Did you ever have a prospect or client you just couldn’t connect with? We all have. It’s not because you didn’t like each other, but you didn’t seem to be on the same page. Guess what? The reason might lie in your different social styles.
What Are Social Styles?
Social styles are the way we communicate with other people. We all have a social style. Actually, we have one of 4 social styles.
Larry Wilson of Wilson Learning Corporation has written a marvelous book “The Social Styles Handbook”, I strongly recommend you read (see the link below).
In the book, Larry describes 4 social styles. His research shows we as a population are equally divided into the following styles:
Each of these styles has specific ways in which they relate to other people.
Why is this important?
Remember Stephen Covey’s famous dictum, “First seek to understand, then be understood?”
Failing to understand how your prospect, client, employee, partner, spouse, child, or in-laws are communicating with the rest of the world can be disastrous. It’s almost as if they are speaking a foreign language. You won’t understand them, and they sure won’t understand you.
How do I Fix It?
The first thing you need to do is to figure out what social style you are.
Here’s a quick run down:
- Analyticals are: Fact gatherers, logical, want all the facts before making a decision, won’t decide until the payoff is very clear.
- Drivers are: Focused on outcomes, will take charge of a situation, enjoy challenges, tend to make quick decisions.
- Amiables are: Cooperative, want to build agreement and consensus, supportive, communicate trust.
- Expressives are: Talkers, idea sharers, like to motivate, like to create enthusiasm.
Which one are you? There’s no right or wrong here. We all fall into one of these categories. I am a classic Driver. Love a challenge. Totally focused on results. Get me there ASAP. Never mind about the details. When I first discovered this about myself, it was eye-opening to say the least. I was in sales at the time. I suddenly understood how irritating I was to other people. And, I understood why I was failing to close so many sales.
Two Other Critical Factors
There are two other critical factors coming in play here.
- Assertiveness. This is how we influence other people. It is best described as ask versus tell. Drivers and Expressives tend to be tell driven. This means they tend to tell others what to do. Analyticals and Amiables are ask driven. This means they tend to ask others how they want things to be.
- Responsiveness. This is how we express feelings related to people and tasks. Analyticals and Drivers are task oriented. Their focus is on getting things done. Amiables and Expressives are people oriented. They are more concerned with how people feel.
You Are Giving Me a Headache
I understand. I had one too when I got this far. Let’s take a look at the diagram again.
I am a Driver. Look at where I am in the diagram. On my borders are Analyticals and Expressives. This means I share certain social attributes with them.
Notice how I am diametrically opposed to Amiables. I share no social attributes with them. We simply do not speak the same language. When I found this out, I understood at last why a couple of my team members were driving me nuts. They were Amiables. For us to get along, I needed to learn how to speak to them in their language.
Here’s another example. Many Realtors are Expressives. Their greatest fear is taking on a client that is an Engineer or Accountant. Most Engineers and Accountants are Analyticals. If you look at the diagram you will see Expressives and Analyticals are diametrically opposed. They share no social attributes. Once again, they aren’t speaking the same language and have a hard time understanding each other.
What’s the Answer?
The answer is pretty simple. Figure out what your own social style is. Then figure out what style the person you’re trying to communicate with is. It’s not hard. Five minutes of conversation will give you plenty of clues.
Find out what they do for a living. Managers and executives tend to be Drivers. Sales people and people in creative professions (writers, artists, etc.) tend to be Expressives. Scientists and Engineers tend to be Analyticals. Amiables , such as coaches and counselors, are very people and ask directed . They make great staff and team members and will work hard for the group.
Once you know what social style they are, you can approach them in a way they will understand and appreciate. As Stephen Covey said, “First seek to understand, then be understood.”
We will explore the individual Social Styles in greater depth in future blog posts.
Note: The material in this blog was developed from information featured in “The Social Styles Handbook” To find out more, please click on the link below to order Larry Wilson’s great book (Full disclosure, I am a Powell’s affiliate.)