Updated: Jan 14
Introduction to Personality
Your personality is the combination of your personality traits that lead to the way you think and act. There are many personality traits, and different personality tests measure different traits.
Personality tests are basically surveys that ask you many questions. Then they give you a result telling you which personality type you are. Different tests have different personality groups. The three most useful personality tests I've used are DISC, Four Tendencies, and 16 Personalities. This article will focus on DISC.
Why is it important to understand people’s personalities?
Imagine you are listening to two computer programs argue. Excel complains that PowerPoint isn’t analytical enough. PowerPoint complains that excel isn’t visual enough. What would you think? That’s ridiculous. Excel is MADE to be an analytical program. PowerPoint is MADE to be a visual program. There’s no reason for them to argue and make those demands from each other. The same can be said with personality.
There are two main reasons why knowing people’s personality is useful:
1. You know their objective strengths and weaknesses
2. You know how to create synergy with them
Reason 1: Knowing People’s Strengths and Weaknesses
First, personality tells you your objective strengths and weaknesses. Most people don’t know their strengths and weaknesses. They might have some guesses, but they don’t KNOW with 100% certainty. Or maybe they know 1 or 2 strengths and weaknesses, but we have a lot more than just 1 or 2 strengths and weaknesses. Doing the three personality tests from this course will tell you, in detail, all your strengths and all your weaknesses.
Successful people focus on their strengths. They put 80%, 90%, or even 95% of their time and energy doing things that match their strengths. For their weaknesses, they patch them up to the point where it’s not a problem. For example, if your personality tells you that logic and analysis is your strength, and sensing people’s feelings is your weakness, then you know you shouldn’t be a therapist. That being said, it’s important to improve on your weakness to the point that it isn’t causing big problems for you in life.
Reason 2: Creating Synergy
Second, personality helps you understand other people who are different from you. That understanding helps create harmony and synergies. Synergy is when two people can create more than adding up what they create alone. In other words, 1+1 = 3.
The mistake people make is that they assume people should be like them. They get annoyed at people for not being as _(logical, caring, open, etc.)__ as them. If they understood that people have different personalities, then they wouldn’t make those demands on others.
For example, let’s say John likes to make plans and Mary likes to be spontaneous. If they didn’t learn about personality, then John gets angry at Marky for never making plans. Mary gets angry at John for being so inflexible and unopen. This conflict is a personality conflict.
Personality conflicts arise because the two people don’t appreciate each other’s different strengths and weaknesses, and that ‘s because they don’t even KNOW that different people have different strengths and weaknesses. If they understood and appreciated each other’s personalities, then they wouldn’t get annoyed at each other. John would do the plans, and Mary would deal with unforeseen changes to the plans as they are carrying out the plan. They use their different strengths to cover up each other’s different weaknesses. That’s synergy.
Now that we’ve mentioned the usefulness of personality, let’s talk about a simple personality test: DISC.
DISC Personality Test
DISC stands for Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, Conscientiousness. This personality test looks at two traits: how we interact with people and how we interact with work. You can take a formal test here, or you can simply answer these two questions:
When you are with people, are you more outgoing or reserved?
When you are doing a team project, are you more task-focused or people-focused?
Based on your answer to those two questions, you will belong to 1 of 4 personality groups.
Each group has different strengths and weaknesses.
The group directly opposite of you is the group you're most likely to have conflicts with because their strengths are your weaknesses. For example, D-Types are likely to have conflicts with S-Types, and C-Types are likely to have conflicts with I-Types. But if you are aware of this, then you can change your attitude to focus on your strengths and appreciate other people's different strengths.
D-Type means Dominance-Type. These people are outgoing and people-focused. They are demanding, decisive, and doers. Their main strength is that they get things done quickly. Their weaknesses are that they can be stubborn when giving opinions and they can miss details when getting things done quickly. Notice that in the picture, D is farthest from S, so the biggest weakness for D-types is group harmony, which is the strength of S-types.
I-Type means Influence-Type. These people are outgoing and task-focused. They are inspiring, influential, and ideators. Their main strengths are talking and giving ideas. One of their weaknesses is that they tend to be slow to do what they say they will do. Also, I is farthest from C, so the biggest weakness for I-types is attention-to-detail, which is the strength of C-types.
S-Type means Steady-Type. These people are reserved and people-focused. They are supportive and sensitive to people’s feelings. Their main strength is maintaining harmony with people. S is farthest away from D, so the main weakness for S-types is that they are slow to get things done, and it’s hard for them to make tough choices.
C-Type means Conscientious-Type. These people are reserved and task-focused. They are conscientious (detail-oriented), careful, and competent. Their main strength is attention-to-detail. C is farthest from I, so the weaknesses for C-types are coming up with lots of ideas and socializing.
How Common is Each Type?
Here is the percentage split according to the Extended DISC 2019 Validation Study:
Note that different countries will have differences. For example, the most common type in Germany is I-Type; for Brazil, it is C-Type.
How I've used DISC in my Life
With my leader
One time, my school’s headmaster asked me to make a course, and he gave me some high-level requirements but no specific details or actions. I figured out that my organization’s leader is an I-Type. He has big ideas and he’s very convincing when he talks, but he doesn’t go through the details about how it can actually get done. I'm a C-type that leans towards D-type, so I tend to focus on details and actions.
If I didn’t know about DISC, I probably would’ve tried to talk about details with him because it’s natural for us to communicate in the way that we are strong at. Fortunately, I knew about DISC, so I didn’t bother discussing the details with him. I also knew that my strength lies in figuring out the details, so I simply told him, “That sounds great. I’ll figure it out.”
Examples of using DISC from my students
I once put a group of three students together, and they were all A-level students. But they missed the rough copy submission deadline, and on their group report, they didn’t follow the assignment instructions. I was shocked. Then I checked their DISC (yes, I have the DISC profile of each student), and all three were I-types.
I told them, if you guys had told each other what your DISC type was at the beginning, you could’ve identified that you’re all I-types, which means you all have the same weakness: attention-to-detail. Just by knowing that, you could’ve taken extra care to overcome those weaknesses by writing down the deadlines and making a checklist for all the things you need to submit.
Another time, a student got very upset that her partner did his work in a very non-caring way. Based on what I know about these two students, I think the girl is a C-type and the boy is a D-type (who also happens to do things last-minute). C-types often get upset at others for their lack of attention-to-detail. The other team members didn’t get upset because they weren't C-types. By simply knowing about DISC, we can adjust our expectations for others (and ourselves) to be aligned with people’s strengths and weaknesses.
In this lesson, we looked at the importance of and usefulness of personality. We also looked at a very simple personality test: DISC. From this test, we can see that different personalities naturally have different strengths and weaknesses.
We can use DISC to improve our communication with others, have more harmony in teams (by appreciating everyone's different strengths), and choose work that matches our strengths.
In the next two classes, we will look at more detailed personality tests, which also offer even more usefulness than DISC.