Darren Lawrence

Understanding Yourself, and Other People

Do you find that there are certain people that you ‘click’ and ‘connect’ with, whereas with other people, it’s a lot more difficult? You often hear people when they are talking about others say:

‘We are on the same page’

‘We get each other’

Or:

‘We’re not on the same wavelength’

‘I can’t see where he/she is coming from’

I have recently returned to the world of psychometrics after a few years. These are tools, tests or exercises that can help you understand yourself, your preferences, and the basic personality traits of other people. They are based on years of research and are often used in recruitment, or for teambuilding purposes, or simply for self-awareness and development. There are many of them out there, each a variation on a theme, including Myers-Briggs, Belbin, Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI), Facet 5, Occupational Personality Inventory (OPI) and others.

About 12 years ago, I was part of a team at The FA who were all profiled using the SDI – see http://personalstrengths.uk/. This helped us to understand how different team members behaved at work and how they responded under pressure or when faced with conflict. Some were blue (caring, people focused), some green (reflective, evidence, process), and others red (direct, assertive, performance focussed). Some, like me, were in ‘the hub’ – a bit of everything, neutral, adaptable. It is possible to ‘borrow’ some behaviours from the other colours even if your natural preference is another colour. It became a language in itself to us as a team e.g. ‘he is blue’ or ‘she is green’ or, ‘oh, you showed some red in that situation!’ and helped us to understand each other and work together in a better way.

I recently undertook the SDI again and found that I was no longer in the hub, but now ‘green’ which is very much about logical analysis and thoughtful planning. Yes, that’s me! Last year I was working with a coach and did an OPI, which highlighted how I was conscientious, organised, with a sense of duty and data focussed. I like routine, dislike change and weigh things up before making a decision. Again – pretty accurate. We think we know ourselves, but sometimes having this validation or evidence to explain our personalities can be something of a revelation!

Then in writing this blog I remembered another assessment tool I had done some years ago, called Facet 5 http://www.facet5global.com. Facet 5 is marketed as ‘the most modern and advanced measure of personality available today.’ My Facet 5 report from 2007 suggests that I am quiet but efficient, with high ideals and principles, listens, develops others, prefers one to one relationships and with an aptitude for mentoring/coaching. This leads me to believe that whilst you can make certain tweaks in certain environments and situations, the core ‘you’ doesn’t change too much.

DISC Personality Profiling

In my coaching studies, I have recently become introduced to DISC, and I am now an accredited provider for DISC profiles. The benefit of DISC over other psychometric tests is its simplicity (it takes 7 minutes to complete). It helps you to ‘understand people in minutes rather than months’, just by asking 2 simple questions:

  1. Are you outgoing or reserved?
  2. Are you task focussed or people focussed?

The answers to these questions will direct you to one of the 4 profile groups, with the following traits, and fears, likely to be present:

D (outgoing, task focussed)
  • Dominant, direct, driven, demanding, decisive, determined, doers. Fast-paced.
  • Fears – being taken advantage of, failure
I (outgoing, people oriented)
  • Inspirational, influential, interactive, impulsive, involved
  • Fears – rejection, loss of popularity
S (reserved, people)
  • Steady, stable, supportive, sensitive, sentimental, preserve the status quo. Slower paced.
  • Fears – loss of security, change for changes sake
C (reserved, task)
  • Cautious, competent, careful, compliant, calculating, conscientious
  • Fears – criticism without validation, conflict

Which one sounds more like you? (recognising that there may be times when you are a bit of all of them).

Can you recognise the other profiles in work colleagues, or your friends and family?

Do you recognise the traits and fears in notable/famous people? For example, Donald Trump is probably the most extreme ‘D’ that you could ever see!

When you undertake the profiling tool you are provided with 3 graphs, one is your self-perception, one is how you think you need to be in public, and the third one is how you are under pressure. How these 3 graphs change can reveal a lot about your behaviour related to different settings.

You will also have a secondary preference, or a blend, therefore you may be a D-I, or an S-C. There are 42 different DISC combinations and these identify how far on the scale a person is in a particular behaviour (intensity) or trait. I am a C-S, which suggests that I like data, information and evidence at work, analytical, I am steady and stable and do not like too much change. This is all consistent with the feedback from the other assessment tools I mentioned above. When under pressure I slow things down and refer to data and facts to ensure that I am right. I am generally not dominant in a group and I don’t tend to do small talk. I can of course demonstrate some of these behaviours, but they would be a little more outside of my comfort zone and not necessarily my preference.

How DISC Profiling Can Help

Armed with this information, what can you do about it and how can it help? The first thing to acknowledge is, there are no good or bad profiles – people are different and it’s just the way it is! The profile explains a preference, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t change behaviour or you (or others) should be labelled as one personality type which is assumptive, and unhelpful.

The profiling information can help you to understand yourself, but also others and importantly why people behave as they do, and why certain things happen. Most of us work with other people in some way, and will recognise people that fit with each profile group. The environment that we are in is important too, for example you might take on a dominant role at work but be more passive and compliant at home…or vice versa!

In terms of working and interacting with people, it is about acknowledging the similarities or differences to understand what is happening in the relationship and where necessary, meeting in the middle. If you are someone that wants to get things done and make decisions quickly (a D profile), you may find it infuriating to work with someone who is methodical and needs the detail to move forward (a C profile). If this is you, how can you relate to this person and slow yourself down a little, whilst encouraging them to speed up? Working together could be mutually beneficial as you both bring different qualities to the table – one will ensure the job gets done, the other will ensure it is right.

So, in terms of the benefits –  

For individuals the profile can increase personal awareness and help identify areas for development

For teams it can help foster greater understanding amongst colleagues, improving communication and cooperation.

For businesses, it can assist in recruitment, placement and identifying training needs.

In summary, these tests are not the answer to everything of course. However, having heightened awareness and understanding about your own personality and those of others can only benefit you in the workplace and in your life as a whole.

If you would like to undertake your individual DISC profile with me, have your team profiled as a group, or would just like to know more about DISC, please contact me at Darren@Darren-Lawrence.com

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