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Personality Types and DISC

Two Personality Axes

Human personalities are highly varied and complex, and the full DISC system is designed to reflect that variation and complexity, but sometimes it can be useful to break down personalities into a few fundamental types.

We can do that with DISC because at it is based, at its deepest level, on a pair of simple personality axes. The first of these is a continuum between Assertiveness (pro-active, direct behaviour) and Receptiveness (responsive, reticent behaviour). The second describes a scale from Openness (sociability, expressiveness) and Control (reticence and caution). Taken together, these two axes form a grid, and by placing a personality somewhere on this grid, we can draw all sorts of useful conclusions.

This brief article discusses some of the key features of the eight most basic DISC personality types. If you want to look further into the theory behind the two axes, you'll find lots of background information in our Understanding DISC reference guide.

Four Personality Types, and Four More

Sometimes one of the four fundamental styles will predominate in a person's approach to life, and so we get our first four basic personality types: Assertive, Receptive, Open and Controlled.

Just as often, though, a personality will combine elements from two of the axes, so (for example) we'll find a person who's both Assertive and Open, or both Receptive and Controlled. There are four possible combinations like this, and together they give us another four personality types: Dominant, Influential, Steady and Compliant. (These latter four in fact give rise to the four DISC factors, and their initials give 'DISC' its name).

A Grid of Personality Types

We've laid out these eight below according to where they fall on the two major DISC axes. For each of the eight types you'll see a checklist describing the type of personality associated with that type; if you want to find out more about any of the types, just click the link for a more detailed DISC analysis.

You'll find more about these types, and about more specialised terms like 'Pressure' or 'Strategy', in Understanding DISC.

DISC Profile Shape: Dominant

Dominant

Efficient, self-motivated, independent

OverviewDirect, ambitious, competitive, demanding
ValuesResults
SeeksControl
AvoidsWeakness
PressureDictating
ApproachEfficient, responsive
StrategyPOWER
DISC Profile Shape: Assertive

Assertive

Self-motivated, independent, enthusiastic, self-confident

OverviewDirect, outgoing, ambitious, sociable
ValuesResults and attention
SeeksControl and approval
AvoidsWeakness or isolation
PressureDictating or attacking
ApproachFriendly, responsive
StrategyPOWER/PEOPLE
DISC Profile Shape: Influential

Influential

Friendly, enthusiastic, self-confident

OverviewOutgoing, sociable, gregarious, expressive
ValuesAttention
SeeksApproval
AvoidsIsolation
PressureAttacking
ApproachFriendly, receptive
StrategyPEOPLE
DISC Profile Shape: Controlled

Controlled

Efficient, self-motivated, accurate, sensitive

OverviewCautious, direct, self-reliant, objective
ValuesResults and procedure
SeeksControl and facts
AvoidsWeakness or uncertainty
PressureDictating or evasive
ApproachExact, efficient
StrategyPOWER/PROOF
Biaxial model
DISC Profile Shape: Open

Open

Friendly, self-confident, patient, persistent

OverviewSociable, trusting, gregarious, sympathetic
ValuesAttention and support
SeeksApproval and time
AvoidsIsolation or change
PressureAttacking or compromising
ApproachFriendly, supportive
StrategyPEOPLE/PROMISE
DISC Profile Shape: Compliant

Compliant

Co-operative, accurate, sensitive

OverviewCautious, precise, restrained, diplomatic
ValuesProcedure
SeeksFacts
AvoidsUncertainty
PressureEvasive
ApproachExact, detailed
StrategyPROOF
DISC Profile Shape: Receptive

Receptive

Patient, thoughtful, co-operative, accurate

OverviewCautious, amiable, calm, precise
ValuesSupport and procedure
SeeksTime and facts
AvoidsUncertainty or change
PressureEvasive or compromising
ApproachPatient, detailed
StrategyPROOF/PROMISE
DISC Profile Shape: Steady

Steady

Patient, thoughtful, persistent

OverviewAmiable, calm, generous, even
ValuesSupport
SeeksTime
AvoidsChange
PressureCompromising
ApproachPatient, supportive
StrategyPROMISE

Try the Approach App

Looking at personality types like this can give you some useful insights into your own personality, and it can be invaluable when dealing with other people. The Approach iPhone app uses just this model to help you hone your negotiation and sales skills.

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