About Robert Rohm
Robert A. Rohm, Ph.D. is the foremost expert in the field of communication and relationship development.
RobertRohmVT.com uses the latest technology to deliver his revolutionary concepts around the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Rohm is the author of over 20 books and recognized worldwide as a subject matter expert on the DISC Model of Human Behavior as seen on his PBS Special.
His unique approach involves a highly engaging combination of humor and illustrations to educate, motivate and train people to be more successful in every area of life.
Over two million people have experienced Dr. Rohm’s live seminars to increase personal productivity and reduce interpersonal conflict.
Over one thousand people have graduated from his live certification training program in Atlanta, Georgia. The comprehensive 3-day program allows individuals to become Certified Human Behavior Consultants and to take the training back to their respective fields of interest.
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Frequently Asked Questions
Yes! This is one of the best things about the DISC system. No one is purely a anyone trait. Rather, each of us is a blend of these four traits, to a greater or lesser degree. Your primary trait is the one we identify, but you may have above average amounts of some of the others, as well.
Many university’s behavioral sciences and psychology departments have conducted research into the validity of the Model of Human Behavior. In 1921, Carl Jung published Psychological Types in Germany, identifying and describing four “types.” William Moulton Marston earned his doctorate from Harvard in 1921, and was professor at both Harvard and Columbia Universities. In 1928, he published The Emotions of Normal People, advancing his DISC theory. In the 1950’s, Walter Clark developed an assessment tool based on Marston’s work, the “Activity Vector Analysis.” Today, more than 50 companies use the Marston DISC Theory as the basis for examining patterns of behavior. Experts in psychometrics evaluate the validity of the assessment tool, comparing it (among others) to: Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Cattell 16 Personality Factor Questionnaire, Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI), Strong Interest Inventory, and the Performax Personal Profile. Marston styled assessment tools have been administered to over 30,000,000 people worldwide and they enjoy respect in the business and education communities.
More than 81% of the participant’s colleagues see it as a very accurate picture of his or her habitual behavior patterns. Among those who are primarily “D” in their style, accuracy is rated at 91%; for “I” types, it is 94%. Primarily “S” type individuals perceive an 85% accuracy, while for “C” types, it is 82%. This gives us an 88.49% perceived accuracy, with a standard deviation of 6.43%. In other words, the report generated by this process is perceived as highly accurate, in most situations, by most participants.
Blends are the unique strengths of variety of traits in your personality style. So, a blend is an individual thing. A combination refers to our own blend plus the blends of others as we act, react and interact together. It is within combinations that we experience the stresses and conflicts that cause us to adapt and adjust our own blend to work more successfully with others.
Yes, you can learn to “read” people, but it is more of an “art” than a “science.” In our Model of Human Behavior, we present certain characteristic traits that help us identify styles. As you meet and observe people, you can decide for yourself if they are more “go” (a “D” or “I”) or more “slow” (an “S” or “C”)? Does their “compass” point them more toward tasks (“D” or “C”) or more toward people (“I” or “S”)?
- A “D” is both fast-paced and task-oriented.
- An “I” is both fast-paced and people-oriented.
- An “S” is both slow-paced and people-oriented.
- A “C” is both slow-paced and task-oriented.
This information allows you to relate better to others’ frames of reference by knowing how they will tend to think and respond. Unless you know an individual very well, you will need to reevaluate your thinking about their personality style as you see new traits displayed.
No, there is no best style, although for environment reasons, you might prefer another style. Each style has some wonderful strengths, but with every set of strengths there is a companion set of struggles.
As a quick example, I have a daughter who is quiet and reserved, and once she was baby-sitting for some very active children. When she told them it was time to go get ready for bed, they told her, “We’re not going and you can’t make us.” She told me, “Dad, I think they knew I was an ‘S.’ (Kids have a way of bringing out the real you!) She then said, “So, I lowered my ‘S’ and I raised my ‘D,’ and I told those kids, ‘Your parents left me in charge and if you don’t do what I say right now, I’m telling them and you’ll be in big trouble!’ And they said to me, ‘Okay, we’ll go to bed!’ Then, with a big smile, she told me, “Dad, this stuff really works!”
As we study the styles, we understand why certain people’s traits help them to excel in certain areas. We can learn to imitate those traits for greater success in our own areas of weakness. The good news is that we can grow, change, and mature to demonstrate those traits we admire in other styles.
- “D” motivators tend to be bottom-line, profit and achievement
- “I” motivators tend to be fun, travel and position.
- “S” motivators tend to be helping people, building friendships and appreciation.
- “C” motivators tend to be value, excellence and consistency.
- “D” = Do it now, do it quickly
- “I” = Put it off until later, make it fun
- “S” = Get help from others, use traditional methods
- “C” = Do it yourself, do it properly
- “D” needs challenge and dominance.
- “I” needs recognition and interaction.
- “S” needs appreciation and service.
- “C” needs quality answers and correctness.
- “D” demands its own way.
- “I” attacks personally if it cannot make peace.
- “S” complies with expectations.
- “C” avoids confrontation whenever possible.
Certainly, because finances involve attention to detail. Here is how the four styles look at a budget:
- “D” will go over it briefly but tends not to be detail-oriented. A budget is thought of as a rough estimate that must yield to goals and plans.
- “I” has difficulty making sense of it because it seems too theoretical, rather than being something can be experienced by the senses or valued emotionally.
- “S” will stay under the budget for safety’s sake and will have great stress in weighing people issues against financial constraints when those difficult decisions must be made.
- “C” will stay within the budget, but a savings in one area will be applied to upgrading another area in terms of quality. Goals and plans must yield to the precision of budgeting.
Again, there is no correlation between gender and the traits of “D,” “I,” “S,” or “C”. I have known some incredibly strong male “D’s,” but I have also known some incredibly strong female “D’s.” The same is true among “I,” “S” and “C” traits, as well. In many cultures, females are subservient to males and assume an “S” type posture in their presence. However, when they are among only other females, their “DISC” personality traits are very marked. Studies have shown this to be true among African, South American, American Indian, Asian Indian, Oriental and Pacific cultures. Observe the way little girls and boys play with their toys and you will see that Basic Styles are not gender-based.
Research shows us that however you are wired in your Basic Style is who you are for life. But yes, you should mature in your traits as you work on balancing your personality. We define “maturity” as being able to know and understand the appropriate thing at the appropriate time. A major trauma in your life may temper your display of this style, but your Basic style refers to your core self, not how you have adapted it. In Get Real!, our style assessment for teens, we discuss a “High D” teenager going into the Marine Corps. While he is there, his “D” is under the control of others, and he learns it is not appropriate to act as independently as he might prefer. But, he will still be more comfortable exercising “D” type traits. When he gets out of the service, we will see his “D” traits exercise themselves in decisive ways.
Here is a real life example of selling that applies DISC concepts successfully. Bill Bonnstetter tells it in The Universal Language: DISC, A Reference Manual (Copyright 1993 by Target Training International, Ltd.).
A successful salesman of Pontiac automobiles, who understood the DISC “language” and knew the strengths and weaknesses of his own “S” style, was visited in the showroom by a married couple looking to buy a new vehicle. Observing their behaviors, he recognized that both the husband and wife had “C” type profiles. The couple explained that they had pretty much decided to buy a Ford, but they wanted to gather information on a comparable Pontiac. The salesman understood they would feel they had covered all their bases and would be more comfortable with their predetermined decision to buy the Ford. He also knew that emotionalism and pressure would not help him make a sale. He knew they preferred to remain objective. He offered them the variety of information they had requested in a nonconfrontational, slow-paced manner.
Knowing that they were on their way to the Ford dealership up the street, he recommended that they ask for a particular Ford salesperson, one whom he knew to be a “D,” who did not know anything about personality styles and preferences. Why? Because he expected the “D” Ford salesman would be “pushy” with these cautious buyers. If this happened, perhaps the couple would “sour” on their Ford decision and visit him again to discuss Pontiacs. Predictably, the “D” salesman tried to close the sale immediately. That was enough to throw up the couple’s yellow caution flag. After a few more thoughtful days of collecting information, they returned to the easygoing Pontiac salesman to buy their car.
Did the Pontiac salesperson unfairly manipulate his customers? It is a simple fact that people buy from people they like. For this couple, their feelings about the person from whom they bought their car was more important than the brand of car they bought. Even though they felt they were being objective, they made their decision emotionally: who were they comfortable with? According to Stanford Research, 85% of our success is related to our people skills and only 15% is related to technical skill and ability.
The salesmen discovered that making people happy and the customers’ confidence are very much related to personality styles:
- The higher the “D,” the more he prefers to be in control and decide for everyone else.
- The lower the “D,” the more he prefers to be a team player and decides not to decide.
- The higher the “I,” the more he prefers to be with people and talk things out.
- The lower the “I,” the more he prefers to be alone and think things out.
- The higher the “S,” the more he prefers a stable, unchanging environment.
- The lower the “S,” the more he prefers a varying and changeable environment.
- The higher the “C,” the more he prefers facts, data, structure and order.
- The lower the “C,” the more he prefers emotion, spontaneity and excitement.
For further information, take a look at our book, Who Do You Think You Are… Anyway? This and many other topics concerning how people interact are discussed at length.
Once, after a seminar, a man said to me, “You mentioned that ‘D’ types often make good police officers. I am a little concerned because I’m a police officer, but I am a ‘C.’ Can a ‘C’ make a good policeman?” I was thinking about Columbo and what an excellent investigator a ‘C’ can be, and I thought about how complete a ‘C’s’ reports would be, and how detailed his testimony would be in court. So I asked the man, “What do you do in the police department?” He replied, “I’m on the SWAT Team.” Honestly, I could not picture a ‘C’ battering down a door like a commando, but I asked him one more question: “What do you do on the SWAT Team?” And he replied, “I’m a sniper.” Perfect! If I were in a hostage situation, who would I want aiming at the terrorist who was holding a gun to my head? After all, a “D” tends to work like this: Ready… Fire… Aim! An “I” tends to work like this: Ready… Aim… Talk! An “S” tends to work like this: “Ready… Ready… Ready… (in this case, the “hesitation factor” could kill you!) But a “C” tends to work carefully and accurately, like this: “Ready… Aim… Aim… Aim… I know I would want a very cautious person on that kind of assignment.
It is generally true that any personality style can learn to perform a specific job. But the issues of comfort and fit and area of contribution can be heavily influenced by traits associated with specific styles.
Much more detail on how this information relates to work and environment can be found in the “DISCovering Your Work Design” chapter of Who Do You Think You Are… Anyway?, our Get Real! Teen Profile Assessment, our Adult Profile Assessment, the book Positive Personality Profiles, and in very specific application in your own Success Package ® computer scored Assessment report.
The use of assessment instruments promotes objectivity and can reduce human bias in screening and evaluation. Rather than giving a fuzzy “you’ve got to do better” pep talk or a dark threat of termination during employee reviews, a manager can sit with an employee and say, “Your responses indicate that you really enjoy interaction with people, but that you really don’t consider yourself a detail person. This may be why your reports have been late and why some of your figures didn’t add up. Now that we have identified this area, let’s put together an action plan that will help you meet deadlines and improve accuracy.”
In assembling a work group or project team, a glance at the proposed participant’s profiles will suggest balance or imbalance in desired skills, priorities and orientation. Sharing this information among team members may help them work together more effectively – understanding each other’s communication styles and work habits.
In one hospital we know of, employees wear a little colored button that represents their style, reminding others how to adapt and adjust for improved productivity and harmony. The Human Resources Department reports great excitement and acceptance by the staff and a more ready acceptance of employees as contributing team members.
An automobile dealership invested in six hours of DISC training for its entire sales force. The following Saturday, they broke the dealership’s all-time daily sales record. Soon, they broke their monthly sales record, followed by their all-time weekly record. The General Sales Manager explained their success by learning to think from their customers’ perspectives: “We no longer sell cars. We work to make people happy!”
A “D” type child’s approach to learning is: I want to do things my own way! “D”s want to know what the material is about before they decide if it’s worthy of their time and trouble. They are “big picture” people and want you to be quick and to the point. They want to be in charge, and they often do well in helping to teach the class.
An “I” child’s approach to learning is: I want to do things the fun way! “I”s learn best in a relaxed atmosphere because pressure throws them into panic. They love to learn by playing games and enjoy being creative. They tend to be very tactile. If they can see it or manipulate it, they can understand it.
An “S” child’s approach to learning is: I want to do things the easy way! “S”s do not like a fast pace or change; they want their teacher to slow down so they can process what is happening. They tend toward self-doubt, so they appreciate a teacher going over the information again. They want to please others and feel education is a cooperative process.
A “C” child’s approach to learning is: I want to do things the right way! “C”s expect their questions to be answered with quality information. they love facts and figures. They tend to be perfectionists. Explain expectations beforehand, so they can measure their progress. This environment is in harmony with their basic style. Most enjoy doing extra credit work.
“All that wiggles is not ADHD!”, Katherine Koonce, M.Ed., Director of Charis Learning Resources
An ADD person is inattentive. Attention Deficit Disorder is a real medical condition, not an educational label. The American Psychological Association lists 14 traits in association with ADD, at least eight of which must be displayed frequently in a child before the age of 7. These traits must be manifested for at least six months to be identified as true ADD.
An ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder] person is impulsive, and similar stipulations for diagnosis apply. Recently, other conditions such as Tourette Syndrome have been included in the general category of ADHD.
People with ADD or ADHD have normal to above-normal intelligence, and their attentional problems are not due to mental retardation, deafness, etc. Their challenges are physiological, which is why they respond to certain medications that allow them greater periods of concentration. Too many active, outgoing type children are casually labeled as ADD or ADHD simply because they have a short attention span and have difficulty sitting quietly. It is unwise to lump every problem into one simple solution. Just because people (whether “D,” or “I,” or any other personality style) have difficulty memorizing information or concentrating for long periods of time, they should not be excused from self-discipline and hard work. If your child has difficulty concentrating, I suggest six, 10-minute study periods, rather than one, 60-minute study time. There may be an “incentive” to label children ADD or ADHD within our existing education system. Currently, federal “special education” funds are available to schools and families with ADD and ADHD identified children. Perhaps some people tumble into these categories who do not rigidly fit the definitions.
Understanding personality styles can make all the difference in the world for parents and teachers who see these signs. There is a good chance that altering your style of teaching or communication will produce drastic results!
Research suggests that our current education system works well for 22% of our school age population. What is this environment like? Sit quietly in your seat. Take notes. Store facts. Manipulate data. Raise your hand. Follow a regimen. Stick to the schedule. Ask permission first. Comply with the rules and expectations. Which of the four styles does this sound like to you? Task-Oriented and Reserved/Slower-Paced students do well in this environment, and behavioral research tells us that 20-25% of the general population has a “C” type profile (Task-Oriented and Reserved/Slower-Paced). The remaining 75% of our student population, the ones the system does not accommodate well, are those who have People-Oriented and/or Outgoing/Fast-Paced styles. “D” types are task-oriented, but they don’t stay in their seats and take orders. “I” types are the antithesis of “C” types who succeed in this environment. “S” types are slower-paced, so they can appreciate the tempo, but they are much more influenced by people than data, by feelings than facts.
In the first Rocky movie, the awkward Philadelphia boxer started dating a quiet, shy, plain-looking girl named Adrien, who worked away from people in a small pet store. Rocky’s best friend was Adrien’s brother, Pauly, who asked Rocky what he saw in her. (Why in the world would he want to date her?) In his simplistic manner, Rocky explained, “Because she has gaps!” Pauly looked dumbfounded and asked, “What?” Rocky replied, “You know, ‘g-a-p-s’. She’s got gaps and I got gaps, and between the two of us, our gaps meet and we sort of fill each other in.”
The goal of successful marriages is learning to complete, rather than compete. Whether he realized it or not, Rocky had discovered a profound truth, everyone has gaps. Whether we realize it or not, we are looking for someone to fill our own gaps, our own weaknesses. It is very helpful to know your mate’s gaps: your mate’s behavioral style.
It’s true that “opposites attract… and then opposites attack!” The very things that first attract us to our mates are their “opposite” qualities. When a couple completes the Personality Insights assessments, they can understand each other’s “wiring.”
This information will help a couple to establish priorities and understand the areas in which they can complete each other, along with revealing some of the “potholes in the road” where they will tend to compete with each other.
Marriage and Family Counselors, and Pastors, are encouraged to attend our Certification & Training conferences to become certified in the use of our Assessment tools. Our office would be happy to discuss the use of these materials with counselors.
Pace and Priority are the major issues for many couples throughout life. When one is fast-paced and the other is slow-paced, or when one is task-oriented and the other is people-oriented, expect to experience some conflicts and adjustments. One person likes to go and do, while the other likes to stay and talk… or listen… or read… or think…
The way they couples argue has a lot to do with personality styles. Perhaps one is very vocal and “blows off some steam.” It may be very difficult for a sensitive spouse to “forget” it, because to that spouse, it seems more like smog! If one person goes from mountain top experience to mountain top experience while the other person tends to live in the “valleys” of life, expect to experience some difficulties.
If two “D” types marry, there may be an ongoing battle for control. If two “S” types marry, they may not quarrel much at all, but they may have a hard time deciding even what restaurant to go to, because neither wants to be in control.
As we say in discussing ADD and ADHD, sometimes issues are labeled as behavioral problems, when they may be only a matter of personality “fit.” Many teachers have “S” and “C” personality styles, so they tend to be much more quiet and thoughtful than a “D” or “I” child. If they do not understand a child’s “wiring,” it is easy to dismiss the student as a troublemaker. Classroom harmony and the success of the educational process can be influenced by many issues beyond personality styles, but this may be a good place to start.
Is your child treated like a unique individual who is capable of learning, or is he or she being treated like a database with a capacity to receive input? Sometimes a “D” or “I” teacher, perhaps a coach, values “D” and “I” students because of their shared emphasis on competing and winning. In this environment, less outgoing students may have difficulty that is based on personality “fit.”
Our first recommendation is All About BOTS: All About You!, our self-scoring profile for elementary -age children. You will be surprised by the insights and communication created in sharing this experience with your child. For your teen who is not adjusting, you will find clues in our self-scoring Get Real! teen profile. You and your children can “talk through” the results of the inventories, and you will probably see their self-image and performance improve as a result of understanding themselves in a positive way.
An obstetric and neonatal nurse told us she could spot some behavior indicators shortly after a baby was born. (A “labored” labor is difficult for both mother and child, so it is not always possible to tell if a child is slower-paced or just exhausted…!) There has been some research in this area. Certainly, an infant’s Environment style is learning to adapt quickly to things like gravity, air, light… Questions you can ask yourself are:
- Does this child seem to be compliant or strong-willed?
- Does this child seem to be more restless or more easygoing?
- Does this child seem to respond happily to activity or find it distressing?
- Does this child seem easy to please or difficult to satisfy?
The book written by Dr. Charles F. Boyd, co-authored by Dr. Rohm, Different Children, Different Needs, offers many observations for identifying the styles of small children through teens.
This is an important question, and it is often asked, especially by parents who see their teenagers doing strange things. In Get Real!, our profile assessment for teenagers, I explain it in this way:
Teenagers “try on” different types of behavior as they grow up. Have you heard of the “Terrible Twos,” when toddlers push the limits on parents and others trying to learn where the boundaries are? In adolescence, many mental, physical, emotional and spiritual changes occur. During this time, teens “try on” different behaviors to see how they feel, often imitating people they admire. Usually, when an experimental behavior does not work well, or is frustrating and futile, they give up with little damage done. Any adult can look back on their teenage years and remember how they settled down to the “natural” style they had when they were younger. That’s why the Bible says “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is older, he will not depart from it.”
The basic personality we are born with is probably seen best between the ages of 4-14, then goes into a tailspin from 14-18, and then smoothes out and produces a great life from 18 and older. Although they are not “required,” the turbulent teen years seem to be a “fact of life” that most people experience. In Who Do You Think You Are… Anyway?, I have written: Parents, can you remember your own energy at this age? How about your dreams for achievement or greatness in ways your family did not understand? As you matured, you put a lot of that “silliness” away. But in doing so, I hope you have not become like the people one teenager described when he said, “Most grown-ups are really given-ups!”
As your teenagers go through adjustments, keep your finger on their pulse. If their heart is still warm and tender, and their will is pliable, thank God. I like this thought from Logan Pearsall Smith: “Don’t laugh at a youth for his affectations; he’s only trying on one face after another till he finds his own.” For added perspective as a parent, find your own face in an old high school yearbook! It may help you remember some of the experiences and phases you came through in order to become the reasonably sane and responsible adult you are today. Therefore, while your children are “finding their face,” you won’t lose your mind!
Of course, the DISC Model is not discussed in the Bible, but neither is chemistry or hydroelectric engineering, even though all of these are based on elements and principles that have existed since time began. In Dr. Robert Rohm’s book, Positive Personality Profiles, we provide examples of personality styles seen in Jesus’ disciples.
Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.” A good translation from Hebrew into English is: “Train a child according to his way…” It refers to a unique inner design or direction. It does not refer to some prescribed path that everyone should follow. Therefore, as Dr. Charles Boyd notes, a more accurate rendering of this verse would be: “Adapt the training of your child so that it is in keeping with his natural design; when he comes to maturity, he will not depart from that pattern of life.” Practical stuff, isn’t it? The verse actually instructs us to nurture our children according to their nature!
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