The scene below from Woody Allen’s 2008 movie “Vicky Cristina Barcelona” is a fantastic display of different personality types interacting.
- The open, impulsive Cristina, who is only interested in having fun now and might throw all caution out the window.
- The suspicious, critical Vicky, who over-analyzes things, doesn’t take any risk and might therefore drain the fun out of anything
- And Juan Antonio, who knows exactly what he wants, states it clearly in a take-it-or-leave-it kind of way and doesn’t care what anyone thinks of him (let alone about details… “I know your names; you’re beautiful – what else is important?”)
According to the DiSC model we could say that
- Cristina shows the behavior of an impulsive, inspired “I“
- Vicky acts like a cautious, critical “C“
- And Juan Antonio is a dominant, driving “D” in this scene
No submissive, serving and caring “S” can be spotted until the very end of the scene when we see that Vicky joins them against her better judgment, just to make sure her friend Cristina doesn’t get into any trouble.
What can we learn from this scene?
You can see how the characters in the above scene don’t understand each other’s initial reactions. Each of them wonders why the other one is either “naive”, “stuck-up”, “aggressive” or “out of their mind”. We all behave, act and react according to our own, unique and specific values, needs, motivational drivers, beliefs and upbringing. Yes, we are all different!
We can observe those differences on a daily basis in our work teams, with our customers, with our partners, neighbors, friends or kids. How often do we roll our eyes at someone, judge someone’s intelligence or simply question their actions?
Learning about personality types – whether it’s DiSC, The Enneagram, MBTI or any other model – helps us to understand where people are coming from and why they behave the way they do. Having this understanding enables us to be more tolerant and less judgmental of others.
Every behavior follows a positive intention.
People behave in ways that make sense to them at the time. If their behavior doesn’t make sense to us, we need to get interested in their intention in order to either solve a conflict, or simply respect their behavior, or create a common ground to move on from here.
Also, understanding our own personality type helps us to become aware of how other people see us and how we may trigger undesired responses from them with our own behavior. This awareness enables us to change our approach in different situations, with different people, in order to create more favorable responses and avoid conflicts. Understanding ourselves puts us in the driver’s seat!
Granted, our personality type is only one piece in the big puzzle of truly understanding ourselves. An introduction to DiSC Personality Types however is part of all my coaching sessions – whether it is individuals or groups of managers. It amazes me time and time again what a big difference such a small eye opener can make.
Did you recognize yourself in any of the characters above?
None of us is 100% one type. The above description of the characters goes only for that particular scene. We may be able to spot different behaviors of each character in other scenes of the movie. Just like in our lives: while we do have naturally dominant character traits, we might show up differently in different situations. And we can always CHOOSE to act and react differently once we are aware of our initial, natural behavior. Nothing is set in stone. That’s the beauty of it all. People can change.