How DISC Finds the Real You

by | Jun 27, 2023 | Blog

We’ve all heard how a DISC assessment can help identify our natural behavioral preferences. A valid DISC assessment provides a measure of how we act in an environment where we feel free to be our authentic selves. But did you know that a more comprehensive DISC assessment like the one offered by DPP can identify how we might adapt our behavior if the environment changes to something we perceive as less favorable? 

The best DISC profiles can measure this adaptive behavior. They can show how we might choose to change the way that we act when we perceive the need to do so. 

We prefer to see people operating as close to their authentic selves as possible. Why is operating in our Natural styles important? When people are free to be their Natural authentic selves, they are typically in an environment where they can do their best work. It’s easy for them to get into a state of flow. In positive psychology, a flow state, also known as ‘being in the zone’, is the mental state in which a person is performing their role while being fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and enjoyment in the process of the activity. People who can locate that flow state and find their zone are most likely to be happy with their work, their environment, and their contributions to a larger purpose or company goals and initiatives. 

Using a comprehensive DISC assessment report can help you to determine which of your team members is in a position to find a state of flow so they can work in their zone and which may be struggling to achieve that flow state because they perceive the need to adapt their behavior. Here’s what you need to know about Natural DISC behavioral styles versus Adaptive DISC styles and what you can do about them. 

How We Find the Adaptive Self

A comprehensive DISC report can identify how we may adapt our behavior because it uses all of the information available from the assessment. When someone takes the DPP DISC assessment, they are asked to rank order 4 words/phrases into those that are ‘Most like me’ and ‘Least like me’. Each word/phrase is connected to one of the 4 distinct DISC behavioral styles: Decisive, Interactive, Stabilizing, or Cautious. 

When some other DISC providers score an individual’s results they may only use some of the data. They may focus only on the styles that are ‘Most’ and ‘Least’ while not using the other 2 rankings. A more exhaustive study will use ALL of the information provided in the rankings. There could be inconsistencies in the respondent’s answers hiding inside that data, and those inconsistencies provide clues as to our Natural and Adaptive behavior patterns. 

Because we use an all-4 ranking system we can determine how people act when they are free to be themselves and how their behavior may change when they feel they are being observed or when they perceive the current environment requires a shift in the way that they act.

Know that environmental shifts can happen quickly, and someone’s Adaptive behavior can follow suit. Adaptive scores on a DPP report are influenced by someone’s surroundings over their last 6-12 months. 

On the other hand, Natural behavior patterns can be considered more glacially dynamic. Change does happen in the Natural scores, but it happens slowly over a longer period of time. Some adapting is a good thing. It helps us navigate complex relationships and conversations. Too much adapting, however…

When Adapting is a Concern

What we like to see is people being their authentic selves or as close to it as possible whether they’re in a perceived favorable or unfavorable environment. While we can adapt to any situation for a short time, our natural preferences keep pulling us back to where we feel more comfortable. If that pull is constant and we’re feeling it all of the time, it can cause stress. 

Think of it like this: it’s the difference between normal breathing which we don’t have to think about, our subconscious brain does the work for us. And when we think about breathing, like when meditating or exercising. We exert our conscious will over our subconscious mind to control our natural breath. It’s about going with the flow or swimming against the current. Which is easier?

When we adapt our behavior, we’re exerting ourselves to operate outside of our preferred Natural state. That takes brain power and since the brain uses the most energy out of all of the organs in our bodies, if we adapt for too long we’re exhausted at the end of the day.

What Adapting Looks Like in the Scores

When looking at a completed DPP report there are colored bars that reflect someone’s Natural behavior in each DISC style and just to the right there are gray bars that show their Adaptive scores in each area. (see illustration below)

We expect to see some adapting because we all adjust our behavior at times to aid us in interacting with others. These adaptations can be seen when the shift between Natural and Adaptive is 25 points or less. This is normal, natural, and healthy behavior. 

If however, someone is shifting their Adaptive behavior either higher or lower than their Natural preference and the point difference is 25 or more, there lies the potential for stress. Again if we’re over-adapting too strenuously for a long period of time we’re using tons of extra brain power that could be better used elsewhere. We’re attempting to swim against the current and could be exhausting ourselves.

What to do About Adapting

When you see a team member whose Natural DISC behavior is overly inconsistent with their Adaptive behavior style, it’s time to ask some questions. If they’ve been in their role for at least 6-12 months, open the door to a conversation about their perception of their daily environment. Help them identify areas of potential stress. 

Then you can weigh your options. Does it make sense to adjust their job description to fit their Natural style or is it more feasible to shift them to a different role that is more suited to them and will reduce their level of stress? Ask them directly which items on their daily to-do list cause them the most angst and take them the most time to complete? Who on your team might be better suited to those tasks?  

Strive to help your team members operate to their authentic DISC behavioral style so they can find their flow state. This will help you create a happier, more engaged workforce.


Sign up for your Business Discovery Session with one of our DISC assessment specialists.