What Is Social Style?

What Is Social Style?

The Social Style model categorizes people according to personality traits and how they interact with others. Companies and other organizations use these models to enhance communication and collaboration among team members.

Awareness of social style can help improve relationships among co-workers and individual performance. By learning from the cues in a workplace, workers can be better informed about themselves and others.

Social Style is a trademarked soft skills program. The trademark is held by the TRACOM Group, a workforce training and consulting company.

Key Takeaways

  • As developed by the TRACOM Group, the Social Syle model categorizes people according to personality traits and how they interact with others.
  • The model can be used to determine the types of roles employees would be best- and/or worst-suited to fill based on their interpersonal interactions.
  • Learning about social style can also help people develop their interpersonal skills.

Understanding Social Style

The Social Style model can be used to determine the types of roles employees would be best or worst suited to fill based on their interpersonal interactions.

Think of it as a way to avoid trying to squeeze a square peg into a round hole or vice versa. That time-consuming practice can result in poor performance and awkward relationships simply because a person's individual traits were not considered when adding them to a team or putting them into a specific managerial role.

Figuring out the best position for each employee is crucial to success. This behavioral model is primarily designed to link the appropriate role to the best candidate.

The Social Style Grid

The Social Style model examines where individuals fall along a scale, with two opposing points being "controls/emotes" that measure assertiveness and "tells/asks" that gauge how responsive or vocal the individual is. The grid created by these four characteristics determines the social style:

  • Analytical: Control/Ask—This person is serious and calculating.
  • Driving: Control/Tell—This person likes to be in charge and is emotionally under control.
  • Expressive: Emote/Tell—This person is an extrovert with a tendency toward drama.
  • Amiable: Emote/Ask—This person is friendly, a team player, and easygoing.

For example, most managers fall into the Driving category, while those in human resources departments tend toward Amiable.

Using the same logic, technicians and computer experts are mostly Analytical, while writers and graphic artists lean toward being Expressive.

Knowing which social style you fall into and determining which fits the people you work with will help improve communication and efficiency among team members.

Uses for Social Style Awareness

Identifying another individual's social style can provide a salesperson with a wealth of information about certain aspects of that individual's life.

A car salesman will pay attention to a customer's behavior around sports cars compared to sedans, for example. Signals are sent that make the salesperson believe that the customer prefers speed over accessibility or size. The customer may become agitated or exhibit excited behavior when in the vicinity of a red convertible, but tune out when near a blue four-door.

What Is Social Style?

Social styles (plural) is a theory in psychology that suggests that every individual has a natural set of personality traits that determines how they communicate with others in a group setting.

Social Style (singular) is a specific model, trademarked by the TRACOM Group, that is used to categorize people into one of four dominant personality types in order to predict how they can best contribute to a group.

Getting the group to function effectively requires getting the right people in the right roles and, just as importantly, keeping them out of the wrong roles.

Who Originated the Idea of Social Style?

The concept of social style has been evolving since 1964, when industrial psychologists David Merrill and Roger Reid teamed up to create a model that could predict success in careers in sales and management. Among their inspirations was B.F. Skinner's analysis of behaviorism.

Merrill and Reid found that there were distinct and consistent types of social styles, and taking these into account in team-building was crucial to the team's success.

The rights to their Social Styles Model are now owned by The TRACOM Group, a workforce training and consulting company that traces its roots back to Roger Reid.

What Are the Social Styles?

The model identifies four basic social styles:

  • Driving: Controlling, decisive and fast-paced
  • Expressive: Enthusiastic and emotional
  • Amiable: Friendly, supportive, and relationship-driven
  • Analytical: Thoughtful, reserved, and slow-paced

The Bottom Line

The Social Style model is one of a number of modern methods of analyzing the behavior of individuals in groups. More specifically, it studies the behavior of people working together and how it can be enhanced if the personality types of each individual in the group is understood and taken into account.

Article Sources
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  1. TRACOM. "Our World-Leading Corporate Training Programs."

  2. TRACOM. "Social Style Model."

  3. Management Pocketbooks. "David Merrill & Roger Reid: Social Styles."

  4. Psychology Wiki. "Social Style."

  5. TRACOM. "The SOCIAL STYLE Model."

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