The Do’s & Don’ts of DiSC
DiSC learning experience is designed to deepen the learner’s understanding of themselves and others. The ultimate goal is that this new level of understanding and self-awareness improves their relationships and their (workplace) performance in a variety of contexts.
But achieving this powerful impact requires the appropriate use of DiSC. 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 article gives some guidelines for how DiSC should—and shouldn’t—be used so you and your organization can get the most out of your experience.
An excuse for poor behavior: It can be tempting to excuse bad habits or an unwillingness to adapt and stretch outside behavioral comfort zones by blaming one’s DiSC style. But doing so results in missed opportunities to recognize destructive habits or behaviors and work toward improvement and growth.
If you’re familiar with DiSC, it’s possible you’ve heard comments like, “Robert’s a D-style, so you just have to deal with how blunt he 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 DiSC stands for.
Categorizing people or making snap judgments on individuals: Arguably the most-common misuse of DiSC is “labeling” a person based on their DiSC style. But labeling a person or their abilities based on DiSC style can cause unfair generalizations and stereotypes. 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 behavioral tendency doesn’t mean they cannot stretch. It just may be more uncomfortable or take more of their energy.
Apply a framework for understanding behavioral tendencies: Learners have a new way to organize and think about their own behavior 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.
Instill 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.
These are just some of the ways DiSC should and shouldn’t be used in the workplace (or in general). DiSC gives us a framework for understanding behavior, 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 an 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.
This blog content belongs to Everything DiSC, a Wiley brand.