The DISC profile system, first conceived by William Moulton Marston in the 1920s, identifies four different personalities, each with its own set of strengths and limitations. It was the industrial psychologist Walter Clarke who began assessing people’s DISC profiles for the purposes of recruitment. That was in the 1950s. The four DISC profiles, or “styles” as they’re called today, are Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance. They remain useful for hiring staff, but their potential reaches far beyond that.
A company that embraces DISC assessments can rapidly improve workplace culture, enhance employee morale, increase productivity and boost business. How? Primarily through emotional intelligence (also known as EQ). As a reminder, this differs from cognitive intelligence by focusing on self-awareness and the awareness of others. It’s about introspection and empathy and using those qualities to interact successfully with people around us.
In today’s fast-paced world, it’s easier said than done to always be mindful of oneself and aware of others. The good news is, DISC assessments help people enhance their EQ naturally, which can lead to happier, more successful working lives and private lives.
DISC and EQ Hand in Hand
DISC assessments make emotional intelligence easier because they pre-empt the emotions and responses in colleagues and employees without us having to decipher them ourselves, either visually or audibly. As EQ improves, these signs become more natural to read in strangers. The propensity to dismiss people and be judgemental about them shrinks, and that’s good for mental wellbeing.
Emotionally intelligent managers and HR professionals can interact more effectively with staff through the use of a DISC system. They gain more respect from employees who are increasingly motivated in their jobs. Work culture improves as everyone in the company acquires empathy for one another.
DISC-assessed employees become more effective at dealing with customers, too, thanks to their evolving self-knowledge and perception of others. Just becoming aware of this form of intelligence is enough to make many people want to improve at it. And EQ is more straightforward to enhance than innate cognitive intelligence, the type measured as IQ.
Battle of the Brain
DISC tests revolutionise businesses and have a positive effect on individuals by increasing their self-awareness and understanding of others. The emotional intelligence that results is much more than just a buzz phrase, too; it’s an ability to overcome and control one part of the brain with another.
Most vital cerebral activity comes from the frontal lobe of the brain, the control panel. This is where we solve problems, learn languages, store memories, make decisions, and it powers our motor function. Notably, it’s also where impulse control takes place. Now, consider the limbic system.
The limbic system creates our “fight or flight” responses and makes us act impulsively. It’s a primal side of the brain that kicks in quickly. Sometimes it might produce good outcomes, such as when people instinctively save someone else’s life without first pondering the risks. But non-thinking, reactive behaviour can be problematic when we communicate with others.
DISC tests are humbling since inevitably they uncover weaknesses as well as strengths. The results help participants to see themselves, perhaps for the first time, and they encourage acceptance of others. So, how might people change their behaviour after a test?
Making the Most of DISC
Having taken a DISC assessment and learned about themselves and others, people may enact their EQ in several ways:
- Respond rather than react. Take time to listen first rather than interject impulsively. Think about a response before verbalising it.
- Listen to what is being said and look for nonverbal emotional signs. Use such signals to help inform a response.
- Avoid becoming defensive in the face of criticism. Look for underlying reasons and respond constructively. Allow freedom of expression.
- Be neither aggressive nor passive; convey ideas assertively and confidently while maintaining respect for others.
- Be positive and motivated and actively maintain these traits (especially managers). EQ relies to some extent on a healthy psychological state.
- Cultivate and show empathy for others. At all costs, avoid negative, knee-jerk responses in the form of dismissive, disparaging or judgemental comments.
Emotional intelligence is sometimes accused of being manipulative in the wrong hands or stressful to sensitive individuals who might overburden themselves with the emotions of others. But when a whole workforce is DISC-assessed, employees are better assured of finding roles and responsibilities that enable them to thrive and be happy.