There’s a scene from the Big Bang Theory where Penny asks Sheldon to teach her physics. He begins with “It’s a warm summer night in ancient Greece . . .” so I figured I’d start there too.
The ancient Greeks thought that a person’s personality was influenced by “humours” which were a variety of different fluids in the body. A Choleric was driven, a Sanguine was outgoing, a Melancholy was critical and a Phlegmatic was calm.
We still see that each individual has an inborn temperament type which has been codified in many ways; one of which is the DiSC test. This test or survey asks how you react to a variety of situations in life and by your answers determines which is your primary temperament type and which is your backup or secondary type. 95% of individuals are a blend of two types though a few people are a blend of three types.
So your company or maybe a company you want to work for has said you will take a DiSC test and you are freaked out. Too often there is not enough explanation of what the test does and how the results are used and, honestly, the results can sometimes be mis-used.
To start, the D in DiSC is the driven Choleric, the i (which stands for “influencing of others”) is the outgoing Sanguine, the S is the calm, steady Phlegmatic and the C is the conscientious, analytical Melancholy.
So what’s if for and how will it be used and how can you be assured how the results will be used?
Typically the DiSC is used in team building or possibly in hiring decisions. If a workgroup is having issues then the DiSC may help uncover trends in behavior that are due to temperament. If a sales role is being filled then HR may utilize the DiSC to look for hard-driving Choleric (D) types.
What many people that use the DiSC don’t realize is that temperament is only one aspect of overall personality. In other words, inborn temperament is the foundation but temperament plus all life experience equals personality.
So at a foundational level the DiSC is inherently harmless BUT how the results are used may NOT be harmless.
In my next post I’ll deal with how you can utilize the results in your own self-development, how people “game” the test, and how to avoid being pigeon-holed by the results.
Questions? Just add them in the comments or email me at halwarfield(at)gmail(dot)com.