The DISC model

DISCp4 is a personal assessment tool for improving productivity, team work and communication. It deals exclusively with modes of behavior and communication.

One of the golden rules of communication is to adapt to others. We often make the same basic mistake: talking to others the way we would like them to talk to us. When in fact other people also want us to talk to them the way they like. Everyone unconsciously expects their contacts to adapt to their needs.

It’s the same for teams. Different members of a team share the same objectives or shared projects. But each team member is unique, with their own vision of things as well as their own expectations, needs and modes of communication. In order to attain a shared goal, each person will analyze things, talk them over and move forward in their own way. This can lead to conflicts, even though they derive from nothing more than a misunderstanding.

The DISCp4 model helps us understand others. Designed for both individuals and teams, it helps us adapt to the needs of our contacts thanks to effective communication. DISCp4 fits in perfectly with Agile management techniques.

Importante note: DISCp4 is an interpretative framework for human behavior. It is not a test of IQ, proficiency or personality. Nor is it an assessment of personal values. It is simply an analysis of behavior.

Go to to establish your profile

The D.I.S.C. model letter by letter

DISC is an acronym which stands for Dominant, Influential, Stable and Conscientious. The DISCp4 model evaluates people’s profiles in terms of these four components.

DISCp4 profiles are generally represented as a wheel divided into four quarters which correspond to the four founding components. Each component has its own characteristics and adjacent quarters share certain characteristics. For example, Dominant (D) and Influential (I) profiles generally correspond to people who are extroverts.

DISC profiles wheel
DISC wheel

People’s profiles are always expressed in terms of the four components. There are generally one or two main (adjacent) components. It is rare for a profile to contain only one component. Components which face each other are opposites, thus it is also rare for a profile to be made up of equal shares of the four components.

Dominant profiles

Dominant profiles

We often associate Dominants with the color red: fire, emergencies, firefighters etc. Dominants are at the top left of the disc, meaning they are extroverted and task-oriented.

Dominants have a macro vision of things. They enjoy taking an overall view and don’t bother with details, which tend to bore or scare them.

Dominants are straight-talkers. They don’t beat about the bush to say what they mean. They tell it the way it is which, when it goes too far, can make their contacts uncomfortable.

Dominants are motivated by challenges. Repetitive tasks bore them. They can complete them, but in a lackluster style. They will engage 100% with challenges.

Dominants come straight to the point. They move forward and do what it takes to attain their goals. If they encounter an obstacle (technical or human difficulties), they find a way to get around it. Dominants are competitors at heart, which can make them look aggressive to others.

Dominants speak loudly. They can seem to be shouting, especially when talking with other Dominants. A simple discussion with them may seem like an argument and can surprise people around them with other profiles.

Dominants speak fast. They don’t like blanks in a sentence and may take over any time their contact pauses in what they are saying.

Dominants are not afraid to get things wrong. They would rather get things wrong than do nothing. They may take decisions with very few cards in hand and it doesn’t bother them at all to acknowledge any mistakes they may make.

Influential profiles

Influential profiles

Influential profiles are associated with the color yellow: sunshine, joy etc. They are on the top right of the disc, meaning they are extroverted like dominants, but people-oriented.

Influential profiles are enthusiastic. They soon take an interest in innovations and can learn about them fast. They are able to pass their enthusiasm and motivation on to their team and lead their contacts forward.

Influential profiles enjoy working with others. They are sociable, eloquent and interested in their co-workers. They avoid solitude. They are often to be found by the coffee machine, chatting away with their colleagues.

Influential profiles maintain their list of contacts. They can refer us to the right person to solve our problems. Experts at networking, they delegate a lot. They sometimes find it hard to understand they need to complete a given task themselves.

Influential profiles live through others’ views of them. They like being the center of attention and can’t stand being alone or ignored. If they are neglected for too long, they may feel bad and lose motivation. Compliments, even on minor subjects, motivate them.

Influential profiles find it hard to complete tasks. They soon take an interest in – and become experts on – new things. But the downside of their enthusiasm is that as soon as another new subject comes along, they forget the previous one. It is therefore preferable to assign them tasks one by one.

Influential profiles are fashion victims. They always own the latest trendy gadget. Always very well dressed, they adapt their appearance to the environment so they will get noticed. They are either totally out of synch with others, very colorful but still classy, or extremely elegant with a bespoke suit.

Salespeople and door-to-door reps typically have Influential profiles, although this doesn’t mean they can’t excel in other fields.

Stable profiles

Stable profiles

Stable profiles are associated with the color green: calm, grass, nature etc. They are at the bottom right of the disc, meaning they are people-oriented like Influential profiles, but introverted. One difference between Stable and Influential profiles in their relation to others is that Stable profiles genuinely like people, whereas Influentials are more interested in the communication process.

Stable profiles speak quietly. It is often necessary to ask them to speak up on the telephone. Their contributions are rare but relevant. They require silence and when they speak up in meetings, the other participants pipe down.

Stable profiles can’t stand stress. At the opposite end of the spectrum to Dominants who are always on the go and who feel the need for things to move fast, Stable profiles need time to process information before they can react. Pressuring a stable profile may incapacitate them.

Stable profiles put other people before themselves. Mother Teresa or a man who is a good father typically have this profile. They can’t say no when asked for help and would do anything to come in aid to those close to them.

Stable profiles act in a calm and moderate fashion. They are even-tempered. They speak without raising their voices or gesturing with their hands, which remain on the table or in their pockets. They show no particular reaction to stress, although it bothers them profoundly.

Stable profiles are humble. They don’t like being singled out or receiving public compliments. It’s better to congratulate them in private. However, they appreciate their team being complimented and praised openly.

Stable profiles can react violently. Calm and helpful, they tend to keep to themselves criticisms or situations they don’t appreciate. But keeping things in means they stock negative energy. This means increased stress or a simple comment from a team or a family member can make them explode. Just like the straw that broke the camel’s back!

Stable profiles can explode completely. When they lose their temper, everything comes out at once, making for a disproportionate reaction. They will probably regret saying things they didn’t really mean. People can thus end up in conflict with a Stable profile for something banal, without realizing that their reaction has been generated by multiple sources of professional and/or personal tension.

Conscientious profiles

Conscientious profiles

Conscientious profiles are associated with the color blue: the sea, calm, the police etc. They are on the bottom left of the disc, meaning they are introverted like Stable profiles, but task-oriented.

Conscientious profiles work alone. They don’t particularly enjoy working with others, who often hold them back. If they are lucky enough to have their own office, they will close the door.

Conscientious profiles think things through. They only support decisions which are logical. Any form of logic will do, but ideally, it should be their own.

Conscientious profiles can identify flaws. They are experts at spotting when a system isn’t working (without necessarily knowing why). Their ability to detect inconsistencies is a strength to be reckoned with.

Conscientious profiles love details. They write long e-mails. These contain an introduction, a main argument, a counter-argument, a conclusion, examples… and many attachments, which they expect people to read. For every task entrusted to them, they enjoy being showered with details in order to do their job meticulously, contrary to Dominants, who can’t stand them.

Conscientious profiles are scared of getting things wrong. The very possibility can paralyze them. They find it hard to take decisions for fear making a mistake. They need to have all the necessary elements in hand to feel at ease and tend to put off deadlines until all variables are known.

Conscientious profiles respect rules and procedures. Accountants and administrative staff typically have this profile, although this doesn’t mean they can’t excel in other fields.

Profile opposites

DISC profiles are arranged on the wheel in such a manner that two adjacent profiles share a certain number of characteristics, whereas profiles opposite each other are diametrically different.

DISC Dominant-Stable opposites

Communication between Dominants and Stable profiles is complex and dangerous. Dominants speak loudly, with no breaks. They risk crushing Stable profiles, who will let them without speaking up. Dominants then believe they have won, interpreting their silence as agreement and a sign they are right (Dominants don’t realize that when they win, somebody else loses). In the meantime, Stable profiles experience Dominants’ words as a verbal attack. They get defensive and become withdrawn. Hiding their unease like this gives Dominants the impression that everything is fine.

In contrast, when a Stable profile talks to a Dominant, they speak slowly. They pause in conversation without necessarily having finished, which Dominants can’t stand. We often advise the latter to count until five before they speak again to be sure they don’t cut anybody off. In addition, Stable profiles talk about emotions and feelings. They make sure that decisions suit people, which is not habitually the case for Dominants.

Opposition DISC Dominant-Stable
DISC Dominant-Stable opposites

DISC Influential-Conscientious opposites

The relationship between Influential and Conscientious profiles is different. These two profiles openly hate each other, without serious consequences.

Conscientious profiles think of Influentials as smooth talkers, big spenders, pretentious etc. Whereas Influentials see Conscientious profiles as straight-laced types who can’t work in a team, who never speak etc. They are on different wavelengths, but this is no cause for concern.

Practical applications

DISCp4 profiles are easy to use, both for team members and their managers. Our web-site sets out a series of questions (e.g. “in life, you get up in the morning in order to [..]”) and you simply need to choose which of the four possible answers corresponds best to who you are.

The test lasts around fifteen minutes. It must be taken in a quiet place, with no interruptions.


The DISCp4 gauges your communication and behavioral style. It is NOT an IQ test. It does NOT measure intelligence, proficiency, mental health, personal values etc. DISCp4 profiles describe human behavior in different situations, for instance in response to stress, challenges, complex issues, crises, procedures etc.

DISCp4 results are reliable. They are the result of substantial research into behavioral characteristics since the 1930s. They teach you how to adapt your responses to the profile of the person you are talking to or the situation you are in. You will be able to choose not to use comfortable behaviors, i.e. your own, but instead the behaviors which prove the most effective in regard to your contacts.

Marston and Clarke

The DISCp4 model was put forward following research by William Marston Mouton. This American psychologist, also known as the creator of Wonder Woman, published ‘Emotions of Normal People’ in 1928. In this book, which is still a reference today, he explains how emotions lead to differences in behavior among groups and how the behavior of one person can change over time. His work focused on directly observable and quantifiable psychological phenomena.

Marston explains that the behavioral expression of emotions can be classified according to four primary components which result from self-perception in the relation between a person and their environment. These four components are those indicated on the DISCp4: dominance, influence, stability and conformity.

Emotions of Normal People
Emotions of normal people

Marston’s work inspired a personality test by Walter V. Clarke. An industrial psychologist, he was the first person to put together an evaluation tool, using Marston’s theories. In 1956, he published ‘The Activity Vector Analysis (AVA)’, a list of adjectives which he presented to people, asking them to identify the ones which corresponded to them the best. This tool, used by Clarke since 1948 to help companies select staff focuses on four factors: aggressiveness, sociability, emotional control and adaptability.


More effective communication thanks to knowledge of your own profile and that of your contacts. For example, a person with a Dominant (D) profile, who is generally full of energy, will know to speak calmly when addressing a person with a Stable (S) profile.

Better management. Knowing the profile of your co-workers enables you to allocate tasks more effectively depending on objectives and constraints. It also allows for more effective oral and written communication, especially by e-mail, since each profile has its own characteristics. Finally, it allows managers to choose the best team-members for each context.

Now, establish your DISC profile

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