How Disc Works

About Understanding DISC

Understanding DISC is a comprehensive reference source for the DISC personality profiling system. Here, you’ll find plenty of background about the theory, as well as practical features such as interpretations for common profiles.

Click the blue chapter headings here to jump to the different chapters withinUnderstanding DISC. Click ‘About Understanding DISC‘ for more information about using this Axiom electronic book.

I. The Theoretical Basis of the DISC System

The basic ideas behind the DISC profiling system reach back more than two thousand years. This chapter explains the history and development of DISC into its modern form, and explores the theoretical ideas that underpin the system.


‘Personality’ is a word with many different definitions – everybody has their own idea about exactly what it means, and there is probably no such thing as an absolute definition of the word. The purpose of this section is to define ‘personality’ purely in terms of the DISC profiling system.

At the core of this definition lie the ideas of stimulus and response. Sets of circumstances or individual events (stimuli) cause people to act or react (respond) to them. Different people, however, have different responses to particular stimuli. In any given situation, we can expect that different people will react in different ways. In DISC terms, behaviour is defined as the sum of all a person’s varying response styles to varying stimuli.

Of course, in practical terms, it is impossible to measure and evaluate every one of a person’s possible responses to every possible stimulus, and so different kinds of responses are grouped together into ‘traits’. A trait is a tendency to act in a certain kind of way when faced with a certain kind of situation. We will see many examples of different traits as we explore the DISC profiling system.

Note: In common use, the word ‘personality’ often includes a person’s skills and abilities in its definition. This is not the case as far as the DISC system is concerned. Factors such as ‘intelligence’, or skills such as ‘driving’ or ‘knowledge of zoology’, are not properly part of a person’s behaviour as far as DISC is concerned.


Blood, Bile and Phlegm

To the ancient Greeks, the ways in which a person behaved were an integral part of their general health. They believed that the body contained four fundamental liquids (called humours) based on the four elements of fire, air, water and earth. When one of these humours became dominant over the others, it was thought to effect the person’s mood and general approach.

The four humours, blood, yellow bile, phlegm and black bile, were each believed to be responsible for a different type of behaviour. An excess of blood made a person sanguine, yellow bile resulted in a choleric style, phlegm, naturally, produced a phlegmatic outlook, and black bile was associated withmelancholia.

These theories, first set down in a systematic way by Hippocrates, remained in use until the middle ages. We now know, of course, that they have no basis in medical fact, but what the Greeks had almost incidentally achieved was the first systematic method of describing individual types. So successful was their approach that, even today, the words ‘humour’ (meaning ‘mood’), ‘sanguine’, ‘phlegmatic’ and ‘melancholic’ are still in common use.

Thankfully, the DISC system does not rely on measuring the amount of yellow bile in a candidate to determine their behavioural style, but the ideas behind it can, indirectly, be traced back to Hippocrates’ theories.

Carl Gustav Jung

There are many modern theories of behaviour based on the idea of four factors. Perhaps the most influential of these is to be found in the work of the Swiss psychologist, Carl Gustav Jung. He defined individual behaviour as belonging to one of four different types; Sensing, Intuitive, Feeling and Thinking.

The definitions of these types are rooted in Jung’s lifelong work on the unconscious mind, and need not concern us here. They are important because they represent one of the first serious attempts to map the human psyche by a modern psychologist. Assessment tools based on Jung’s work are still available today.

It was Jung’s opinion that people instinctively understand behaviour in terms of a set of four elements (his four types being one example of such a set, and the four humours of the Greeks being another). These groups of four (technically called tetralogies) underlie a very large number of assessment techniques, and DISC is no exception.

The Emotions of Normal People

In the early 1920’s, an American psychologist named William Moulton Marston developed a theory to explain people’s emotional responses. Until that time, work of this kind had been mainly confined to the mentally ill or criminally insane, and Marston wanted to extend these ideas to cover the behaviour of ordinary individuals.

In order to test his theories, Marston needed some way of measuring the behavioural styles he was trying to describe. His solution was to develop his own technique to measure four important factors. The factors he chose were Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance, from which the technique takes its name – DISC.

Marston published his findings in a book entitled The Emotions of Normal People, which included a brief description of the system he had developed. From these humble beginnings, the DISC system has grown to become probably the most widely used assessment tool in the world.


This section introduces a new concept: the behavioural axis. An ‘axis’ in this sense is simply a continuum between two opposites. To illustrate, imagine an axis between the opposites ‘hot’ and ‘cold’, which might look something like the illustration opposite.

At the extremes of the axis are very hot and very cold temperatures, and as you move along the axis from one extreme to the other, a variety of different temperatures appear, each blending into the next.

A behavioural axis is very much like this. The opposite ends of the axis refer to two opposite ‘traits‘, and the axis itself represents the different shades and moods of the trait as we move from one extreme to another. There are as many possible behavioural axes as there are potential opposite pairs of traits, but most assessment systems use only a very few.

This is possible because, by choosing particularly appropriate axes, a very wide-ranging picture of different styles can be built up. Different assessment techniques use different axes, but the basic principle remains constant.

In DISC, two behavioural axes are used. These are the axis between Assertiveness and Receptiveness, and the axis between Openness and Control. The meanings of these terms, and the way they are used to construct a DISC profile, are explained in the next sections.


The first of the DISC ‘axes‘ lies between the opposites of Assertiveness and Receptiveness. This section discusses these two important elements.

While reading these discussions of Assertiveness and Receptiveness, bear in mind that we are discussing two opposite ends of an axis. Some people are more Assertive than others, for example, while others fall right in the middle of the axis (we might characterise such people as ‘even-tempered’). The Assertiveness/Receptiveness axis measures the ways in which people react to their environment, and specifically whether they take a pro-active or reactive approach.


Assertive people are pro-active and direct. They lead rather than follow, and like to take immediate action whenever they can. They believe in grasping opportunities and making their own way. Often independent and commanding, they prefer to give orders rather than take them, and will issue instructions rather than ask for cooperation.


The opposite of Assertiveness, Receptiveness describes people who are patient and cautious. They prefer to avoid taking risks, and rarely take definitive action unless the pressure to do so is unavoidable. They dislike change or surprise, and will seek calm, predictable situations.


The second of the DISC ‘axes‘ extends between Openness and Control, measures of a person’s social attitudes, and describe different approaches to interaction with other people. In this section we look at the two extremes of this axis.

While reading these discussions of Openness and Control, bear in mind that we are discussing two opposite ends of an axis. Some people are more Open than others, for example, while others fall right in the middle of the axis.


Extremely Open people are friendly, trusting and ingenuous. They express themselves easily and value strong relationships with other people. Open individuals tend to work on an emotional level, revealing their feelings to others and being ready to sympathise with those around them.


Controlled individuals are practical and somewhat cynical in style. They value hard facts and rational argument above emotional considerations, and prefer to follow their own ideas, rather than rely on other people. At times, they can be distrustful or suspicious, and will rarely volunteer information about themselves to other people.


The two ‘axes‘ of Assertiveness/Receptiveness and Openness/Control lie at the heart of the DISC profiling system. It might not, at first sight, be obvious how these two axes are related to the DISC profile, which, as we have already stated, contains four factors. This section endeavours to explain the connection.

Understanding DISC Axes A

The link between the axes and DISC is the so-called Biaxial Model (i.e. a model with two axes). This is formed by the two fundamental axes when placed at right angles to one another (see diagram, above). The result is a cross shape with four empty spaces between its arms. These spaces correspond to the four DISC factors, as shown below.

Understanding DISC Axes B

So, each of the four factors is defined as a meeting point between two of the axes. Dominance, for example, can be defined as Assertiveness and Control. That is, Dominant individuals will show aspects of Assertive and Controlled behaviour in their approach to life. The four factors shown on this diagram are the same four factors that are shown on a DISC graph.


After reading the preceding sections, you might be left with the impression that a DISC profile works by measuring the underlying behavioural ‘axes‘ , and then extrapolates the DISC factors. In fact, this is not normally the case. More commonly, DISC measures Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance directly. In these cases, the ‘Biaxial Model‘ provides a theoretical underpinning of the system, but is not used directly to derive the results.

Certain implementations of DISC, however, do assess the underlying axes directly. These generally produce results on a two-dimensional grid or wheel. From these results, a more conventional DISC graph can be calculated if necessary. For convenience, we have used the generic term ‘Style Card’ for these direct measurements of the underlying axes, and this is the subject of thenext chapter.


II. The Style Card

Some DISC systems not only generate DISC profiles, but also use the theory underlying the technique to generate a Style Card to summarise a person’s behaviour. This chapter looks at the way a Style Card is created, and how it can be used to its best effect.


‘Style Card’ is a generic term used to describe DISC systems which analyse individual styles by measuring the underlying ‘axes‘ , rather than measuring the four DISC factors directly. This approach builds up its results more quickly and easily than a full DISC profile, because it has only two factors to measure as opposed to four. Style Card question sets are often used by salesmen and other professional negotiators to maximise their impact and improve their negotiation skills, but, beyond this, the powerful Style Card technique offers insight into many aspects of interpersonal relations.

The Style Card Concept

This section describes the basic ideas behind the Style Card and explains how it relates to the ‘Biaxial Model‘ underlying the DISC theory.


The concept behind the Style Card is simple – the direct use of DISC’s underlying theory as a method of profiling in its own right. By directly assessing where a candidate lies on each of the two behavioural ‘axes‘, it is possible to plot their individual style as a point on a graph. There are a number of different ways of doing this, but the most common is to use a square divided into smaller squares, as shown in the diagram below.

Understanding DISC Style Axes

This grid of squares directly represents a candidate’s style in terms of the ‘Biaxial Model‘ – we can place a marker within the grid to indicate the type of the individual concerned. Very Open characters, for example, would have a marker to the right of the grid, while markers for more Receptive types would appear somewhere near the bottom. The corners of the grid represent combinations of traits – a marker in the top-left corner would relate to a style that incorporated elements of both Assertiveness and Control. Compare this with the seconddiagram shown under The Biaxial Model of DISC, and you will see that the top-left hand corner corresponds to the DISC factor of Dominance. This is no coincidence – the Style Card approach is effectively just a simpler method of describing DISC profiles.


Naming the Styles

Different combinations of factors are given different names within the Style Card system for ease of use. This section explains the naming conventions used with the Style Card, and provides a general overview of the different styles described.

 The simple grid arrangement used by most Style Card systems is not immediately intuitive, and most people take a while to grasp the ideas behind it. To help in this learning process, different areas of the grid are given descriptive names, and sometimes also coloured as a key to the style that they are associated with.
Style Card Colours The diagram on the left shows one possible way of dividing the grid more meaningfully. This is only one of many different approaches, but it gives a broad indication of how the Style Card concept can be more easily communicated. Each of the coloured areas on this grid relates to a different style. Notice that most of the coloured areas contain more than one grid square, because a number of related styles have been grouped together under one general heading. This gives only nine basic types to consider, instead of an unwieldy twenty-five.

Each of these sections is given a name deriving from the basic type of behaviour it describes. Naming conventions vary widely according to particular implementations of the Style Card idea, but those given here are fairly typical of the naming styles used by different systems.

The most important areas on the grid are the large sections at the four corners. Each of these contains four smaller squares, and relate to four basic types. They also, incidentally, relate directly to the four DISC factors, as we shall see later.

Driver: the top-left area, shown in red, describes behaviour containing both assertiveness and control. This section relates to the DISC factor of Dominance, and describes a direct, demanding type of person who is highly motivated to succeed and somewhat competitive in their dealings with others.
Communicator: to the top-right, the yellow area covers a combination of assertiveness and openness (relating to Influence in DISC terms). This type of person is communicative and sociable, being friendly and outgoing with other people and feeling at ease in strange company.
Planner: the bottom-right section of the grid, shown in green, describes a steady, amiable type of person and relates to the DISC factor of Steadiness. People of this kind are patient and persistent, dislike change, and like to take time to plan carefully before acting (hence the name of the style).
Analyst: the final area lies to the bottom-left of the grid and relates to the DISC factor of Compliance. It is coloured blue in the illustration above. Analysts, as people of this type are known, combine Control and Receptiveness, and are structured, organised individuals who tend to follow the rules whenever they can. They are interested in precision and order.

Between these four main sections of the grid, you will notice four intermediate areas, coloured orange, lime, turquoise and purple. These represent styles that combine elements of two of the main styles described above.

Assertive: the orange section lies between the red Driver type and the yellow Communicator type. Individuals lying in this area share the assertive element of both these types. In terms of openness and control, however, they lie between the two extremes, sometimes being friendly and open, while at other times being capable of more controlled behaviour.
Open: On the right-hand side of the grid, between the yellow Communicator and the green Planner, lies a lime-coloured section. Individuals that fall into this part of the grid are primarily open in style, defining themselves in social terms. They may be Assertive or Receptive in approach, however, depending on circumstances.
Receptive: to the bottom of the grid, between the Planner and the Analyst, lies a blue-green area dedicated to Receptive styles. These people are retiring and unobtrusive, and are reluctant to act unilaterally. They may be amiable in approach, or simply reserved and unresponsive, depending on their particular circumstances.
Controlled: the final intermediate area is the purple group to the left of the grid, between Analyst and Driver. As the name suggests, individuals of this type will be controlled and reluctant to provide information about themselves or their ideas. They may be Assertive or Receptive in approach, however, depending on the situation.
Balanced: the final element of the grid is the central square, shown white in the diagram. A balanced (sometimes called a ‘neutral’) style simply cannot be defined under this system. Their behaviour is likely to incorporate elements of all the main styles from time to time. The Balanced style is equivalent to a DISC ‘Compressed Profile‘.


Each of the Style Card segments describes different motivating factors for different styles. This section explains the factors (whether positive or negative) that will affect a person’s motivation.


One of the most useful applications of the Style Card technique is in describing a person’s motivators (and, correspondingly, their demotivators). This can help managers to adapt their style and approach to a particular individual. In a more specific sense, this information can also be useful in motivating an individual to choose a particular course of action.

Each of the four main types (Driver, Communicator, Planner and Analyst) have an associated set of motivators and demotivators, as outlined below.

Driver: Drivers are motivated by achievement and control. It is very important to them to feel that they are driving a situation (hence the name of the style) and they will consequently be more receptive if they feel in full control of a situation. Should they feel unduly pressured, they will be less likely to accept an idea, and they react particularly badly to direct orders, whatever their source.
Communicator: As you might expect from the name of this style, positive communication is the main motivator for this type of person. They will wish to develop a real rapport with a person before reacting to specific ideas or proposals. Rejection is a factor that they find difficult to accept, and if they do not feel completely comfortable with someone (a rare situation for a confident person of this type) they will be far less likely to respond positively.
Planner: Time is the main motivator of the Planning style. They dislike sudden change or interruption, and need time and patience to adapt to new situations. If they are forced into a position, they will react negatively – a more productive approach is to allow them to accommodate themselves to a suggestion in their own timescale.
Analyst: Fact and detail are the factors that Analysts seek out. They need to be able to understand the implications and probable effects of a proposal before they can come to accept it, and this means a precise and methodical approach. Being forced to act without fully understanding a situation is a profound demotivator for people of this type.

The four intermediate types, as you might expect, each combine the motivating factors of the two main styles between which they lie.

Assertive: Lying between the Driver and the Communicator, this type emphasises and extends the Driver’s desire for control into the field of social relations. Not only will the Assertive individual wish to build a strong relationship in order to feel motivated, but they will also wish to feel that they hold a distinctly dominant position within that relationship.
Open: Open styles combine elements from the Communicator and the Planner. This means that they will wish to take a patient, measured view of a situation, but they will also wish to maintain positive relations with others. This can lead to some potential problems as the Open individual tries to balance their own need for calm, long-term appraisal with other people’s demands for action.
Receptive: Receptive styles, incorporating elements of both the patient Planner and the factual Analyst, are especially reluctant to act without being entirely certain of their position. They need to feel that they are in command of all the facts, and that they can see all possible problems, before they can accept an idea or adapt effectively to a new situation.
Controlled: Lying midway between the Driver and the Analyst, the Controlled type assumes an attitude of control, and will respond negatively to any perceived attempt to undermine this position. Unlike the pure Driver, however, they will tend to adopt a formal, structured approach, attempting to enforce their desires through rules and authority, rather than through the forcefulness of their approach.

Pressure Responses

Under pressure, different styles will react differently from one another. In this ‘Pressure’ section, we explore these pressure reactions, and also take a look at the concept of the ‘Pressure Path’.


Different people respond to pressure in different ways. Knowing how a person will react under pressure can be extremely useful in guiding management decisions. Understanding when a person’s behaviour betrays feelings of pressure can also be extremely advantageous in a number of ways.

‘Pressure’ in this sense is defined as a short-term effect. The source of pressure will depend on the particular style in question. A Driver, for example, will feel pressured if they do not have direct control over a course of events, but this situation would cause little concern to, say, a Planner. For a discussion of the needs of different styles, see the section on Motivation.

There is a distinction in DISC between ‘pressure’ (a short-term effect rarely lasting more than a few days, resulting usually from outside factors) and ‘stress’ (a more long-term effect lasting months or even years, usually due to a combination of factors). To assess the more complex phenomenon of stress, it is necessary to examine a full DISC profile series. See the section on Stress for further details.

The reactions of the four main types to conditions of pressure are:

Driver: Because Drivers like to operate from a position of control, they use this as a basis for their pressure reaction. They will adopt a highly assertive, even aggressive, stance in the face of difficulties, dictating solutions and expecting immediate responses to their instructions.
Communicator: A Communicator’s natural response to almost any problem is to try to talk themselves out of it, and this approach underlies their pressure reaction. Placed under pressure, the Communicator will adopt a verbal attacking style, accusing others of causing problems, highlighting shortcomings in systems and other people, and generally laying blame.
Planner: Being a Receptive style, the Planner will try to avoid conflict and preserve relationships in a pressure situation. For this reason, their normal reaction will be to attempt to reach an equitable compromise solution. Because they are naturally sympathetic individuals, the Planner will usually try to see both sides of an argument or problem.
Analyst: Like the Planner, the Analyst will also wish to avoid coming into conflict with others. Their method of dealing with pressure, however, is more evasive in style. Analysts faced with a difficult situation will try to extract themselves from it by changing the subject, or making vague promises of action. In extreme cases, they can even go so far as to ignore the problem altogether, in the hope that somebody else will solve it.

The four intermediate types combine the pressure reactions of their associated main styles. An Assertive style, for example, lying between the Driver and the Communicator might use a dictating or an attacking response, or both, depending on the particular situation in which they find themselves. For convenience, their combinations of pressure responses are listed below.

Assertive: Dictating / Attacking
Open: Attacking / Compromising
Receptive: Compromising / Evading
Controlled: Evading / Dictating


Negotiation Strategies

Practical implementations of the Style Card concept often focus on its use in developing negotiation strategies. This section discusses the four main strategies associated with the technique; Power, People, Promise and Proof.


The Style Card’s method of looking at behavioural types is, as we have already mentioned, somewhat limited in comparison to a full DISC interpretation. Its very simplicity, however, conveys certain advantages. One of these is that it can be applied remotely (that is, without any direct input on the part of the person under consideration). Indeed, with practice, most people find that they are able to categorise people directly as Drivers, Communicators, Planners or Analysts.

Knowledge of an individual’s basic style can be extremely useful, especially during negotiation. We have already looked at the motivating factors for different individual styles. In this section, we summarise the optimum negotiation strategies for the four main styles.

Driver: Drivers relish control and authority. Whatever their situation, they will seek to dominate the proceedings, and this applies as much to negotiation as any other set of circumstances. To motivate them towards accepting an idea, therefore, it is important not to challenge this desire to dominate the negotiation, but to appear receptive and mildly submissive. By offering suggestions and hints, rather than attempting to directly control the Driver’s decision-making process, they can be made more receptive to a proposal. This approach is often referred to as the ‘Power’ strategy.
Communicator: Perhaps the most important thing to a Communicator is the building of positive relationships with other people. In a negotiation, therefore, it is important to build a social relationship with the Communicator if they are to be motivated towards accepting new ideas or proposals. A purely confrontational approach will, conversely, have a negative effect. Communicators are also interested in the experiences of other people, and discussions of the ways that a proposal has benefitted others in the past will also be of benefit. This technique is often called the ‘People’ strategy.
Planner: Planners are perhaps the most compromising and malleable of the four main types. Their desire to avoid conflict or confrontation, and their wish to maintain positive and supportive relationships, means that they are willing to accept assurances and guarantees that might arouse scepticism in other styles. Planners will require time to reach decisions, and should not be forced to a conclusion before they are ready. This is the ‘Promise’ strategy.
Analyst: An Analyst type will accept one thing and one thing alone – absolute proof that a proposal is sound. They will look into details and technicalities, and wish to explore issues of implementation and maintenance that other styles would quite possibly ignore altogether. It is vitally important that all of their questions are answered in full for them to feel motivated by a new idea. This is the so-called ‘Proof’ strategy.

If you have read through the preceding sections, you will understand the idea of the four intermediate types (Assertive, Open, Receptive and Controlled) combining the different aspects of their adjoining main styles. For example, an Open behavioural style, linked to both the Communicator and Planner styles, responds best to a combination of the People and Promise strategies. For convenience, the four intermediate styles and their appropriate combinations of strategies are listed below.

Assertive: Power / People
Open: People / Promise
Receptive: Promise / Proof
Controlled: Proof / Power



Suitability Comparison

The basic Style Card technique provides a useful model for examining human interaction. This section explores, in broad terms, the ways that different styles relate to one another.


The ways in which different styles interact with one another is a very broad and complex subject, and a full treatment of all the issues involved lies beyond the scope of this guide. Nevertheless, it is possible to make generalised comments describing the basic dynamics of different possible relationships.

For a comprehensive understanding of the ways in which two, or more, people interact, a full DISC profile is more appropriate than the broad Style Card approach. However, the simplicity of the Style Card, and its ability to break down individual approaches into only one of a few basic types, makes it more appropriate for the basic discussion of this section.

In this section, we look briefly at the ways in which each of the four main types of the Style Card interact with each other, a total of ten combinations. This information may prove useful in developing teams, or examining the interactions of individuals within departments.

Two Drivers: Because it is in the nature of a Driver to seek authority and dominance, any relationship between two individuals of this kind will inevitably contain a measure of tension, as each vies for the dominant position, and not unusually this tension can break out into open conflict. Drivers can generally only work well together if they have goals in common, and each has a defined area of authority.
Driver and Communicator: As with two Drivers, this is often a difficult pairing, as each is assertive and demanding of the other. Because the Driver is interested in material and business success, while the Communicator focuses on social success. This means that a Driver and Communicator can make an effective partnership if carefully guided by a manager.
Driver and Planner: This is an effective pairing purely in terms of results, because the Planner, as their name suggests, is capable of preparing detailed plans and carefully considering their implications, while the Driver possesses the thrusting, assertive approach needed to put these plans into effect. On a personal level, however, the degree of difference between these two styles often makes it difficult for them to respect one another’s abilities.
Driver and Analyst: This combination is often effective in a business sense. The Analyst’s ability to work with structure and detail, coupled with the drive and determinism of the Driving partner, mean that each style covers many of the other’s weaknesses. Both are Controlled in approach, and this often gives them enough common ground to develop a mutual respect, although this partnership will rarely be close in a personal sense.
Two Communicators: On a purely personal level, relations between Communicators tend to be good. The cheerful, outgoing style associated with the Communicators reacts to nothing so well as another person of the same type. On occasion, a sense of light-hearted competition can appear as they jostle for personal attention, but this rarely escalates into actual confrontation. The joviality and sense of fun connected with Communicator styles, however, means that such a pairing can have a negative impact on performance in purely business terms.
Communicator and Planner: This is generally a successful partnership. The Planner has the steady, reliable style to keep the Communicating partner from losing sight of their goals or intentions, while the Communicator has the social extroversion necessary to build a personal relationship. Under some circumstances, the Planning partner can become quite dependent on their more assertive team-member.
Communicator and Analyst: These are two diametrically opposed styles with entirely different sets of values, and hence it is often difficult for them to form an effective working relationship. Their relative skills and abilities, however, tend to complement each other well in a practical sense, and on the rare occasions where two people of these kinds are able to form a workable partnership, the results are often impressive.
Two Planners: Two solid, dependable and loyal individuals with open and sympathetic attitudes, a partnership of Planners will often work well together, and frequently form quite a strong bond. A potential problem here, however, is that each Planner’s need for time to consider and plan will be increased exponentially by attaching them to another with the same need. Ideas or plans can sometimes be exchanged and corrected between the two partners over a very long timescale indeed before any action is finally taken.
Planner and Analyst: A fairly effective and complementary partnership, but somewhat unpredictable. The fact that both styles are Receptive provides the foundation for a working relationship, but specific factors can sometimes work to undermine this (for example, the Planner might be looking for a strong personal tie, while the Analyst would have no particular interest in such a relationship).
Two Analysts: Analysts are not a naturally competitive style, and yet when two come into contact with one another, a type of competition can evolve. This normally consists of attempts on either side to demonstrate superior skills or knowledge. If they are able to overcome this tendency, however, Analysts can build a workable and productive team.



III. The Four Factors

Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance are the key factors in the DISC system. This chapter explores their meanings in detail, and also examines the ways in which they interact to produce the twelve standard DISC subtraits.


The results of a DISC questionnaire are usually presented in the form of a DISC Graph (or a set of graphs, known as a Profile Series). This chapter looks at the different types of DISC graphs available, the four DISC factors (Dominance, Influence, Steadiness and Compliance) and the twelve standard ‘sub-traits‘ that are derived from these four factors.

From Style Card to DISC Graph

This section explains the relationship of the ‘Biaxial Model‘ and the Style Card to the standard DISC Graph. You will find this particularly helpful if you have read through chapters I and II and are interested in the direct connections between the underlying theory and the DISC profile itself.

Principles of DISC Profiling

In order to produce a set of DISC results, it is of course necessary to objectively assess an individual’s behavioural style. The range of techniques available for achieving this are growing and diversifying, but there are certain principles that remain standard in any DISC questionnaire. This section examines these underlying ideas.

The Basics of DISC Graphs

Most DISC profiling systems provide three standard DISC profiles, each of which goes by various names. This section explains the meanings of these three profiles, and their relationships to one another.

D for Dominance

The first of the four DISC factors is Dominance, abbreviated to D. This section gives a description of the Dominance factor.

I for Influence

Influence (abbreviated to I) is the second of the four factors. In this section, we discuss the main elements of the Influence factor.

S for Steadiness

Steadiness (S) is the third factor. The traits and behaviour of the Steady style are explained in this section.

C for Compliance

The fourth and final DISC factor is Compliance, or simply C. The Compliance factor is described in this section.

Changes Across a Series

It is not unusual to find variations across the three graphs within a DISC profile series. In this section, we look at the significance of different shifts, and the ways that these can help interpretation.

Twelve Standard Sub-traits

From combinations of the four basic DISC factors, it is possible to extract twelve further factors, called sub-traits. This section looks at these twelve sub-traits, their definitions, and their meanings.

Job Matching

JOB Matching is a useful technique for quickly assessing an individual’s suitability for a particular role, achieved by matching a pre-defined Job Profile or Template with a DISC profile. This section looks briefly at the theory and practice of this technique.


While DISC was not explicitly designed to measure stress, it is often possible to use a profile series to derive a general picture of an individual’s stress levels, and their likely sources. This section takes a look at DISC’s uses with regard to stress.


IV. DISC Profile Shapes

One of the great advantages of DISC is that it produces recognizable ‘shapes’ representing differe