Larry Wilson and his team have studied social styles for many years. The Social Styles Handbook emphasizes the importance of being flexible and versatile in our styles. In the social styles research, they have identified four styles: analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive. Wilson believes that the more flexible we can be in our styles the more effective we will be in communication and connection. How flexible are you in your style?
The Social Styles are based on two continuums: assertiveness and responsiveness. Everybody is assertive, some are more ask-directed and others are more tell-directed. Ask-directed people tend to be more subtle and indirect in their efforts to influence others. Tell-directed tend to be more direct and even move at a faster pace.
The responsiveness continuum flows from people-directed to task-directed. Your preference may be task-directed meaning you talk more about facts of a project and then move to people. On the other hand, people-directed would express emotions more freely and talk about people on the project or relationships before moving to tasks. There is no right or wrong, just a difference in styles.
The four styles are then placed on the two continuums to form a grid: Task, Tell, People and Ask. Where do you think you fall in your preferred style?
Once you know your style, the real question is how flexible can you be with other people’s styles? The goal is to connect with people of different styles.
I am almost equally split between an amiable and analytical style. To be more flexible with my style, I might want connect more quickly with Drivers and Expressives. For example, when I’m communicating with Drivers I need to be more succinct, direct and drive my point home quicker. Learning to flex from Amiable to Driver has been a good exercise in my flexibility. Over time and practice, I can turn on my inner Driver!
Consider you dominant style and then answer these two questions.
- Which style is more difficult for you to connect with?
- How can you “flex” your dominant style to meet the needs of that style?
Spend a week being more flexible with your style to meet the styles of friends and colleagues. What do you notice happens with your communication and connections?
Here is a link if you are interested in taking the assessment to your determine style.