DiSC® - Understanding the C (Conscientious) Style

Posted by Bill Harshman on

In today’s DiSC® lesson, we will discuss a deeper and broader understanding of the C or (Conscientious) style.  This will be helpful whether it is YOU who are a C style, or if it is someone else with whom you are dealing that is a C style. 

Before we dive deeper, I have always encouraged learners to maintain a couple important pieces of baseline knowledge. These two pieces are critical to understanding DiSC®.  (This is especially for first-time readers of my blogs)

First are the Cornerstone Principles that we’ve discussed before:

  • All DiSC®styles are equally valuable
  • Everyone is a unique blend of all DiSC®styles, and people tend toward one or two styles
  • Your unique style is also influenced by other factors such as life experiences, education, and maturity

Second is the Basic DiSC® Styles Model:


A person’s DiSC® style is decided by the intersection of two dimensions of observable behaviors (including body language, tone of voice, expression, and word choice):

The vertical dimension is known as PACE (or outward activity level) described as either Fast-paced & Outspoken OR Cautious & Reflective.  The horizontal dimension is known as your AGREEABLENESS quotient.  This means those who are “less agreeable” place a lower PRIORITY (concern) for cooperation and social harmony, and we refer to them as “Questioning & Skeptical” on the left end of this dimension.  A general term for them might be result-focused.  Those who are “more agreeable” place a higher PRIORITY on cooperation and social harmony and we refer to them as “Accepting & Warm” on the right end of this dimension.  A general term for them might be people-focused.

*It is the interaction between these TWO continua which forms the 4 quadrants (or basic styles) of the DiSC® model, AND by which you identify a person’s DiSC® style.

I want to start with a definition of Conscientious that we are likely familiar with to help calibrate the reader and provide a common baseline of understanding as we proceed.  Oxford defines Conscientious as follows:  (of a person) wishing to do what is right, especially to do one's work or duty well and thoroughly.

I’d say that’s a pretty good starting point from our daily lives.  And for other words that may appeal to you, we go to the thesaurus:

  • diligent
  • fastidious
  • meticulous
  • painstaking
  • complete
  • exacting

DiSC® will provide much more interpretation and meaning to this style label we call Conscientious.

With our focus on the C style, let’s break down this interaction a bit more


We’ll start with PACE.  We see that C & S share a cautious & reflective PACE.  Using the C as our example Style today, we see that C & S share some of the same “language” by nature of their similar PACE.  In other words, if they have a similar PACE, they are more likely to be able to understand one another sooner and easier . . . than if they had a dissimilar PACE.  Putting that another way, they each know a little bit about the language of the other with whom they are interacting. 

Now, let’s take a look at AGREEABLENESS.  We see that C & D share a Questioning & Skeptical AGREEABLENESS (aka result-focused).  In other words, they each know a little bit about the language of the other. 

You might wonder “What about the diagonal pairings (e.g., the C / i relationship)?”  That’s a good question.  This is where we begin to see interaction between dissimilar styles that share NEITHER PACE nor AGREEABLENESS.  In contrast to the above examples, neither Style here knows much about the language of the other.  Let’s take a look.

Again, with our focus on the C style, we know that a C comes from a cautious & reflective PACE combined with a Questioning & Skeptical (aka result-focused) AGREEABLENESS.  When the C needs to interact with an i, the first thing the C considers is that the i has a faster & outspoken PACE combined with a Accepting & Warm (aka people-focused) AGREEABLENESS.  This knowledge is all the C needs to prepare for successful interaction.  Granted, it will take a little more planning and effort entering the conversation with the others’ i style in mind.

I call this extra “effort” the STRETCH.  One style may have to STRETCH (or FLEX) a little to “speak the language” of another style, always considering the others’ needs, preferences, and priorities.

I want to use the analogy here of learning a new task at work.  At first, it’s not easy or comfortable.  However, over time and practice, coupled with an understanding of what is required to complete the task successfully, you will need to STRETCH less and less to get improved results.

Let’s look at an overview of the C style.  We already know the two continua which indicate a C style.  Now, let’s see more descriptors which will help us understand better.






PACE: Cautious & Reflective

AGREEABLENESSQuestioning / Skeptical (result-focused)

  • Priorities include: Ensuring accuracy, maintaining stability, challenging assumptions.  Motto?  “Do It Right
  • Motivated by: Opportunities to use expertise or gain knowledge, attention to quality
  • Fears: Criticism, slipshod methods, being wrong
  • Other descriptors: Analytical, reserved, precise, private, systematic
  • Limitations: Overly critical, tendency to overanalyze, isolates self

Here is an excerpt from an actual DiSC® Profile report:

You place a high priority on Accuracy.  You want to ensure superior results, and tend to analyze options rationally and separate emotions from facts.

You also prioritize Stability, and tend to value follow-through and restraint.  You are uncomfortable with quick or risky decisions and prefer to take time to make an informed choice.

You prioritize Challenge.  In searching for the most streamlined method of task completion, you may openly question ideas and point out flaws that others may have missed.

Diving further into understanding a style, we need to look beyond simply observable behavior.  Wiley research identifies that each style also has core needs.  The core need (driving assumption) of a C is simply: 

  • Analyze -  the instinct to step back and think; to remove themselves from the situation, get some distance, then break things down rationally to understand in an objective, logical way.  (This is buoyed up by a couple things:  A strong need for safety & security, A need to be beyond reproach, and A strong need to / for control)

Your strengths as a C co-worker MAY include:

  • Dealing well with complex issues
  • Bringing technical expertise
  • Providing results combined with high accuracy
  • Being careful and methodical
  • Making decisions that are fact-based

Your limitations as a C co-worker MAY include:

  • Overly critical (or perceived as such)
  • Tendency to overanalyze
  • Isolation of self
  • Investing too much energy into avoiding mistakes

As a C you can improve effectiveness by:

  • When it comes to analyzing and accuracy, monitor becoming perfectionistic and indecisive (analysis paralysis)
  • Scope projects and the detail required to meet deadlines
  • When it comes to others whom you “see” (or perceive) as having lower skills or less attention to quality, shift from judgmental to open-minded

There’s much more to discover about the C style by taking the DiSC® Profile.  In future lessons, we’ll learn about:

  • Motivators & Stressors
  • How to connect with all 4 styles
  • Solving Problems with all 4 styles
  • Dealing with tension between all 4 styles
  • Three key strategies to deal with ALL types

I hope this overview increased your awareness, knowledge, and familiarity of DiSC® and specifically the Conscientious Style.  Whether your needs include Onboarding, Employee Engagement, Culture Change, Conflict Management, Team Building, or simply Communication, DiSC® is the research-based, proven, leading training solution.

As ALWAYS, the key to effectiveness through DiSC® is understanding your and others’ styles and then using that knowledge for improved interactions.

If you would like a live, complimentary webinar (online) for your team or organization, please send an email to info@traininglocation.com.  If you’d like to purchase the DiSC®, visit  DiSC® Classic or Everything DiSC® at our website.  And, check out our products from The Ken Blanchard Companies as well.

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