An Introvert’s Guide To DISC Profiling (and why you need to know about them)

DISC behavioural profiling is a way that you can use your introvert powers of analysis, reflection and quiet, to next-level the way you connect!

As an Introvert, I could argue that my fellow introverts and I are more aware of our behavioural traits and the behaviour of others. You see, as introverts, we naturally spend a lot more time thinking about these types of things, examining our behaviour, replaying situations over in our minds, considering what we could have done differently (or better!) and analysing other people’s comments, reactions or body language. Whether you call it reflection, introspection, introverting, over-thinking or something else completely, it is a fact – introverts spend lot of time internalising their feelings, thoughts and beliefs.

So, what if I told you there was a simple toolkit that you could use to quickly assess the behaviour of the people around you? What if I told you that you could then use this toolkit to adapt your own behaviour, to improve the quality of your communication, relationships and outcomes? Well my friend, allow me to introduce to you, DISC behavioural profiling, a way that you can use your introvert powers of analysis, reflection and quiet, to next-level the way you connect!


What is DISC behavioural profiling?

DISC is a psychometric analysis tool that allows you to observe the behaviour of those around you and to loosely categorise them as one, or a mix, of the four DISC behavioural types. DISC provides you with a guide of what to look for and how to then adapt your behaviour to suit the behavioural preferences of your work colleagues (this can of course work on your family and friends too, but in this post we are focusing on work situations!).

DISC is not a personality test – we are looking at behaviour only, not personality as you might with some other psychometric tools. DISC is not a measure of intelligence and there is no “best” or “better” behavioural types (although we all know there is something special about being an introvert, am I right?).


What are the benefits of profiling my work colleagues?

By profiling your colleagues, you can better understand their preferences and can adapt to suit those preferences, with minimal hassle or hard work. You see, all it often takes is a few tweaks to your own behaviour to allow you to connect more effectively with your work colleagues. I’ll give you some examples later.


What are the four DISC behavioural types?

Before I share the four behavioural types, I just want to stress this point. DISC is not about pigeon-holing people or placing them firmly in boxes. Nobody is 100% one of the behavioural types (we are all made up of a mixture of these types), but what we are considering is a person’s preference. After all, we are all capable of anything we set our mind to, despite the fact that we may have preferences or tendencies that suggest otherwise.


Here is some information about each of the types:

D – The D is our Director or Dominator. People with a high D preference like to be in charge and to be calling all the shots. They are extroverted thinking and task focused, meaning that they are driven to just get the job done. D-types like to move quickly and get frustrated by slowness. They prefer to see only the bigger picture and don’t like getting bogged down in the minutia. They are direct communicators, thrive in a changing environment (and sometimes create change just for the thrill of it), make decisions quickly and don’t like to be challenged. People with a high D preference usually strive to achieve their goals, regardless of what stands in their way.


I – The I is our Social Butterfly. People with a high I preference are extroverted thinking and people focused, which means they have a need to connect with others and they love talking! I-types are also bigger picture focused, but can sometimes confuse the meaning of busy and productive. You may see them shuffling papers or struggling to stay on top of a messy workspace. I-types enjoy meetings and building relationships – rather than sending an email, they would prefer to have a coffee or talk about something over the phone.


S – The S is our Sensitive or Steady type. People with a high S preference are introverted thinking and people focused, meaning that although they have a need to spend time alone to recharge, they also thrive on connection, particularly one-to-one or in small groups. S-types are known for saying yes, even when they don’t mean it, and being driven largely by their feelings, beliefs or values. S-types have often been called “too sensitive” and would prefer to stay quiet in meetings, agreeing to avoid conflict or change, which they passionately dislike.


C – The C is our Compliance type. People with a high C preference are very detail oriented and enjoy building and sharing their expertise. C-types are introverted thinking and task focused, which means that they love getting down into the nitty-gritty and would prefer to dive into complex data analysis than connect with other people. They love working alone and crave information in order to make decisions, which never happens quickly. Although C-types don’t like change or conflict, they will stand their ground if their opinion is backed up by facts. They just might do it in a long email after a meeting, rather than voicing their standpoint in real time.


How can I adapt my behaviour to work more effectively with other types?

At a very high level, I would suggest that you look at the likes and dislikes I have mentioned above and think about how these translate into your work environment. Think about how you can pivot or change your behaviour slightly to appeal to your colleague’s preferences. Please note that this is not about making yourself uncomfortable or pushing far outside of your comfort zone. Here is an example.

In a previous role, I worked to two managers, one who was a very high D and the other, who was a very high C. This often created a lot of arguments, as you can imagine. The C manager wanted to ensure they were heard and wanted to be provided with all of the information. The D manager wanted to be in control, only get the bigger picture information and always wanted to make decisions on the spot. Here are a couple of techniques that we used after learning about DISC, to ensure that both managers were comfortable:

When communicating via email, we stopped cc’ing the D manager on emails. If he didn’t directly need to know about something or take action, he wasn’t included.

At the beginning of our management emails, we included a summary for the D manager to review the key information, without having to get into the nuts and bolts.

In our email communications, under the summary, we would provide a more detailed explanation so that the C manager was provided with all the information she needed and didn’t feel out of the loop.

For our management meetings, we scheduled the first half of the meeting as a quick run down, where we would provide both managers with an overview of our tasks and actions. The D manager was then invited to leave the meeting and the C manager was invited to ask questions and probe deeper into the information we had provided.

We created a decision matrix that prevented the D manager from making quick, emotion based decisions without allowing the C manager to have input or time to think and review the information. This worked to an extent – sometimes you just can’t stop those D-types from moving ahead at their own will!


How does being an introvert help me to implement DISC?

Well, like I pointed out at the beginning of this post, introverts are already observing, analysing and reflecting on what happens around them. In fact, as you read the details about each of the behavioural types above, I bet you can already recount instances where your work colleagues have displayed some of these behaviours or preferences! It is almost like as introverts, we have the upper hand when it comes to DISC and once you have the framework down pat, you’ll be well on your way to becoming an expert at using DISC to work more effectively and build stronger working relationships.


How can I find out more?

Well, firstly, I have created some DISC cheat sheets for you, that provide a little more information about each of the DISC types and how you can adapt your behaviour to suit them. You can access the cheat sheets here – you will also get access to my weekly newsletter, The Hump Day Digest, which provides loads of useful information about how you can next-level your career.

Secondly, leave me a comment at the bottom of this post to let me know that you are interested in learning more about DISC and let me know if you have any specific questions you would like me to answer. I’d love to pop back and shed some more light about how you can use DISC to improve your career!


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Rebecca McFarland is a HR professional and career coach who has worked in the human resources industry for over ten years. She’s also the founder of Pop Your Career and has qualifications in human resources, business, management and adult education, and a DISC Advanced Consultant and Facilitator Accreditation.

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