Tailor Your Conversations With The Social Style Model


December 15, 2022

Whether it’s in person, over the phone or through email, we’re dealing with personalities on a day-to-day basis. You’ve probably had the situation where you’re caught off-guard by an individual’s response and aren’t sure how to proceed with the conversation.


When it comes to communicating with an individual – whether you’re giving a sales pitch to a vendor or resolving an issue with a member – it’s all about building rapport. That said, knowing how to respond to different personalities can get tricky. What if I told you that there’s a better way to deal with your audience?

Research has shown that an individuals’ ability to deal with different social styles has a direct impact on effectiveness and satisfaction – ultimately increasing versatility. This is all based on the Social Style Model.

Developed by psychologists David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1950s, the Social Style Model determined that everyone has their own natural behaviors and preferred style of communication. With that, Merrill and Reid determined that there were two dimensions of communications assertiveness and responsiveness to identify four different social styles: analytical, driver, amiable, and expressive. Ultimately, the model is based on what the Merrill and Reid call “versatility,” which allows us to assess the social style of people around us, and know how to get the best response.

Here’s what you should know about the four personalities:

  1. Analytical: Usually described as cautious and thoughtful, analytical personalities prefer to make informed decisions. In other words, they love statistics – the more detailed the better!

    When you’re dealing with these analytical personalities, make sure to deal with clear and detailed responses. Show how your service or product will meet their needs by using data and facts. In addition, be ready to share background material and research that will allow them to create their own conclusions.

  2. Driver: Usually described as direct, determines and action-oriented, driver personalities are known for making rapid decisions. In other words, they get right to the point and enjoy being in control.

    When you’re dealing with driver personalities remember that they can become impatient. They expect you to value their time, but also want the answers to their problems instantly. Be sure to give results and benefits, but be concise in providing this information. Your facts should be easily understood.

  3. Amiable: Usually described as friendly and supportive, amiable personalities enjoy developing personalities before getting down to business. In other words, they will be quick to reach a decision, but want to build that rapport with you in order to have trust.

    When you’re dealing with amiable personalities is key to note that they prefer working in a team environment instead of individually. The outgoing aspects of these personalities allows these individuals to chat about non-business for a while before getting down to the nitty-gritty. When you’re finally at the work-discussion, be sure to focus on your product or service that will meet their needs. Sharing personal experiences will also enhance this conversation.

  4. Expressive: Usually described as confident and spontaneous, expressive personalities enjoy creatively and excitement. In addition, they like to create new ideas, but may not have the ability to see them into completion. In other words, expressive personalities may be slow when it comes to buying decisions.

    When you’re dealing with expressive personalities, be sure to focus on opinions and stories rather than facts and data. They’ll want to know who else is using your product or service before making their own decision, so be ready to share testimonials. In addition, you’ll be able to keep their interest by focusing on the big picture.

Published in the Journal of Technology and Science Education, authors share a chart, which shows the two-dimensional space defining the personality traits we just went over. “The ‘assertiveness’ axis indicates the individuals’ tendency to impose their ideas or to go along with the ideas of the group,” the study stated. “The ‘responsiveness’ axis indicates the tendency to display one’s emotions, as opposed to emotional self-control.”

Understanding social styles is easy but being able to apply it to your everyday conversations can be more difficult. It’s something you’ll have to continuously work at, especially when it comes to changing your own style. But once you get it down, you’ll be able to reap the benefits.

Think about it … if you’re able to recognize the social style of your vendor or member, you’ll be able to modify your own style to enable an effective conversation and maybe snag a deal more efficiently all while giving the end user a great experience.

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