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DISC Training Reloaded With Some Neuroscience

If you are an HR Professional or just someone who has been in the corporate environment a while, you have probably gone through DISC training at some point. For those who have not, DISC is one of the major "personality tests" (aka behavioral style assessments) that quantifies how strong you are in four different behavioral areas. The four areas have names corresponding to the DISC acronym: Dominant, Interactive, Supportive, Conscientious, and that is where the problems starts.

Each letter has qualities associated with it, but with names like those who is going to remember any of that?

Dare I even write an article that explains these qualities when the information will just enter in through the reader's eyes and leak out from somewhere else?

Enter the work of Merrick Rosenberg, a prominent team building professional, trainer, author, and speaker who has also been a teacher and mentor of mine for 25 years. Merrick brought in a well-known concept from neuroscience and cognitive learning: we retain things better when we can link them to something we already know.

It is a bit like having file folders in your brain. Creating a brand new file folder takes work, and new folders tend to get lost. On the other hand, it is relatively easy to stick something into an existing folder, especially if that folder is used all the time and will never get lost. Scientifically speaking, if you use a neural pathway a lot, it becomes easier to fire it and less likely to degrade. By taking these DISC styles and tying them to things we already know very well, we can internalize the information, not just memorize it for a few minutes until the training is over. That is because we are not creating a new folder. We are sticking this information into a used one.

The major revelation of Merrick's work falls out of this diagram:

DISC for Medical Device Training

Each behavioral style is represented by a bird: Eagle, Parrot, Dove, and Owl. Instead of calling them Dominant, Interactive, etc., the styles are called by the bird names.

So what? Well, take for example the eagle. If someone is asked to describe the qualities of an eagle, what would that person list?

  • Strong

  • Proud

  • Fearless

  • To the point

By contrast, the person who is asked to list the qualities of a dove might say:

  • Caring

  • Quiet

  • Peaceful

  • Good listener

Now the person looking at this system can readily discern the meaning of each style. We all have decent association folders in our brains for what Eagles, Parrots, Doves, and Owls are like. The problem of memorizing and retaining the styles has been solved.

Now what? For people familiar with DISC training as well as those just finding out about it now, it can be exciting to finally grasp hold of a system that will let them understand themselves and their coworkers on a deeper level. When delivered as a fun interactive module to groups of people having a good time, the lessons learned will stick.

People working on specific project teams can benefit from this model and so can the general corporate population working as support and administration. The application for DISC as taught in this way is broad.

For more information on a half-day or full-day DISC Training using the Taking Flight With DISC Training system, email Josh Simon.

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