Of all the wonderful self discovery assessments and tools out there, my personal favorite is the one I’ll call Interpersonal Styles.  I first came across it in the form of an assessment called Social Style and put out by The Tracom Group.  Like many other such tools, it’s used in many different forms by many different organizations using different names.  I prefer to call it Interpersonal Styles, since it deals primarily with how people work and communicate with others.

One of the primary things that distinguishes it from Myers Briggs or DISC is that it focuses on how others see you rather than how you see yourself.  Done in full format through The Tracom Group, it includes a 360 assessment.  It also includes a “versatility rating,” which measures the degree to which others see you as flexing your style to meet the needs of another.

The best thing about it for me is that the model is very intuitive.  I can present a 10-minute overview to a group of people and have them grasp it immediately, and even make references to it throughout the rest of the meeting.

The model includes two rating scales, one for “assertiveness” and one for “responsiveness,” the latter measuring the degree to which a person shows emotion.  Combining the two scales, there are four distinct styles: expressive, driver, analytical and amiable.  While there are many parallels to the four DISC styles, there are differences also.

When I was first introduced to the model, about 10 years ago, it helped me make an important self-discovery: that while my natural interpersonal style was “expressive,” my colleagues saw me as “amiable,” and this was because I was deliberately cultivating a style I thought was expected of me as an HR person.  I came to realize that it was much more effective to be myself and focus my energies elsewhere.

How about you; what’s your favorite personal discovery tool or assessment and what stories do you have about it?


  1. My favorite is the Herrmann Brain Dominance Inventory because, at it’s heart, it is based on neurological sciences. The resulsts are a self-portrait profile of thinking styles, strenghts and preferences. It’s a positive portrait of what works for us.

    The profile also shows graphically where one concentrates their strengths and where one has opportunities for improvement and personal development. For many this is a wonderful insight into how they think, communicate and work. For example, I have seen many woment discover that they had strengths in logical, analytical and technical thinking — something our culture still tells women that they are weak in.

    The other value for this tool is to get individuals working together with, first, similar preference profiles and then, later, with very dissimilar profiles. There is learning in both situations. When working together with similar styles, the process is pleasing and self-reinforcing. Partners enjoy working together and are very satisfied with their products. And, when looking at other teams’ products, each team realizes that there were parts of the task that they did not see, value or do. Then when working with dissimilar styles, the process of working together is difficult and often fraught with tension. Frequently, the results are mixed because the individuals are not communicating effectively. This allow the group to open discussion about diversity of work and thinking styles, about communication, and about the fact that someone else might enjoy doing work tasks that we dislike, so asking them for help might not be an imposition on them but an valued opportunity to do something they love.

    My favorite comment that always appears is: “I didn’t realize that {they) were doing things that worked for them and could be valuable… I thought they were doing this to drive me crazy.”

    That insight is invaluable!!!

    These personality assessments are often de-valued as not being effective change and learning tools. However, they are good ways to start dialogues and provide perspectives on who we are in relationship to otherhs. And… sometime in the future, we might actually know enough about how the brain works and how personalitiy comes about and grows to actually be able to address it. Until then, these tools work very well — which ever one or ones you choose to use, they can be valuable information to the learning and to the group.

    Thanks for bringing this topic to the foreground again.

    • Thanks as always for your insightful comments, Sharon! Funny, I was just teaching a class yesterday in which someone was singing the praises of the Hermann Brain Dominance Inventory. I have not been exposed to the tool myself, but it certainly sounds like something I need to check out.