Decreasing stress and increasing productivity must be two of the Holy Grails of life. In business, stress is a major contributor to less-than-optimal productivity. Typically, this stress arises from 3 main causes:

  1. Interpersonal conflict
  2. Lack of felt appreciation
  3. Poor job fit.

But business certainly isn’t the only place in life that stress and productivity are factors. When you think of it, all of life is open to stress and made more fruitful by productivity. What productivity looks like in relationships in my family may look very different to productivity in my workplace, but it is as significant. And stress is quite obviously a possibility in every part of our life.

So I thought I would spend some blogs reflecting on a tool we can use to model human behaviour. Because, if we can do that, we can shed significant light on all three of the above problems and garner a host of other benefits. Teachers can know their students better, adding to their capacity to tailor education to the individual. Parents can more effectively demonstrate appreciation for they children. We can recognise that there are no ‘wrong people for the job’, just ‘wrong jobs for the people’.

There is nothing new about DISC as a model of human behaviour. I’ve been using it for over 20 years in multiple facets of my life, and it is coming up for being a century since it was first conceived by William Marston, who also gave us Wonder Woman. And one can trace the idea back much further than that, through the older ideas of connecting personality traits to the perceived preponderance of particular bodily fluids in a person.

I was sufficiently impressed with the initial success of applying what I learned through my early reading of Dr Robert Rohm that my wife and I  have moved through the 3 certification levels of using and training others in this model with Personality Insights. It is not simply something I use in a formal way, through personality modelling instruments for example, but, to a far greater extent, it has come to be part of my antennae array, a means we all have of constantly filtering our environment, helping us to navigate through life.

DISC looks at people’s behaviour preferences along two axes, outgoing/reserved and task/people focused, and the blends that their particular predilections create. And that’s important – we are all a blend of characteristics. We must not place a positive or negative on any characteristic, simply aim at understanding. And the benefits of this understanding are legion.

For example; I am a teacher and I love what I do. It doesn’t bother me to be in front of people – I really find it difficult to relate to the idea that people fear public speaking more than they fear death. Because of this I can come across as outgoing and people focused – an extrovert if you like, although that is a rather less precise category than those provided by DISC. As a consequence, for years, if I was feeling emotionally drained, my gorgeous wife, who really is fast paced and task focused, would organise gatherings with other people to energise me.

The fact that I like people and doing things with them masked for a very long time that spending time like this really didn’t energise me at all. It wasn’t until I took a sophisticated DISC modelling assessment that it started to come to light that, while I am strongly people focussed, I am quite reserved. I love school, but it exhausts me. So doing more of the same sort of thing just adds to the exhaustion.

I’ve learned that I recharge emotionally by spending time with a very limited number of people, mainly close family, and doing solo things like reading. And reflecting back, it makes sense of my behaviour at parties. Typically, within 30 minutes, I am engaged in an extended conversation with one other person, or I am on the periphery not really talking to anyone. And you know the ‘sitting at long tables for dinner with lots of people all being loud’ type of events? I suffer through those.

So, over the next few weeks I want to very briefly reflect on each of the quadrants created by the two axes of outgoing/reserved and task/people focused. Because I really believe that this has been one of the most useful tools I’ve been able to add to my toolbox for successful life.



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