Binary Things (or)
Many characteristics of human beings are either-orkinds of distinctions. We are either male or female. We are alive or dead. Many of us talk of introversionor extroversion as if it were a binary thing. We speak as if people are either one or the other. Many people are surprised to learn that we even have a term for those in-between, ambiverts. With this new found knowledge, we then want to divide people into three categories instead of just two.
Things on a Continuum
Other things are on a continuum (kənˈtinyo͞oəm):
n: a continuous sequence in which adjacent elements are not perceptibly different from each other, although the extremes are quite distinct.
This is the nature of introversion, ambiversion and extroversion. We each have a place along the continuum relative to everyone else. At the two extremes, the difference is profound and meaningful. At every point along the continuum relative to others nearby, the differences are quite subtle.
This is also the case with the four dimensions of behavioral style we measure with DISC. The D continuum ranges from 0-100 and indicates our approach to problems and challenges. The I continuum ranges from 0-100 and indicates our approach to people and contacts. The S continuum indicates our approach to pace and change. Lastly, the C continuum indicates our approach to procedures and compliance. So the composite DISC score of any individual is actually the combination of four scores along four continua.
Finding Our Place on the Continuum with DISC
There are several available means of measuring introversion-extroversion. The most popular is probably the Myers Briggs Typology Indicator (MBTI), due to its connection to Carl Jung, the originator of the modern theory of extroversion-introversion. Though Jung’s theory reflected an awareness of the continuum, the results tend to be spoken of in binary terms, I vs. E.
I have found that the DISC with its four continua (two are related to extroversion and two to introversion) may be a better way to get a nuanced understanding of one’s place along the continuum.
There are two distinct facets of extroverted behavior:
- D extroversion (at the high side of the continuum) is fast-paced, results oriented extroversion. It loves challenge and winning. It is often described with adjectives like: driven or direct.
- I extroversion (at the high side of the continuum) if also fast-paced, but is more people-oriented. It is optimistic, winsome, gregarious and charismatic. It is often described with adjective like: influential or inspiring.
There are also two distinct facets of introverted behavior:
- S introversion (at the high side of the continuum) is slow-paced, people-oriented introversion. It is extremely loyal, logical and . It is often described with adjectives like: steady or stable.
- C introversion (at the high side of the continuum) is slow-paced, task-oriented introversion. It tends to be precise, detail-oriented, and quality-oriented. It is often described with adjectives like: compliant or correct.
So, the best question is not a binary question: Are you introverted or extroverted, but a question that reflects the presence of a continuum: What kind of introvert / ambivert / extrovert are you?
Here’s a way to do that. If you plot your DISC scores along each of the four dimensions on the following chart, you can see how may of your four scores fall into relevant sections:
The more scores that fall into the strong boxes connected to introversion or extroversion, the clearer the trait. The more scores that fall into the moderate boxes, the more an ambiverted temperament is indicated.
You can also find yourself according to your two highest scores (or one singular score if it stands alone) on this chart and begin to see what kind of introvert / extrovert you may be:
You’ll notice that the D, I, DI, and ID patterns are consistent with the extrovert ideal in our American culture, the idea that mental health and leadership are connected to how extroverted someone is. In this paradigm, every other pattern outside of the shaded area potentially feels lacking.
If you’ve never taken the DISC and are interested in taking the assessment as a way to better understand where you fall along the continuum, please contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org