Date, 2006 - The Wheel

Social Styles Model • The Social Styles model is a world class framework for understanding peoples styles developed by Dr David Merrill and adapted by Bolton & Bolton. • A style is a set of behaviours that you have adopted – usually unconsciously, because this pattern of behaviours served you well early on. • Each person has a dominant style that influences how they work. • Each style has strengths & weaknesses not shared by the other styles. • The behaviours of one style can cause stress in the other 3 styles. • This Model offers an opportunity to build awareness of your own style and of the style of others. • Your ability to flex your style to accommodate your stakeholders will make a critical difference in building more effective working relationships.

How to use the Social Styles Model A person’s style is his or her pattern of assertive and responsive behaviour. This pattern is useful in predicting how the person prefers to work with others. Style identification is based on the observation of behaviour. Behaviour is what a person does that can be seen and heard. Dr Merrill discovered that two clusters of behaviour – assertiveness and responsiveness are incredibly helpful in predicting how other people are likely to behave. From this the Social Styles model was created to identify a person’s style. Assertiveness is the degree to which one’s behaviours are seen by others as being forceful or directive. Your level of assertiveness works from left to right with the left side being less assertive and more of an ‘ask’ behaviour and the right being more assertive and more inclined to ‘tell’. First review the characteristics of assertiveness and plot yourself on the line.


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Once you have plotted yourself either to the left or right of the assertiveness line, now plot yourself on the Responsiveness line. Responsiveness is the degree to which one is seen by others as showing his or her own emotions or demonstrating awareness of the feelings of others.

Once you have decided where you are on both the assertiveness and responsiveness axis you can identify your dominant social style. This is your preferred mode of communication and how one best receives and interprets a communication. Use the diagram below to plot yourself, your colleagues and key clients and stakeholders.

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Analytical – “Let’s do it right so we don’t have to do it over”

Key Tips for communicating with an Analytical • Be task-oriented • Be on time • De-emphasise feelings • Be well organised, detailed and factual

When ‘selling’ to an Analytical you have to demonstrate a business case.

Driver – “Our business is not to see what lies at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand.”

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Key Tips for communicating with a Driver • Fast pace, demonstrate high energy • Be task-oriented • De-emphasise feelings • Be clear about your goals and plans

If ‘selling’ to a Driver, focus on action and results.

Expressive – “First I dive into the pool, and then I look to see if there’s any water in it.”

Key Tips for communicating with an Expressive • Focus on the big picture • Emphasise feelings • Be open to creative discussion, spontaneous ideas and creative conversation • Give recognition and appreciation (put them in the spotlight)

‘Sell’ to Expressives on the vision and the idea.

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Amiable – “A lot of people are saying that Campaign X is the way to go.”

Key Tips for communicating with an Amiable • Make genuine personal contact • Emphasise feelings, be supportive • Provide stability and structure • Listen more, listen better (actively seek their opinion)

When ‘selling’ to an Amiable, assure them that others support you and note the factors that minimise at risks particularly on the people impact. Key Tips for Identifying a Person’s Style • Make it easy for the other person to act true to their style – do this by encouraging them to talk at the start of the meeting/interaction. • Pay attention to body language – become more observant of people’s gestures, posture and facial expression. • Don’t be misled by the Style labels – the words like Driver, Expressive can be miscontrued. • Treat your initial identification as a working hypothesis – continue to be aware and take in new information every time you meet them.

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What is a Back-up Style? People move from their normal style into a characteristic backup style in response to excessive stress. Unintentionally, their behaviour becomes more extreme and inflexible. Excessive stress is uncomfortable, even dangerous. While backup behaviour provides a way of relieving some of a person’ s own stress, it usually generates stress in others.

The key characteristcs of the back-up style are outlined below:

Top tips when others are in Back-up 1. Expect that others won’ t be at their best - don’t get frustrated when you have unrealistic expectations of the other when they are exhibiting stress. 2. Detect when the person is in backup - some more tips especially to identify the Amiable or Analytical using their backup style a. You begin reacting negatively to that person b. The other person’ s style-based behaviour seems more rigid and extreme c. You note specific behaviours that are different to what you are used to. 3. Avoid responding to the back-up behaviour, rather than getting annoyed with the backup behaviour realise that the person is stressed. Shift your attention and energy away from disliking this backup behaviour to showing empathy and understanding. 4. Remind yourself that you are not the target of this behaviour, don’ t personalise the person’ s stress. 5. Don’ t try to prevent a person from using backup behaviour - for some using their backup behaviour relieves their tension, trying to avoid the behaviour just creates more stress in the other person. If the backup behaviour persists then it does need to be confronted. 6. If possible avoid doing business with someone who is in backup behavior - it is not always possible so if not employ 1 -5.

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Date, 2006 - The Wheel

Social Styles Model • The Social Styles model is a world class framework for understanding peoples styles developed by Dr David Merrill and adapted by...

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