Whenever you come across DISC, you’ll often see the four personalities represented using colours. While there’s some variation between different DISC assessments, one version is common: Dominance is bright, fiery red, Influence is a warm sunshine yellow, Steadiness is an earthy and calming green, and Compliance is a cool and icy blue.
But what exactly do the colours mean? Why have they been chosen to represent each of the four DISC types? And how can the colours increase our understanding of each style?
Here’s everything you need to know about DISC and its colours.
What is DISC?
DISC is a behavioural model first created by the psychologist William Moulton Marston in his 1928 book Emotions of Normal People. He proposed that personality can be understood through four central traits: Dominance, Inducement, Submission, and Compliance. The traits determine a person’s behaviours and the way they interact with their environment.
The first ever DISC assessment was developed by industrial psychologist Walter Clarke in 1956, based on Marston’s theories. Since then, the DISC assessment has developed into the powerful personality assessment that over a million people use today each year. Slightly different from Marston’s original conception, a person taking the assessment will learn how their personality fits into the categories Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance. A person might fall mainly into one of the categories (if they are high in Compliance, they are referred to as a ‘High C’) or a combination or multiple.
Understanding one’s personality type is a great way to better understand behaviours, preferences, strengths, limitations, and communication styles in the workplace. Many organisations use DISC to improve communication and leadership among their employees. To learn more about the ROI of DISC assessments, you can read our blog on the topic.
So, what does the colour wheel have to do with DISC, and how can colours help us better understand the personality types?
The Dominance personality type
People with the Dominance personality tend to be ambitious self-starters who love working independently and being free to take risks to achieve their goals. Preferring to focus on results and the big picture rather than the nitty-gritty, people with this DISC personality often see themselves as natural leaders. They might be competitive or even sometimes impatient with people who don’t see the world the way they do, which can sometimes cause conflict or resentment in the workplace. Nonetheless, people with this profile often drive results.
Red is a powerful, bright colour that draws attention to itself. Think of a big stop sign, a firetruck, a spicy chili pepper, or a red carpet. Like the D style personality, red is a colour that isn’t afraid to stand out from the crowd. Decisive and confident, people with the Dominance personality style are the perfect match with this fearless and eye-catching colour.
The Influence personality type
People with the Influence personality type are enthusiastic, warm, and people-oriented. I styles are often the people who get to know others easily and enjoy working together in teams or being the centre of attention. They’re good at motivating others with their positive personality and have great people skills which are valuable in any workplace. Sometimes spontaneous or even idealistic, people with the Influence personality may have a tendency to generalise or overlook details. However, they’re extremely valuable people to have on any team because of the strength of their people skills and motivational abilities. Bold and often creative, these personality types don’t like to feel bored or independent as much as they enjoy big collaborative projects with other people.
Yellow is the colour of the sun’s warm rays falling from the sky, just like the warm and friendly personalities of Influence types. It’s a positive and fun colour that captures the optimism of individuals with the I DISC profile. Think of the bright yellow of a bee’s stripes as it busies itself pollinating flowers and buzzing sociably around the hive. Yellow honey bees are social creatures, just like people-focused Influence styles. They exist as part of a collective and work best in a team, making yellow the perfect hue on the colour wheel to symbolise the Influence personality type’s behaviour.
The Steadiness personality type
Dependable and hardworking, people with the Steadiness profile are at their best when quietly working in a team in a harmonious work environment. S styles are great listeners who are easy to get along with, even if they may sometimes seem reserved or cautious at first. Enjoying a slower pace of work and life, they are very even-tempered, agreeable and democratic team members. Steadiness types value routine and regularity, which can make them sometimes resistant to change, and they dislike taking risks. This means that they will continue to do things in the same way that they’ve always done, unless someone else changes things.
Green is the perfect shade on the colour wheel to symbolise the Steadiness personality type. Think of rolling green hills covered in grass that gently sways in the wind — that’s this DISC profile through and through. Harmonious and peaceful, the natural shade of green matches S types’ love of slow-paced work, listening to others, and being agreeable. Earth green is a calming colour that promotes thoughtfulness, comfort, and rest, all things that a person with this personality will value.
The Compliance personality type
The final personality profile in DISC is Compliance, which some places also refer to as Conscientiousness. People with this style of personality are analytical and cautious, approaching problems methodically by asking lots of questions and doing extensive research. They can be creative and accurate in their work, tending to strive for perfection as much as possible. They do this through careful planning and independent work, often preferring to handle a task themselves rather than delegate it and risk it not being completed to their specification. Compliance types love following the rules and regulations and can take a long time to make decisions because of their natural caution and tendency to focus on the details. While their analytical mindset and creativity are a strength, they sometimes risk falling into the pitfall of perfectionism due to their critical nature.
Blue is the colour of an icy glacial lake or a clear sky. It’s a colour associated with inspiration and analysis, embodying the creative and methodical nature of Compliance types. While cool blue isn’t an overly eye-catching or aggressive colour, it’s quietly effective and can achieve great results — think of the beautiful blue wings of a butterfly or the soothing tones of a blue-painted room. Although ‘blue’ colloquially refers to feeling sad or low, there’s nothing depressing about the colour itself which encourages us to work calmly and accurately. Blue reminds us to consider the details and think carefully, two strengths that are typical of a person with the Compliance profile.
DISC is a valuable tool to improve communication, leadership, and self-introspection in any workplace. By encouraging a team to take DISC assessments and analyse and discuss their results, it’s possible to build stronger teams where individuals better understand each other.
If you’re interested in unlocking the potential of your people using personality assessments, DISC Group offers a range of versatile DISC reports and training. Get in touch today to find out more about the benefits of DISC assessments in your organisation.