Mar 10, 2022 | 4
Minute Read

4 Ways to Adapt Your DISC Style Without Burning Out


DISC is an incredibly popular assessment tool for a reason; it’s comprehensive, actionable, and easy to understand. But what happens when your DISC profile reveals that your current position isn’t a great fit?

One of the ways that you can determine this through a DISC profile is by looking at both your Natural and Adapted scores.

The Natural Graph shows an individual’s natural behavior, or how they prefer to do what they do and it’s shown to the right in DISC assessments. The Adapted Graph shows how an individual adapts their behavior to fit the situation they are in and it’s shown to the left in DISC assessments.



Why Are Natural and Adapted Styles Important?

Oftentimes in hiring, the job benchmarking process reveals whether someone’s Natural behavior lines up well with the job description and responsibilities. However, finding that fit isn’t always a possibility before hiring. If you currently find yourself in a role that requires a lot of adaptation, you will be a high risk for burning out.

What Is Burnout?

Burnout is “a special type of work-related stress — a state of physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and loss of personal identity,” according to the Mayo Clinic.

Brain burnout is commonly equated to stress but it’s more than that; “Unlike general stress, brain burnout manifests as emotional damage, suppression, detachment, and depression,” says Dr. Ron Bonnstetter. Senior Vice President of Research and Development at TTI SI.

Over-adapting can result in burnout because it requires a lot of effort! If your job requires you to dramatically shift your behavior, you’re going to feel pressure and fatigue at an enhanced rate.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed in a role that requires adaptation! You just need to be conscious of how you go about it.

Here are 4 ways to adapt your DISC style without burning out!


Explain Your Natural Style to Your Team

Adaptation might be necessary for your role, but misunderstanding doesn’t need to be. If you work hard to really understand your Natural style, you’ll be able to explain to your team exactly what you need from them while interacting in the workplace.

This will work best if your whole team is on the same page and understand their styles as well, so take advantage of a Team Report! By learning the basic do’s and don’t’s of interacting with your team, you can invest in understanding them and their preferences and will see that value return to you.


For example, if you’re a high S who frequently needs to pivot in your role, you can lay out expectations for briefs before projects with pre-agreed check-ins. By establishing a cadence ahead of time, your team can respect your Steady sensibilities even if you need to switch things up and be adaptive when the actual project begins.

Likewise, if you’re a low S, you can establish frequent quick brainstorming sessions with other fast-paced folks. These sessions will let your mind roam free and allow you to talk through potentially risky ideas or processes without immediate consequences. It will give you the fast pace you’re after but in a controlled environment where ideas can evolve.


Rethink Your Structures

A lot of people will jump to changing their behavior first in a situation that feels uncomfortable, but that might not be the logical step. Your unique point of view and Natural style might be the key to innovating in the position. If everyone had the same point of view, you’d get the same results, over and over!

Adapting isn’t off the table but it’s important to challenge when reviewing the role and your responsibilities. Can your tasks be restructured in a different, more accessible way? Making your job work for you is one of the best things you can do in your role. Positions are created to serve people, not the other way around, so think outside the box for your best results.


Let’s use Compliance as an example. If you’re a high C, you can enter a disorderly role and create the system you want to use moving forward to back up your responsibilities and quiet the chaos. If you’re a low C, you can use your Pioneering behavior to re-evaluate the structure of your role and question how effective it really is.


Meet With Your Opposite Style

Getting an outside perspective might be exactly what you need to boost your behavior. If you’re feeling stuck, be it in the role itself, a certain situation, or a task at hand, you can pick the brain of someone on your whose natural style is close to your adaptation. Ask lots of questions:

  • How do they normally approach challenges like the one you’re facing?
  • Where are the differences between their approach and your approach?
  • Is there a way to meet in the middle?

Rely on the expertise of others to help bolster your own behavior and successfully navigate your workplace. Getting a fresh perspective might be exactly what you need to boost out of burnout.

For example, if you’re a high D talking with a Reflective person can help you gracefully manage a conflict. A low D can use a more Direct approach to lay down a boundary or communicate clearly in a tough situation.


Make Stress Relief a Priority


One of the best ways to beat burnout is simply to rest! While stress contributes to burnout, they aren’t the same thing:

If you’re a High I, schedule a phone call or two after a burst of productivity. This will help you recharge your high social battery and give you something to look forward to after a period of isolation.

If you’re a Low I, make sure you have scheduled blocks of uninterrupted solitary work after a high contact period. You need to unwind and decompress after a lot of people contact so make sure you do that.

You need to schedule time into your calendar to decompress according to your Natural style. This needs to be taken as seriously as the deliverable tasks in your position.



Adaptation Made Easier

Adapting in a role isn’t necessarily a recipe for disaster as long as you go about it the right way! Make sure to communicate clearly, challenge pre-existing structures, connect with different styles and make decompressing a priority to adapt your DISC style.

If you want to see what all of the talk is about and take a DISC assessment with TTI SI, get the info you need here.

If you’re interested in joining the TTI SI network, take your next step.

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Jaime Faulkner