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The Dos & Don’ts of DiSC

Updated: Jun 11

This post was originally published by Everything DiSC as part of their Insights to Action series of blogs. The original can be viewed here.

It’s been a while since our last DiSC® Basics blog series instalment—but with unexpected world events and challenges in the mix, we had to be flexible with our content plan. And that’s okay! Plans change. Life happens. We all adapt.

In case you missed it, here’s a nice little refresher on what we’ve covered in our DiSC Basics series so far.

Navigating the DiSC Model – We realize that a lot of people might hear “Everything DiSC®” and have no idea what it even is or does (conversely, if they do know of DiSC, they might not understand the history and validity behind it). With this in mind, let’s talk about Everything DiSC theory—explained in a way that is clear, thoughtful, and concise.

Calling All Skeptics: A Look into DiSC Research – What sets DiSC apart from other personality assessments out there? It’s a long list, but our foundation of research is at the very top! We explain why the Everything DiSC assessment-based learning experiences are deemed useful and accurate through the Validation process.

Why Our Circumplex Model is Sp(here) to Stay – At Everything DiSC, we’ve dedicated ourselves to making our DiSC assessment as intuitive and user-friendly as possible. This includes the visual representation of each individual’s assessment results within the DiSC map. Read more to learn about how our signature circumplex was designed to help learners recognize and retain information with ease!

And now, we’re back to close out this series with guidelines for how DiSC should—and shouldn’t—be used to ensure an optimal experience for everyone involved. Let’s jump in. 

Each Everything DiSC learning experience is designed to deepen the learner’s understanding of themselves and others. Ultimately, this new level of understanding and self-awareness improves their relationships and their (workplace) performance in a variety of contexts.

It’s true that Everything DiSC has the power to be a culture catalyst by starting each learner on the path from personalized insights to true behaviour change. But achieving this powerful impact requires the appropriate use of DiSC in the workplace. While DiSC is a tool that supports a variety of social and emotional contexts in the workplace, it’s possible to misuse the tool. This post is designed to summarize some of those potential misuses so you and your organization can get the most out of your experience.

Arguably the most common misuse of DiSC is “pigeonholing” a person based on their DiSC style. Pigeonholing happens when a person is, or their abilities are limited or dismissed based on their DiSC style, resulting in unfair stereotypes or generalizations. For example, “You can’t take an i-style seriously—the workplace is all fun and games!” or, “All C-styles get too bogged down in the details to see the big picture.” Just because a person prioritizes a certain behavioural tendency doesn’t mean they cannot stretch. It just may be more uncomfortable or take more of their energy.

There can also be a tendency to want to use DiSC as an excuse for poor behaviour, and a reason not to adapt. If you’re familiar with DiSC, it’s possible you’ve heard comments like, “Kelly’s a D-style, so you just have to deal with how blunt she is!” Or maybe, “It’s my i-style...I just have to speak my mind.”  Unfortunately, these types of statements often wind up stunting development and encouraging stereotypes, which is the antithesis of what Everything DiSC stands for.

The reality is that the behaviour of people with the D, i, S, or C style does not all look the same across the board. There is a lot of variation, even within one DiSC style. That’s why it’s so important to use DiSC as a dialogue tool to better understand how your DiSC style influences (or doesn’t influence) the way you work.

So, how do we avoid some of these common pitfalls and ensure that we’re getting the most out of a DiSC learning experience? What are the dos and don’ts around how people should use DiSC in their everyday work lives? To not only have a positive impact on their company culture but simply experience a better day? There are many “rules” we could share, but for now, we’ve developed a shortlist of each below:

Everything DiSC Dos

Apply a framework for understanding behavioural tendencies: Learners have a new way to organize and think about their own behaviour as well as that of others. DiSC can illuminate learners’ patterns to help predict and navigate relationships more effectively.

Use as a conversation catalyst to get to know, adapt to, and value others: DiSC can be used as a jumping-off point to build relationships and maximize each interaction. It builds empathy for others, knowing that the powerful insights learned about oneself are just as true and powerful for others—regardless of how different they might be from your own.

Instil a common language in an organization: DiSC gives a common language to complex, sometimes sensitive topics. It’s simple without being simplistic and offers pragmatic, actionable ways to better connect and collaborate.

Everything DiSC Don’ts

An excuse for poor behaviour: It can be tempting to excuse bad habits or an unwillingness to stretch outside behavioural comfort zones by blaming one’s DiSC style. But doing so results in missed opportunities to recognize destructive habits or behaviours and work toward improvement and growth.

Categorizing people or making snap judgements on individuals: Once we learn about DiSC styles, it might be tempting to label (aka pigeonhole) our colleagues. But pigeonholing a person or their abilities based on DiSC style can cause unfair generalizations and stereotypes. As outlined earlier, just because a person prioritizes a certain behavioural tendency doesn’t mean they cannot stretch—it just may take a little extra effort.

These are just some of the ways Everything DiSC should and shouldn’t be used in the workplace (or in general).DiSC gives us a framework for understanding behaviour, but the real value of DiSC is not in simply knowing a person’s DiSC style—it goes much deeper than that.

The real magic happens when DiSC becomes part of an organizational culture where people have open dialogue about their priorities and preferences and use DiSC as a springboard for discussion. This dialogue is an opportunity to learn more about a person’s style, and then figure out ways to adapt to their needs. Because DiSC is used as a catalyst for conversation—versus a tool to categorize people—it becomes more about growing and building effective working relationships. Beyond this, learners are empowered to take what they learn from DiSC and stretch outside their comfort zone, manage their team more effectively, or actively improve their emotional intelligence, depending on which solution is being applied. And that’s when we see real, lasting growth for organizations and individuals alike.

Everything DiSC, with its award-winning Authorized Partner network, is a global leader in delivering personalized, soft skills learning experiences that have an immediate and lasting impact on the performance of people and cultures of organizations. 

To discover how Everything DiSC can deepen understanding of self AND others, inspire collaboration and ignite cultural transformation in your workplace, connect with your Everything DiSC Authorized Partner, DISCGB.

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