractive. I understand the need and desire to feel you ‘know’ everyone who works with you and/or for you, but the DISC model is too vague. Human beings MUST require more categories than 4. No? Are we sure we are taking everything into account when we give this test to someone? Isn’t it possible we are forcing them to fit into one of the 4 categories? Then making all our decisions that affect our relationship with that person through the filters we setup after reading their DISC assessment? That seems like a fail to me. When I look back at the beginnings of DISC testing and human assessment for business purposes, I start to see an industry that created the perception of need for, then filled the need for, ‘Maximum employee categorization’. So you would know which person is a better salesman than accountant or whatever.. But does that really mean the test approved salesman is really a better salesman than the test approved accountant guy?
What do you think?
Guy Harris says
Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.
To fully address your questions will take more room than is appropriate in the comments section. So, I’ll give a brief reply and then address your questions more fully in a post or two over the next few days.
My quick answer is this: yes, I think you can use four basic descriptors as a starting point to understand other people’s perspectives. And, no, I don’t think it is fair or reasonable to use broad categories to define, box-in, or categorize an individual person. The problem does not lie with the model. Rather, it lies with people using the model wrongly.
As I said, I’ll go into the full answer in a post (more likely a series of posts), but I will say here that the DISC model is merely a tool. It is a valid tool. It is a useful tool. It is a helpful tool. It can help you understand another person’s point of view. It cannot fully define another person. When it is used to understand people, it is a tool. When it is used to define the limits of what a person is capable of or not capable of, it becomes a weapon. The difference between a weapon and a tool is in the user not in the tool.
Guy Harris says
I created a post with a video to further explain my answer to Troy’s question.
DISC FAQ’s: Can Four Styles Really Describe Everyone?
Troy – great question and thanks for asking!