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Submitted by BLivell on


Hi Everyone!

Has anyone heard of DISC being taught with the idea of someone having a "Natural vs. Adapted style"

My company has being using a individual to teach DISC. Everyone in the company had to take the online survey that was very similar to the one MT Effective Comm. Conf Attendees took.

The key difference between the two was this notion of "Natural vs Adapted" style. Based on the training that this person has been doing, a direct in my group is a Natural I and an Adapted S.

Is this valid? Has anyone heard of this terminology?



HMac's picture

Brian - I've seen similar efforts (mostly well-intentioned) to "add value" to DISC by layering on additional criteria, applications or interpretations. Is the "Natural vs. Adapted Style" something that's part of the DISC itself, or is an add-on by the person who;s administering it for your company?

I can't judge the validity of your circumstances. In my experience, some of these adaptations add clarity, and some add complexity.

A lot of these interpretations focus on telling you how you behave in the workplace, and suggest it's different than how you behave elsewhere (and your experience with so-called "natural vs adpated style" might fall into this category).

I'm not going to get into the academic debate about whether you're a different person in the workplace or whether instruments like these can validly measure that difference, if it exists at all. Rather, I'll tell you this: The best judge of the findings is YOU. If you think the findings are revealing and insightful, they're probably true. If you think they're BS, or they're hard to understand, they're probably not true (unless you're in denial! :wink: ).


BJ_Marshall's picture
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I think the value of DISC for me comes from recognizing my style and being aware of the styles others exhibit. Whether this behavior is "natural" or "adaptive" doesn't matter to me.

If someone is behaving in a way that may be S-like (whether that behavior is "natural" or "adapted," I'm going to try to relate to them on S-terms. There's a guy in my office who's a high-C. I don't know whether he's being "natural" or "adapted." I don't know if it matters, really. He's behaving C-like, so I try to relate to him on C-terms. (Did I just make up words like [DISC]-like and [DISC]-terms?)

We all have each of the styles within us. My style is high-D. But I can bring out my S-ness (there I go again with making up words!) to have more effective communications with people who are predominantly S-like. Communication is about the listener, and knowing DISC helps me be more effective. (At least it does when I make a conscious effort at it.)


hyubdoo23's picture

I'm not sure how it is measured, but the results given show one's natural style, and then how that is adapted to fit into the current role. A high "I", for example, in a supervisory role, may well temper their "I" by focusing on the work rather than the relationship to get the job done, less of the "Mr Nice Guy", if you will.

The main point of the analysis is to underline any major adaptations (a large shift either way on any scale), which may need to be addressed as they signify stress. An employee will be adapting either reactively (as an unconscious response to work environment/constraints/expectations) or strategically (conscioulsy altering natural behaviour patterns to "fit in" with perceived requirements of the job).

Works for me...

sklosky's picture

I've heard of these concepts.

I think that the goal is to find individuals' natural tendancies in order to minimize the "acting" or "adapting".

On some occassions with some individuals, this is hard. It may be necessary to run assessments (both the self assessment test and/or 3rd party observations) under conditions that bring out natural tendencies. On the online test, some folks encourage the person taking the test to "not think about it" and run through the test at a rapid rate. This can help find "natural" vs. "adapted". When observing others' behaviour, you might try doing it late in the day or when the person being observed is tired and not "adapting".

US41's picture

Focus on effectiveness and the MT approach makes sense.

The way Mark and Mike approach DISC, it is a very useful tool. You can quickly observe behavior, categorize it, and adapt to it. Whether or not what the person is actually anything in particular or whether or not the test is valid, you still get some kind of picture about how you may be viewed from a source that is not a biased friend or enemy, and you can draw a line from A to B to modify your behavior.

MT uses DISC as presented by Inscape Publishing. They have their own take on it. There are others equally qualified and credentialed who have other takes on it. Some say it is not behavior but in fact just the way you are hardwired. You can "act" if you want, but if you are a high D, you are pretty much a high D to the bone.

Here's the important point: It doesn't matter what you are or whether it is your behavior or your personality. The way M&M use it here, it is simple, it gives some self-awareness to those willing to listen, and it gives some small insight into others' preferences. It also teaches tolerance of differences and allows one to distinguish between behavior and conclusions about perceived intent or malice.

So, while you can research this topic to death and swirl around wondering who is "right," in the meantime, those that take the inscape test learn about themselves a little, learn about others, and then start moving in the right direction to bridge the gap.

In short: Effectiveness.

AManagerTool's picture

I took a DISC test that showed my adapted style. The way that the testing company person presented the results to me was that the adapted style is more about stress. In my case, I am a very high D normally and when I am stressed I become even higher D (almost NAZI D). It tells me to watch out under stress or I'll squash people.

As everyone else is saying, it's a tool not destiny.

dfbfloyd's picture

I would have to agree with US41 "You can "act" if you want, but if you are a high D, you are pretty much a high D to the bone." People that try and act out a certain style are only successful some of the time. Their true colors eventually show.

I've run into discussions about focus and whether people take the profile with a work or a home focus in mind. Sometimes the results are different but they're not typically that far off. However, I would probably be a little skeptical about the natural vs. adapted piece. This may be the investigator in me.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

[quote="dfbfloyd"]I would have to agree with US41 "You can "act" if you want, but if you are a high D, you are pretty much a high D to the bone." People that try and act out a certain style are only successful some of the time. Their true colors eventually show. [/quote]

I'd add a 'but' to that, one that (in the words of a song) has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. If you make a conscious effort to consistently act in a particular way then you can 'train' your self to behave more that way to mitigate a natural behaviour style or augment one that is unnatural for you. Someone like myself who scores a 1 for I is probably never going to be a high I but getting that 1 up to a 2 or 3 is probably do-able.

It seems to me that this is partly what is behind feedback. When we give feedback we want to change or reinforce someone's behaviour. On the change side, ideally we want to not just change their conscious behaviour but also unconscious, to ingrain a habit of effective behaviour (if that sounds like brain washing, well it is not far off; but look at things like advertising, education, child rearing and military training, they're equally close). Habit is a behaviour you have that you don't think about doing, DISC measures your behaviours when you're not thinking about how you are behaving.


Dani Martin's picture
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I agree with Stephen's point, also based on my own personal experience. Several years ago I was a very high S with virtually non-existant D,i and C. I am now a very high D/high I. I wasn't consciously trying to change my profile. Rather, the change came from my change in behavior to be more effective as my role changed over time due to promotions.

My understanding of natural vs. adapted style is that your natural style is how you behave when you're not thinking about your behavior. You're just "being yourself." Your adapted style is when your conscious of your behavior and how it impacts others, possibly resulting in some adjustments. The greater the difference between one's natural and adapted styles, the greater the stress. "Ideally" one's natural and adapted styles would be the same. This would indicate that a person is in a role that suits their style well and allows them to be effective without "thinking" about their behavior.

I have used this knowledge with my directs with good success. It provided the opportunity to discuss with them how we could (sometimes) make some adjustments in their role to better align their styles, allowing them to be more effective [b]and[/b] have greater job satisfaction.

bug_girl's picture

There is a lot of discussion about natural/adapted style with regards to other instruments (MBTI etc.), and generally what I've read is that a [i]little[/i] adaptation is just fine, and healthy.

One way I have seen this assessed is to have people take the assessment as their "home" self, and as their work self.

A High D trying to act like a High S can be done for short periods, but keeping it up daily isn't good.

I think we know when an environment isn't a good fit for our style--I was in a group of High Ds for a while (they may have all been Tool's UberD), and eventually just left. I could play their game, but it was just too much work to keep up every day, day after day.
Now I have a nice mix of D, I, S, and C around me, so there's more of a variety.