DEFINITION of Social Style

Developed by the TRACOM Group, the social style model categorizes people according to personality traits and how they interact with others. Organizations use these models to enhance communication and collaboration among team members.


The social style model can also be used to determine the types of roles employees would be best and/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 visa-versa. That time-consuming practice can result in poor performance and awkward relationships simply because a person’s specific traits were not considered when adding him or her to a team or put in a managerial role that doesn’t suit their style.

The social style examines where individuals fall on a cardinal 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 easy going.

For example, most managers fall into the Driving category, while those in human resources tend toward Amiable. Using the same logic, technicians and computer experts are mostly Analytical; while writers, graphic artists lean toward being Expressive.

By 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 the Social Style Model

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 paying attention to a customer's behavior around certain models of sports cars compared to sedans, for example, may lead him to believe that the customer prefers speed over accessibility or size. The customer may become agitated or exhibit excited behavior toward an accompanying friend when near a red convertible, but seem listless near a blue four door.