Can Only Four Styles Describe All People?

One of the questions I frequently get when I’m talking about the DISC model, comes down to wrestling with our questioning the idea that there are four styles used to describe the range of normal human behavior under the DISC model. The question comes out this way. “Guy, is it really possible that you can use only four styles to describe all people?” The short answer to that question is, “Yes. I can.”

Here’s how I rationalize that answer.

If you think about the behavior styles described by the DISC model and look at them also as communication styles, you can compare the model to other ways that we draw broad categories of people. Although it’s not a perfect analogy, you can compare the DISC model to the English language. People in the United Kingdom speak English. People in United States speak English. People in the northern part of the US speak English. People in the southern part of the US speak English. People in Canada speak English. People in Australia speak English. While we all speak English, we don’t all speak the same English. Yet, we have millions and millions of people we describe with the term “English” if we allow for the subtle variations in differences in that broader category.

The DISC model has four basic styles of communication or four basic styles of behavior. If we realize that very few people will demonstrate only one of the four styles and we recognize that people actually use a blend of those styles to different degrees, you can see that four styles of communication can be used to described a wide range of singular styles and behaviors.

When you consider the different blends of the four styles, you wind up with 43 broad blends of styles. If you then add the finer detail of considering different levels of blends — higher or lower D trait, higher or lower I trait, etc. — you can arrive at something like 18 or 19,000 different variations within the 43 big picture blends using the four styles. If we allow for the subtlety and variation of the different blends within the four styles, we can then use four basic styles to describe all people on the planet.

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