DISC Patterns Explained – Compressed DISC Patten (DISC)

When a pattern is produced where all four DISC factors are very close to one another, it represents a special case and is labeled as a “Compressed DISC Pattern” or a “Flat Line” Pattern. When the scores are within a set range determined by our algorithm, it indicates that none of the DISC factors are significantly higher or lower in comparison to the others. Meaning that the pattern cannot be interpreted with any level of authority and cannot be discussed for distinct or governing attributes. Although this profile is a result of the test, it cannot be used in the same way as the other patterns. It cannot be characterized by specific qualities, but certain inferences can be made.

This unusual pattern usually results as one of five possibilities:

  1. The candidate completed the DISC questionnaire incorrectly or
  2. The pattern represents a person’s perceived behavioral style, a fixed and fairly narrow view of how they see themselves.
  3. This person behaves according to what other people expect of them all the time; shifting their behavior for the person they are with and for the situation they are facing – much like a behavior chameleon.
  4. The participant took the assessment with a view to making them appear to be different than what they are inside.
  5. The results depict an individual who is under a severe amount of stress at the moment in time when they took the assessment tool.
A Compressed DISC Pattern is usually an outcome of a mistake or misunderstanding on the part of the participant.

When the DISC questionnaire result is a Compressed DISC Pattern, it typically is not realistic with regard to how someone might behave. This can be a bona fide representation of your answers and how you selected them, but these cannot be reliably interpreted because of their compacted baseline scores. This result could have happened because the participant misunderstood some of the questions on the questionnaire or deliberately attempted to answer the results according to what they think the test results should be; rather than being brutally honest in their self-assessment.

You could have answered evasively and changed your answers to fit a style you think you rather want to be or you think would be a good outcome for someone else – for example, if you knew an executive coach was going to read the results you might have skewed the results to appear different than what you feel inside in an effort to look better in coach’s eyes. Fortunately, the comprehensiveness of the assessment will not allow this to occur. It will flag instances like this because it checks for inconsistencies and incongruencies.

If you have received a Compressed DISC Pattern result after taking the DISC questionnaire, this can mean a few things. It can represent a real aspect of your behavior. The interpretation of ‘true’ Compressed DISC Patterns will depend on two areas: External and Internal.

Externally, the Compressed DISC Pattern usually means that you were confused while taking the questionnaire.

You may be unsure of the type of behavior that you should be showing in your current life situation. An example of this is during an interview situation, where you may be unsure of the behavioral needs necessary of the role or job. In an attempt to be the best possible candidate, you may answer depending on what you think the interviewer wants to see.

The external issues of the compressed usually are short-term pressures in your life, such as moving, a new job, loss of a loved one, illness in the family, being ill yourself or fatigued, working on a project that is all-consuming and draining, working with someone on a day-to-day basis with whom you have a less than desirable relationship, or because of the strain of financial problems. If you are changing locations or under stress, you may not be answering as you would if you were calm and relaxed.

Internally, you may be involved with events or circumstances that are placing you under pressure or stress, such as long-term events.

In this case, your life situation will likely have a more distinct effect on your behavior and how you answer the DISC questionnaire.

If you have received a Compressed DISC Pattern and are absolutely certain that this directly reflects your personality, then you could be a “jack of all trades” or have the behavioral flexibility of a “chameleon on a rainbow”. Let’s look at this Compressed DISC Pattern from another perspective: Imagine you are introduced to a new person at a social gathering. The person is humorous, intelligent, and adventurous. They are sensitive, authoritative, understanding, and confident, yet also very careful. As you get to know this person more closely, you start seeing that he represents every aspect of DISC and is Dominant, Influential, Steady, and Compliant. You keep waiting for one factor to become more apparent, and it doesn’t. As you get to know him, you start to feel uneasy; trying to figure out their governing factor; knowing that there is no way that he doesn’t have one!

The truth is, we all know that people have their strong points and weaknesses. When you fail to display a governing factor in your life to define who you are, people begin to become wonder why you don’t display a behavior compass, pointing one way or another. When this happens, they become wary of your motives or distrustful because they can’t figure you out. They may believe that you are either faking it or are being manipulative for some reason.

Most of us can generalize our friends’ behavioral tendencies and say what factor or factors are most distinct in their behavior and personality.

After getting to know someone, I can sum them up as a result of a combination of factors that I have witnessed based on their work ethic, likes, and dislikes, and from conversations, we’ve had. That helps me to know what I can expect from them. My friends with Elevated Compliance will always have things done on time by the book; while my Steadiness factor friends may take longer but will likely be more creative.

Then again, my more Dominant friends might change the original idea from top to bottom, making it more of their goal instead of anyone else’s! But you can take it to the bank that it will get accomplished! My Influence based friends will talk it through; making sure that everyone is as comfortable as possible. So, you can see, I look for patterns and try to assess what people will do based on how I view their governing behavior factors.

When someone has a Compressed DISC Pattern, the expected behavior is hard to determine.

If all of your factors are equal, there is no way to predict how you will act or what you will do, which makes people uncomfortable. You may react differently at every single situation, making people nervous that you’re so fickle and unpredictable. Most people like things to be consistent; rather than mercurial. If you are always changing, you will make people nervous and they will not know what to expect.

Although we all want to appear as the perfect combination of all factors, the truth is that we all have preferences to how we like things and how we want them to be. If you have no preferences, you must realize that people will be distrustful and suspicious of you.

And remember, there are no right or wrong answers according to DISC assessments – there are just the governing behaviors at the moment.

The bottom line: If your results point to a Compressed DISC Pattern, I suggest that you take the DISC questionnaire again and answer the questions to the best of your ability based on your candid views of what your genuine preferences are. Although you may wish to answer in order to get “the best profile,” you must answer honestly or else it will not be an accurate portrayal of your preferred behavior.

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CEO, Indaba Global Coaching, LLC


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Founder DISCflex

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