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We previously introduced a short-cut to “people reading,” using one of the two dimensions of human behavior - pace. We choose pace as the first criteria because (1) it can be easily observed, and (2) pace is an indicator of decision-making style. How fast someone moves predicts how quickly they will make decisions. Good to know in a new business relationship. A salesperson, for example, should adapt her pace to the prospect’s, so not to move too quickly or slowly toward a sale.

After practicing the observation of pace, we are ready to evaluate on the second dimension of human behavior, Acceptance, a preference for people or facts. We ask, “is she more Questioning and Skeptical, or Warm and Accepting?” Sometimes it is obvious. If he is extra “bubbly” and enthusiastic, he tends to orient toward people. If he wants to go straight to the spreadsheets without any chit-chat, he is likely more logical.

But it is not always obvious. The Acceptance dimension can be more difficult to read than Pace. Remember that personality style is only one driver of behavior. We adapt our natural styles when the situation calls for it. That especially applies to human interactions. Most people want to be known as warm and friendly, even if they are among the 50% of the population more driven by facts and logic. Neither is right or wrong, and “it takes all kinds.” But society encourages warm and accepting behavior. A more questioning and skeptical person might mask that tendency in social situations and intentionally or unconsciously come across as warm and accepting. When guessing on the Acceptance dimension, we will often mistake a logical person for a warm one.

Be patient, and do not rush to judgment. Look for clues beyond the person’s observable behavior. My friend Erin and her team of professional organizers will guess a client’s personality style based on how their home is arranged. You can do the same by observing her office or work area. Look at the walls. If they are covered floor to ceiling with pictures of family and teams, she is likely more people focused. If there are charts and graphs, or not much of anything, she is probably more factual, questioning, and skeptical.

Putting it Together: The Two Dimensions of Human Behavior

To guess someone’s personality style, answer these questions:

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We previously introduced a short-cut to “people reading,” using one of the two dimensions of human behavior - pace. We choose pace as the first criteria because (1) it can be easily observed, and (2) pace is an indicator of decision-making style. How fast someone moves predicts how quickly they will make decisions. Good to know in a new business relationship. A salesperson, for example, should adapt her pace to the prospect’s, so not to move too quickly or slowly toward a sale.

After practicing the observation of pace, we are ready to evaluate on the second dimension of human behavior, Acceptance, a preference for people or facts. We ask, “is she more Questioning and Skeptical, or Warm and Accepting?” Sometimes it is obvious. If he is extra “bubbly” and enthusiastic, he tends to orient toward people. If he wants to go straight to the spreadsheets without any chit-chat, he is likely more logical.

But it is not always obvious. The Acceptance dimension can be more difficult to read than Pace. Remember that personality style is only one driver of behavior. We adapt our natural styles when the situation calls for it. That especially applies to human interactions. Most people want to be known as warm and friendly, even if they are among the 50% of the population more driven by facts and logic. Neither is right or wrong, and “it takes all kinds.” But society encourages warm and accepting behavior. A more questioning and skeptical person might mask that tendency in social situations and intentionally or unconsciously come across as warm and accepting. When guessing on the Acceptance dimension, we will often mistake a logical person for a warm one.

Be patient, and do not rush to judgment. Look for clues beyond the person’s observable behavior. My friend Erin and her team of professional organizers will guess a client’s personality style based on how their home is arranged. You can do the same by observing her office or work area. Look at the walls. If they are covered floor to ceiling with pictures of family and teams, she is likely more people focused. If there are charts and graphs, or not much of anything, she is probably more factual, questioning, and skeptical.

These two dimensions of human behavior form the Everything DiSC® model, below. DiSC® provides a language and a graphical representation of our diverse personalities. Pace is represented vertically on the DiSC circle, fast-paced at the top, cautious at the bottom. “Acceptance” is shown left to right. Warm and accepting on the right, questioning and skeptical on the left. The resulting four quadrants represent our basic styles: D-Dominant, i-Influence, S-Steadiness, and C-Conscientious.

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People reading can help jump-start relationships. However, it is an inexact science. Humans are complex, and difficult to encapsulate with just two questions. To up your people reading game, participate in an Everything DiSC facilitated learning session with your team. Or, just take an Everything DiSC assessment. Unlike other DISC versions out there, Everything DiSC uses research-driven adaptive testing . It will generate new questions based on your previous answers. For example, if you answer two questions contradictorily, it will create a “tie-breaker” question. This greatly improves assessment reliability and validity and provides a deeper analysis in a shorter time. In about 15 minutes, the assessment provides a 20-page personalized report. You will be amazed how accurately it describes your tendencies. More than just an impressive magic trick, though, it will help you interact more effectively with people who aren’t like you.

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People Reading Takeaways:
  • Read, don’t judge. All personality styles are equally valuable.
  • First, evaluate the person’s pace. Ask, “is she more Fast-Paced and Outspoken, or more Cautious and Reflective?”
  • Next, guess whether she is more people or logic oriented. Ask, “is she more Warm and Accepting or more Questioning and Skeptical?”
  • Then, mentally place a dot in the appropriate quadrant – D, i, S, or C.
  • Practice, practice, and yes, PRACTICE.
  • Participate in an Everything DiSC Facilitated Learning Event or complete an assessment individually.
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Todd Bradberry MBA is Founder and CEO of Parallel Management Company, helping organizations drive strategy and culture - in parallel. Reach him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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