"How To Be Right And Make Others Right Too:"
The Power of Behavior Style Understanding
Peggy Joy Jenkins, Ph.D.

The study of the four classic behavior styles has brought me the joy of better understanding myself, my family, and my acquaintances.  It has made me more compassionate toward myself and others.  I now recognize that I can be right for me and encourage others to be right for themselves, since our inherent temperaments are different. 

The information on temperaments or behavior styles goes back at least as far as Hippocrates (400 B.C.)  when he named these basic styles Choleric, Sanguine, Phlegmatic, and Melancholy.   Modern day behavior scientists use a variety of names.  The system I favor uses DISC language:  D—Dominant/Direct, I—Influencing/Interacting, S—Supportive/Steady, and

C—Conscientious/Cautious.  Most of us are high in two and low in two. 

This brief article will not explain the styles but will focus on the value of knowing about the styles.  For instance, understanding the needs, motivations, and fears of each style helps us become less judgmental as we see that another’s style comes from a different set of needs. 

Here are some examples of why behavioral style understanding is so valuable. 

1.   If you are speaking, selling, or teaching, it is good to know that each style has a favorite question that needs to be answered.

a.   What?  (What is in this for me or what’s the bottom line?)

b.   Who?  (Who is involved or who will be there?)

c.   How?  (How do I do it, use it, apply it?)

d.   Why?  (Why is this important, of value?)

2.   Understanding Behavior Styles helps us practice the Platinum Rule.  It goes beyond the Golden Rule which says “Treat others as you want to be treated.”  Since there are four classic temperaments, each with different needs, we can alienate people if we treat them just as we want to be treated.  For instance, your friend may abhor surprises and not appreciate the surprise birthday party that you’re planning.  The Platinum Rule says “Treat others as they want to be treated.”  Therefore, it behooves us to have an understanding of who wants a slow pace or fast pace, who wants to put tasks before people or who wants to put people before tasks, who wants security and who wants change, who wants thinking time and who wants the air waves filled.  These are not value issues but basic differences in genetic temperaments.  They need to be recognized, honored, and then flexed at, times, for the sake of the relationship. 

3.   DISC understanding helps us prevent or divert hostility.  Hostility is related to our fears and each style has a predominate fear.  For instance, the S style fears loss of security, (emotional and financial).  Our awareness and acknowledgement of that can prevent hostility.  The I is fearful of social  rejection, the D of being taken advantage of, the C of criticism.  Armed with that knowledge, do you see how we may be able to speak and act with each of them in a way that can prevent hostility?

4.   DISC knowledge helps us know what motivates each style.  For instance, the I style wants to play and have fun; the D wants to get it done.  We can plan events that honor the social needs of the I and the task orientation of the D.  The C style is an information specialist and wants all the data and time they need to do careful accurate work.  Through experiencing your own behavior Profile, you’ll be better able to undertstand the motivations of others.

5.   Behavior style awareness enables you to see a person’s limitations simply as a strength pushed to an extreme.  Examples abound.  Here are a few: 

    being critical is an overextension of being analytical

    lack of initiative is an overextension of easy going

    impatience is an overextension of being goal oriented

    talking too much is an overextension of being a good communicator

When someone is worrying we can remember how conscientious they are, when someone is blunt with us we can remember that their strength is being direct and straightforward.  When you see a nosey person you can be sure he has a curious and questioning mind.

6.   DISC understanding is crucial for good family relationships.  We really needs to profile our family members including children above 5.  How often parents try to make their children more like them – such as social when the child is task oriented or fast paced who the child is slowed paced.  The child’s temperament is a gift she came in with because it will support her in what she is here to do.  Respect it!  There are Relationship Profiles available especially designed to help two people better understand and appreciate each other.

7.   The value of behavior style knowledge has long been recognized in the business world because understanding ourself and others can affect the bottom line.  Thousands of companies all over the world are using the scientifically validated DISC Profiles to assist in hiring, placement, career pathing, conflict resolution, teamwork, and management.  Churches, hospitals, and government organizations are all profiting from this new, but ancient, awareness.

If I can be of service to you by offering training in the DISC Profiles or walking you through the paper and pencil or computer version of the DISC Profile please write or call me.  You will be delighted with this deeper understanding of yourself.

          Peggy J. Jenkins Ph.D.


          Fax:  928-282-2777

          Ph:  928-282-1311