Seeing Behavior Through The Lens Of Energy

December 17, 2014 by bob | Filed under Articles by Bob Picha.

“Know Yourself”

By: Bob Picha

Centuries ago Socrates, a great thinker and teacher, said that the key to living is knowledge. The key to living well is to know thyself. From the beginning of thought, man has been deeply concerned about the explanation of those fundamental activities which are the mainspring of human conduct. (What makes people tick? How do they use their energy?)

People have been seeking practical knowledge which they can apply to the personal problems and decisions in their everyday lives. These question arise:

Can you possibly observe yourself objectively?

Can you observe the way you behave?

What are the circumstances which evidently caused you to behave in that way?

Do the same circumstances always cause you to act in the same way?

Do you always act thus and so when confronted with such and such influences?

Is it really possible to “know thyself”

William M. Marston, a psychologist at Columbia University in the 1920’s, described human behavior in terms of consistent patterns of reactions to environments He states that an environment or a single situation in which one finds himself/herself could be seen as one of two major types:




An antagonistic environment or situation can be defined as one in which the individual PERCEIVES (sees, feels, or senses) obstacles and difficulties confronting him. Uncertainty, risk calculation, problem solving, overcoming objections, are typical and normal living conditions.

Whereas, in the favorable environment or situation, the perception is normally one of friendliness, opportunity, security, or predictability, and these predominant conditions are accompanied by little or no necessity for overcoming obstacles at the expense of disturbing the status quo or feeling of alliance. Marston and other psychologists established two principles of behavior to explain why we behave the way we do;

Behavior is the result of a reaction to a stimulus. Once the stimulus is perceived, some of the reactions that follow are instinctive … some are learned.

Behavior is seen in our response which follows the reaction. This overt behavioral response to challenges and opportunities becomes a habit and predictable.


Develop a Clear Picture of Yourself…

As we grow and develop, we gradually discover our own characteristic mode of behavior (behavior pattern) and develop and maintain a picture of how we see ourselves. We will seek out roles, situations, and jobs that are in keeping with this picture of ourselves. Our desire to preserve a picture of ourselves accounts for the consistency in our individual behavior and enables us to predict other people’s actions and reactions in given situations. When we build on strengths and yield to our motivations, we can build and strengthen our picture of ourselves.

Adapt and be Flexible…

  1. Adaptation or flexibility implies:
  2. Adjusting to or conforming to one’s environment.
  3. Changing one’s environment.

Your environment could consist of: the physical environment, other people, a job environment, or a combination of all three. Whether you tend to conform or actively promote change depends on your personal behavioral style. You can create time between your reaction and your response when you can consciously control your responses in order to adapt and be flexible.


The concept of predictability or consistency does not mean that people never change or are incapable of adapting to new situations.

Dr. Marston sought to describe the behavior response in terms of the amount and type of activity people exert in normal situations. He viewed behavior as essentially being active or passive in response to an environment that could be seen as either favorable or antagonistic Dr. Marston identified four types or changes:

The stimulus caused reaction may be either

Antagonistic (unfavorable)     ah    Allied (favorable)

The self activities in response may

 Increase (be active)


 Decrease (be passive)


He then identified four major parts or dimensions in our behavior patters that are present in all people, but in different degrees:


DOMINANCE   —   energy directed to accomplish in spite of opposition or antagonistic circumstances.

d1 Objective   —   to overcome or to resist.

Drive   —   to be in control and to achieve results.

Intent    —   to overcome, to alleviate antagonism.



INFLUENCE — energy directed toward persuading people to act positively.

i1 Objective — persuade and motivate

Drive — to influence, express, be heard

Intent — to persuade, create and shape alliances, enhance a favorable environment



STEADINESS — energy directed toward performing work, to produce consistently in a positive and predictable manner.

s1 Objective    —    support, maintain stability “status quo”

Drive    —    stable and consistent, paced

Intent    —    to support alliance and stay favorable (team, company, family)



COMPLIANCE — energy directed to comply with highest standards (the best job possible) to avoid error, trouble, danger (unfavorable circumstances).

c1 Objective    —    avoid risk with rightness, correctness

Drive    —    to be right, sure, safe

Intent    —    avoid trouble, to alleviate antagonism



The challenge for organizations is linking and aligning these individual energies.

There is considerable research basis for measuring behavior along the two axis (four dimensions) described by Marston. The Plan to understand yourself and others is an assessment that measures whether an individual sees himself as characteristically seeking out and/or reacting to situations that are challenging or friendly, and whether the response pattern is active or passive.

This assessment is designed to produce profiles (patterns) of one’s behavioral style and to assist in planning changes toward increased effectiveness. With the results of the questionnaire, three pictures or patterns are drawn, each focusing on behavior:


(A) Expected by others… projected by you how you adapt.

(P) Response under pressure… core behavior.

(S) Self-perception: how you see yourself most of the time… a composite.



When you examine your three pictures or patterns, you can see how they vary. Do they change? Are they the same? The C.H.I.P.S. system is designed to:

  1. Identify one’s style of behavior when getting things done.
  2. Identify one’s strengths
  3. Explore how to create a motivational environment conducive — to success.
  4. To increase acceptance of others’ behaviors
  5. To identify and minimize possible conflicts
    a. with others
    b. with the jobs we do… to increase productiveness

These systems focus on behavior which is observable, rather than attitudes, feelings, or values which drive or guide behavior and are not observable.


Purchase DISC Training with Free Profile today.

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