Originally published March 18, 2011.
Updated and republished September 13, 2015.
You can find basic information about DISC behavior styles (including creating shorthand graphs), Spranger guiding values, and relationships at smilessparksuccess.com. You will get the most out of this blog post if you look through that website and read through the free PDF downloads. See page 9 in S&R_Keys for a little background on DISC behavior styles. Any individual behavior style combination is affected by life circumstances, physical health, mental health, and emotional health.
Years ago I filled out a questionnaire that gave me a detailed graph of my behavior style combination. It was not completely accurate, but it was close. Free DISC questionnaires are available online. You should receive at least a partial report with a graph. You probably would have to pay for a complete report. Search for “DISC questionnaires”.
Note that the questionnaires are often described as identifying your “personality”. The originator of DISC behavior styles, William Moulton Marston, called them behavior styles because he used behavior clues to identify them. I use only the phrase “behavior styles”. Anyone can do anything they want with the DISC theory because Marston did not copyright it. He was a fascinating man.
The DISC behavior clues are:
Tone of voice
Frequently used words
Pace of speech and movement
When you understand your own and other people’s behavior styles, you can identify whom to run from (romantic duds) and whom to run to (romantic dynamos) for romance. Keep in mind that most of the people in the world will be romantic duds for you. Also keep in mind that you will be a romantic dud for most of the people in the world. Since you would like the rest of the people in the world to treat you with respect, remember to treat your romantic duds with respect. Besides, a romantic dud might be your connection to a romantic dynamo.
For a more complete understanding of your romantic duds and romantic dynamos, read the blog post “Value Clues for Romance: Whom To Run From, Whom To Run To”.
Using your relationships with family, friends, and former romantic partners as guides, you can identify your:
Run to behavioral factors for romance
Run from behavioral factors for romance
Neutral behavioral factors
Possible run from behavioral factor combinations
Behavioral issues to work on
I will use my own experiences as examples. My shorthand DISC behavior style graph is High I over High S with Low D over Low C.
I / S
See page 13 of S&R_Keys for the shorthand graph worksheet.
Run To Behavioral Factors
Relating To Other People
As a High I, I enjoy relating to other people for both fun and accomplishment. I enjoy the fun and spontaneity of other High I’s. I can make decisions to try new things on the spur of the moment. I need people to respect my ideas.
Maintaining A Steady Pace
At times I need the steady pace of a routine I create for myself.
Cooperating With Other People
I enjoy cooperating with other people to cope with challenges and solve problems.
Breaking Rules & Procedures
The C on my detailed graph is just below the midline, which means I could go either way on following rules or procedures. Whether or not I follow rules and procedures depends on the situation. I follow rules when I feel respected. I break rules when I feel little or no respect.
My romantic dynamos enjoy relating to others, accept my need for a steady pace, are cooperative, and respect my ideas.
Run From Behavioral Factors
Because of my childhood, control is a sensitive issue for me. My mother tried to kill me physically by smothering me. When that failed, she did her best to kill me mentally and emotionally by telling me I could do or have something I wanted, then taking it away from me at the last minute.
My mother controlled our family and made rules that suited her needs and desires. As an adult I am inclined to distrust authority. I reserve the right to decide which authority I will follow and which authority I will ignore, even on a job.
My romantic duds are men who need to control other people or who use their authority for their own gain.
Neutral Behavioral Factors
Frequent Changes Of Pace
As a High I behavior style I am curious and am willing to take some risks through changes in my life. I do not like frequent change, but I am willing to choose some change.
Breaking Rules & Procedures
I would get nervous if a Low C wanted to break rules that I believed in following, but the situational quality of my C would mean I would be breaking rules right along with another Low C part of the time.
I do not need to run from or run to romantic possibilities who enjoy change or who break the kind of rules I break.
Possible Run From Behavioral Factor Combination
Low I with High C
Caution with Following Rules
I already have problems with High C’s in romantic partners, but I would have even more problems with a High C and Low I combination. Low I’s are logical, detail oriented, and restrained. All of those qualities could fit well with my Secondary High S qualities of being meticulous, easy going, and patient. However, High C’s like to control their surroundings. One way they control their surroundings is by creating their own rules and procedures for personal relationships. The Low I tendency to be cautious about relationships and the High C need for personal rules and procedures is a run from combination for me.
Some of my failed attempts at friendships and friendly working relationships were with people who had Low I’s and High C’s in their behavior combinations. They responded to my friendly words and actions with cautious suspicion which increased each time I did not follow whatever rules they had for creating friendships. At times I felt I would have to cut off parts of myself to be acceptable just for a friendship or a friendly working relationship. A good relationship with a High C and Low I combination would be possible only if the individual understood behavior style differences.
Behavioral Issues to Work On
With S as my Secondary behavior style, I want parts of my life to be steady and dependable. High S people are also reserved about their feelings. At times I avoid confrontation when I’m afraid it will lead to change I don’t want. I’ve often avoided talking to friends and family about anything that upset me. I should have found a way to talk.
For instance, my siblings treated me like a trespasser in their lives for decades before I walked away. If I had been able to point out my trespasser status whenever it became obvious, my relationship with my siblings might have improved. My siblings and I live in different parts of the country. My second brother visited my other siblings, but never visited me. When I found that out I could have asked him when he would be able to visit me. The issue of his treating me like a trespasser would then be in the open and my brother would have to say or do something about it.
Given their history of ignoring me, my siblings may just have continued to ignore what I said. But I would have had a better chance of a decent relationship with my siblings if I had been willing to risk talking about being left out before it was obviously too late.
I also had trouble talking about my feelings to my husband. He was another secondary High S who avoided confrontation. If I had made comments about my feelings on small issues, he may have developed the ability to talk about his feelings on small issues. Being able to talk about the small issues would have helped us talk about the big issues. Instead, we hid our feelings from each other. Our combined avoidance of confrontation only added to the pain of our mental and emotional sores (see below).
In any relationship, I need to take the risk of confrontation before the relationship gets so bad that it has to end.
Using your relationships with family, friends, and former romantic partners as guides, you can identify your:
Run to emotional traits for romance
Run from emotional traits for romance
Neutral emotional traits
Possible run from emotional trait combinations
Emotional issues to work on
Run To Emotional Traits
Because I am a High I who tends to trust other people quickly, I want other people to trust me as quickly as I trust them.
Slow Anger Fuse
Because I have a slow anger fuse, I am most comfortable with other people who have slow anger fuses.
At the beginning of this post, I wrote this: “Any individual behavior style combination is affected by life circumstances, physical health, mental health, and emotional health.” For decades, I went through periods of overwhelming stress from my inability to cope with my memories of my mother murdering me. When I felt that overwhelming stress, I could get angry very quickly.
My romantic dynamos are trusting and slow to get angry.
Run From Emotional Traits
Fast Anger Fuse
My mother is High I over High D. The fast anger fuse of my mother’s secondary High D behavior style is definitely a run from trait for me. I lived in terror of her anger, fearful that she might try to kill me again. I need to avoid relationships where bursts of sudden anger are likely.
My mother and siblings have been skeptical of what I say about myself for my entire life. I refuse to tolerate more skepticism on a frequent basis.
My romantic duds get angry quickly and are skeptical.
Neutral Emotional Traits
Expresses Feelings Easily
High I’s are talkative people who can talk about their emotions. This makes the Low S easy expression of emotions neutral for me.
Fearful Of Breaking Rules
The High C’s fear of breaking rules is neutral for my romantic relationships because I feel fearful of breaking rules with an authority figure who respects me.
Fearless About Breaking Rules
The Low C’s fearlessness about breaking rules can make me nervous at times, but it is not enough to make me run from the relationship.
Even though the High C emotional trait is neutral for me, the High C behavioral factor is negative for me. I still need to run from behavioral combinations with controlling High Cs. I do not need to run from combinations with fearless Low C.
Possible Run From Emotional Trait Combination
High S with Low D
Nonexpression with Slow Anger Fuse
My father was a High S with a Low D in his behavior style combination. He was nonexpressive, avoided confrontation, and had a slow anger fuse. My mother abused him emotionally, even in front of us children at times. Anger at various stresses in his life — especially my mother’s abusiveness — would build up until he could not hold it in any longer. The resulting explosion could go on for days and left me terrified. My father became a quiet alcoholic as a way of burying his emotions as far as he could, which only made the inevitable eruptions worse.
Nonexpressive High S’s and slow anger fuse Low D’s are romantic dynamos for me only if they know how to express their anger in healthy ways.
Emotional Issues To Work On
I am a quick to trust High I with a close to the midline C tendency to distrust authority at times. I have trusted romantic partners too quickly and distrusted authority too quickly.
To end my tendency to trust too quickly, I should pay attention to the times I have created trust with others. I had a good relationship with a High S boyfriend, though our behavior style combinations did not match well enough for lasting love. High S’s can be slow to trust. I was able to create an atmosphere of trust with him that allowed him to express things he rarely told anyone. Despite the difficulties we eventually had, I am proud of the trust I was able to create for him, a trust I will never betray.
When I think back on the trust I created for my High S boyfriend, I can see now that it developed over time through my willingness to show I respected him and cared about his feelings. Instead of leaping into trust for someone in any kind of new relationship, I need to make sure they show me the same respect and concern I showed my High S boyfriend. Taking time to look for respect and concern will give me a better chance of creating relationships with people who value my trust.
To end my tendency to distrust authority too quickly, I should pay attention to the reasons I distrust authority. Doing so will help me identify which clues indicate an authority who cannot be trusted and which clues indicate an authority who can be trusted.
Since my distrust of authorities stems from my relationship with my mother, that relationship provides me with the clues for authorities I should not trust. My mother said one thing, but did another. The face she showed to other people was different from the face she showed to me. She rarely asked about my personal experiences, my feelings, or my ideas.
Therefore, I should distrust an authority who tells me one thing but does another, who shows a different face to other people than the one they show to me, and who never asks about my personal experiences, my feelings, or my ideas. I should trust an authority who does the opposite of what my mother did. I should trust an authority who either does what they say they will do or explains to my satisfaction why they did not do what they said they would do, who shows the same face to me that they show to other people, and who asks about my personal experiences, my feelings, and my ideas.
Change Is Possible
While I believe that my run from and run to behavioral factors and emotional traits are unlikely to change, I do think change is possible. Under the right circumstances and with the right people, your run from behavioral factors and emotional traits could become less of an issue. But you need to be aware of your run from behavioral factors and emotional traits before you can recognize the circumstances and people who could bring about the change.
Mental & Emotional Sores
Decades before I knew anything about DISC behavior styles, I married a man whose shorthand behavior style graph was the same as mine — High I over High S with Low D over Low C. This match could have been considered perfect. Our relationship was not perfect. We both had mental and emotional sores from our childhoods that created all kinds of pain for us. My husband tried to forget his pain with drugs and alcohol. I separated my memories of being murdered into disconnected physical, mental, and emotional pieces. Because the pain forced us to focus on our sores, we could not focus on each other. If we had known about DISC behavior styles when we met, we would have known how to satisfy our behavior style needs. We would have had more and more fun as the years passed. Since we both respected each other’s ideas, we would have helped each other be successful. But we didn’t know about DISC behavior styles and my husband’s emotional and mental sores became too much for him. He killed himself.
Decades after my husband died, I erased all the emotional pain from my childhood by taking ten minutes a day to satisfy my secondary High S behavior style need for quiet activities. (See Essential Success at smilessparksuccess.com.) My husband would have had to satisfy a different emotional need to heal his emotional sores, but he could have done it had he known enough to do it. I could have helped satisfy that need, too, had I known enough to do it.
Using the PDF downloads at smilessparksuccess.com, take time to make yourself smile. Take time to make your loved ones smile. Those smiles can spark the success of healing mental and emotional sores that keep people focused on their pain instead of on each other.
Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)
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