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The Table is on Fire

The Table is on Fire

June 3, 2021

As I enjoyed a quiet dinner at an Italian restaurant on a recent business trip to Richmond, Virginia, something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye. While cleaning off a table, a busboy inadvertently knocked over an oil lamp. The oil immediately spread across the white linen table cloth, which instantly caught fire. The busboy was frantic.

He grabbed a bread basket in the hopes of tapping out the fire only to set that on fire too. He was beginning to panic.

While all of this was transpiring, I couldn’t help but notice the other diners in the restaurant. They seemed to fall into two distinct categories: Those who were utterly terrified and braced to run for their lives and those who appeared entirely amused.

The entire incident lasted only about thirty seconds, as another quick-thinking waiter grabbed a pitcher of water and extinguished the blaze. Afterwards, you could see that it took the people in the first category a while to calm down. The others seemed to find it even more amusing the more they thought about it. I will not reveal which category I was in.

It dawned on me that the DISC styles played a role in their reaction. I would suggest that the S’s and C’s experienced greater levels of stress than the D’s and I’s. If we go back to William Marston’s original framework for the DISC model, he suggested that D’s and I’s perceive themselves as more powerful than the environment while S’s and C’s see themselves as less powerful. Therefore, in a situation such as this, D’s and I’s are likely to think, “If the situation gets any worse, I’ll just leave.” Meanwhile, the S’s and C’s are ready to bolt because of the fear that the fire may get out of control and they could get trapped in a blazing inferno.

The DISC model offered an interesting lens through which to view the situation. By the way, I sensed that the waiter who grabbed the pitcher of water was a D. Alright fine, I admit it. I was amused…but I did feel bad for the busboy.

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