DiSC® concept of flex

We all benefit from stretching into other styles

meter from green to red showing amount of effort taken

When a person moves into a DiSC style outside their own and exercises those types of behaviors, we refer to that as flexing or stretching.

From the Everything DiSC Manual:

A style is a set of typical response patterns that are expected from a person. However, that doesn’t mean that a person can only exhibit that pattern. For instance, an individual who has been assessed and located in the D quadrant will demonstrate more dominant behaviors and preferences than the average person, but will also, from time to time, show behaviors and preferences that are associated with the other three quadrants.

Flexing is about adapting one’s natural inclinations to the needs of the hour or of another person. So a fast-paced D- or i-style person might flex into an S style when teaching a child a new task. An i- or S-style person might flex into a more skeptical and objective mindset when buying a used car. Flexing is something we all do.

Flexing becomes easier as we practice it. The more we stretch into an unfamiliar or uncomfortable behavior, the more flexible and limber we get. The analogy of a rubber band pinned to your DiSC dot can be helpful. It takes more energy the farther you pull the band. So moving a little way into the style next to yours takes less energy than stretching all the way across the circle. The band becomes easier to stretch the more you stretch it, and always moves back to its original position when you stop.

Our ability to flex is one reason why we don’t use DiSC as a reason not to adapt or as an excuse for bad behavior. Statements like “I’m a C style, you’ll just need to learn not to take my criticisms personally” encourage stereotypes and rigidity, which is the antithesis of what Everything DiSC stands for.

The Everything DiSC Agile EQ model is a good example of how DiSC promotes flexing. It speaks to mindsets rather than styles, but the concept of flexing or stretching is obvious. The model proposes that an emotionally intelligent person is one who:

  1. Recognizes which mindsets are most appropriate in a given situation, and
  2. Stretches to use those mindsets, regardless of how comfortable they are.

Facilitation tip

Each DiSC style has strengths, and it also has challenges or behaviors that can be overused. After discussing the styles with DiSC learners, ask them to share examples of how they have flexed in the past and where they wish they had flexed more easily.

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