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DISC types


Explanations > Preferences > DISC types

DISC types | PreferencesSo what?


DISC types

This is a popular system originating in the 1920's by an American psychologist called William Moulton Marston. It measures four preferences, in which you are scored in each preference (thus resulting in a profile score across each type).

The meanings of the DISC letters vary, according to whom you talk. Known variants are included in the table below:


DISC type



(Direct, Driver, Demanding, Determined, Decisive, Doer)

Independent, persistent, direct.

Energetic, busy, fearless.

Focus on own goals rather than people.

Tell rather than ask.

Ask 'What?'


(Inducement, Inspiring, Impressive, Interacting, Interesting)

Social, persuasive, friendly.

Energetic, busy, optimistic, distractible.

Imaginative, focus on the new and future.

Poor time managers. Focused on people than tasks.

Tell rather than ask.

Ask 'Who?'


(Submissive, Stable, Supportive, Shy, Status quo, Specialist)

Consistent, like stability.

Accommodating, peace-seeking.

Like helping and supporting others. Good listeners and counselors.

Close relationships with few friends.

Ask, rather than tell.

Ask 'How?' and 'When?'


(Cautious, Compliant, Correct, Calculating, Concerned, Careful, Contemplative)

Slow and critical thinker, perfectionist.

Logical, fact-based, organized, follows rules.

Don't show feelings. Private. Few, but good friends.

Big-picture, outlines.

Ask 'Why?' and 'How?'


When compared to the Myers-Briggs Type Inventory, it is more behaviorally focused (Myers Briggs focuses more on the thinking processes).


Just by looking closely at this, a number of preferences can be seen within the DISC types, including:



Dominant Influential Steady Cautious
Focus on other people   X X  
Independent, internal X     X
Energetic and busy X X    
Tell rather than ask (vs. opposite) X X    
Imaginative, big-picture, future-focused   X   X
Like stability and predictability     X X
Like change (vs. stability) X X    
Task-oriented (vs. people) X     X
Flexible to changing world   X X  


The DISC can be simplified in a 2x2 grid:





Active, Outgoing  



Passive, Internal  





So what?

Understand the DISC type. They are quite simple and thus easy to use. Then play to the person's preferences and overall type.

With Dominant people

  • Build respect to avoid conflict
  • Focus on facts and ideas rather than the people
  • Have evidence to support your argument
  • Be quick, focused, and to the point
  • Ask what not how
  • Talk about how problems will hinder accomplishments
  • Show them how they can succeed

With Influential people

  • Be social and friendly with them, building the relationship
  • Listen to them talk about their ideas
  • Help them find ways to translate the talk into useful action
  • Don’t spend much time on the details
  • Motivate them to follow through to complete tasks
  • Recognize their accomplishments

With Steady people

  • Be genuinely interest in them as a person
  • Create a human working environment for them
  • Give them time to adjust to change
  • Clearly define goals for them and provide ongoing support
  • Recognize and appreciate their achievements
  • Avoid hurry and pressure
  • Present new ideas carefully

With Conscientious people

  • Warn them in time and generally avoid surprises
  • Be prepared. Don't ad-lib with them if you can
  • Be logical, accurate and use clear data
  • Show how things fit into the bigger picture
  • Be specific in disagreement and focus on the facts
  • Be patient, persistent and diplomatic

See also

Four Types

Marston, C. (1970). Motivating the “What’s in it for me?” workforce. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley

Marston, William (l979), The emotions of normal people, Minneapolis, Persona Press, Inc.

Rohm, Robert (1993), Positive Personality Profiles, Personality Insights Inc.

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