Humans have been attempting to figure themselves out as well as others for as long as we’ve been able to think. The DISC personality model was developed by Dr. William Marston, a physiological psychologist, and is explained in further detail in his book Emotions of Normal People, published in 1928.

His DISC framework discusses how dominant one personality trait might be over another although, we do not have just one trait and are all a mix. According to an article on LifeHacker, these traits include:

  • Dominance
  • Influence
  • Steadiness
  • Conscientiousness

Generally for those with each characteristic:

  • Dominance: He or she wants to shape the environment by overcoming opposition to accomplish results. The person wants to win and likes competition, challenges, taking action and getting immediate results. He or she can be direct, strong-willed, self-confident but lacks concern for others, can be impatient and may fear vulnerability. When talking with those with dominant characteristics discuss the result, be brief, focus the discussion, avoid generalizations and talk about solutions more than problems.
  • Influence: The person emphasizes shaping the environment by influencing or persuading others. He or she may be impulsive, disorganized and lack follow-through but can be convincing, magnetic, enthusiastic, warm, trusting and optimistic. This person wants popularity and to act, collaborate and expresses enthusiasm. He or she is motivated by social recognition and relationships and fears disapproval and being ignored. If you’re communicating with this type of individual talk about your experiences, allow the person time to ask questions and talk. You want to focus on the positives, don’t emphasize details or interrupt them.
  • Steadiness: There’s an emphasis on cooperation with others to carry out the task. The person looks for opportunities to help others and seeks sincere appreciation. He or she will prioritize giving support, collaboration and maintaining stability and may be calm, patient, predictable, deliberate, stable and consistent. The person may also be indecisive, too accommodating, want to avoid change and fears loss of stability and offending others. When talking to this type of individual be personable and amiable. Discuss your interest in them and what you expect from them. Be polite and avoid being confrontational or overly aggressive.
  • Conscientious: This person probably emphasizes ensuring quality and accuracy. He or she is looking for opportunities to gain knowledge, show their expertise and perform quality work. The person may focus on accuracy, maintaining stability and challenging assumptions. He or she may be careful, cautious, systematic, diplomatic, accurate and tactful but can also suffer from being overcritical. He or she may also over-analyze problems and can isolate themselves. The person may fear criticism and being wrong. When talking to this kind of person discuss facts and details while avoiding “pep talk” or emotional language. You need to be patient, persistent and diplomatic.

When you negotiate or enter into mediation, you may need to work with all kinds of people. If you have a history with the other party and the party’s attorney you may have an idea of the category or categories they fall into. By engaging with your client and attaining insight into his or her background and personality, the DISC model can help you decide what characteristics are more dominant in the client and which communication approach could be more effective to help you, and your client, reach your goals.

Steve Mehta is a professional full-time mediator who specializes in mediating complex and emotional cases. A leading Los Angeles mediator, Mr. Mehta has been repeatedly selected as a Super Lawyer in mediation and is highly regarded by both sides to mediation. To schedule mediations, please visit SteveMehta.com