I wish I’d had access to Merrick Rosenberg’s book, The Chameleon, Life-Changing Wisdom for Anyone with a Personality or Knows Someone Who Does, about 30 years ago, when I worked as a trainer for a personnel management firm.

chameleonBack then, I worked for a company that provided HR services for businesses too small to afford an HR department. There was plenty of work for our organization, because whenever you get two or more people interacting together – or trying to – there is always opportunity for communication failure. Not because the parties don’t all speak the same language, but because the way they interpret the spoken or written word differs, based on personality types.

We trained on the DISC system, helping staff identify their own personality style, as well as that of their co-workers, so they could understand how different types respond differently to any situation, with the goal of enhancing productivity within the organization. We were very low-tech – using posters, and sometimes involving the staff in acting out vignettes.

But I’m afraid the DISC terms  – dominant, interactive, supportive, conscientious – just don’t “sing.” They aren’t automatically relatable, and for some reason, people seemed to get confused when we started explaining that few people are just one style — most of us are made up of DISC combinations.

Beyond that, somehow, most of my trainees seemed to want to think that they were an “interactive.” And practically no one wanted to be termed a “consientious” style – they always somehow came off as sounding dowdy and boring.

Enter author Merrick Rosenberg, who also trained people in the DISC personality system, and also learned, that people have a hard time relating to and remembering the four personalities the acronym DISC represents.

Thankfully, he came up with a better way to help remember the styles: Birds! Using his system:

  • D – (Dominant) = Dee, the Eagle
  • I – (Interactive) = Ivory, the Parrot
  • S – (Supportive) = Simon, the Dove
  • C – (Conscientious) = Carl, the Owl

Beyond that, the book provides the reader with 22 delightful fables about the four birds attempting to get along in a forest.  And, helpfully, the birds are guided by an all-knowing Chameleon, Xenia and her student, Xandu.

Of course, the eagles represent the DISC system’s determined personality, the doves represent the kindness and gentleness which some people naturally have, the owls are organized and conscientious — and the parrots are life-loving and sociable.

As a former DISC trainer, I can promise you that the book is an excellent guidebook for people in social situations, as well as in business. And as you read it it will assist you to understand your own personality as well as those of people you interact with.

Of course, through the fables, readers, like the birds, learn how to be a chameleon and adapt to the people and situations around them. “Treat others how they need to be treated” is the Home Rule of the forest. As it should be in the real world, as well.

merrickMerrick Rosenberg, author of The Chameleon and co-author of Taking Flight!, is a keynote speaker, entrepreneur and thought leader on the personality styles. He co-founded Team Builders Plus in 1991 and Take Flight Learning in 2012. 

As CEO of Take Flight Learning, he has led his organization to the be selected by the Philadelphia Business Journal as one of the Fastest Growing Companies and Best Places to Work in the Philadelphia region. Under his leadership, Team Builders Plus was selected as the New Jersey Business of the Year by NJ Biz magazine.

Merrick specializes in team building, leadership development, and utilizing the DISC personality styles to build better relationships and create engaging work environments.

He received his MBA specializing in Organizational Development from Drexel University who selected him as the Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year. Merrick has been published in numerous publications including, ATD’s Training & Development magazine and Training magazine. Merrick is also an engaging speaker and presenter.

Derrick is a regular guest on radio shows around the country and has spoken for organizations, such as: TEDx, ASTD, the Society for Human Resource Management, the Project Management Institute, the International Society for Performance Improvement, the Employer’s Council, the American Society for Quality, and Vistage International.

Highly recommended.