What’s your social style?

by Dec 16, 2019

How knowing your social style can help you be more effective in life.

Have you ever wondered why some interactions with people leave you feeling frustrated, annoyed or even down-right angry? While conversations with others feel effortless, easy and constructive. I recently attended a communications skills training session, to better understand different social styles and how to adapt my own style to be more effective at work. These are my key takeaways.   

All social styles are created equal

According to the Social Styles model*, there are four social styles, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. There is no right or wrong social style, but it’s the interaction between the styles that really counts. Here’s a very basic snapshot:

  • The Driving Style: controlling, decisive and fast-paced
  • The Expressive Style: enthusiastic and emotional
  • The Amiable Style:  friendly, supportive and relationship-driven
  • The Analytical Style:  thoughtful, reserved and slow-paced

We all have a dominant and a secondary style drawing from these four. Based on the preferences and needs of each style, this can result in positive and productive communication OR awkward and even confrontational interactions.

The Driving style can sometimes be at odds with the Amiable style, as the Driver focuses their efforts on the goals and objectives they wish to get accomplished, whilst the Amiable is interested in achieving a rapport with others. As I think back to one of my old jobs, it’s now so clear why I never got along with a colleague (Driving style) who to me appeared forceful and overly direct, whilst I (Amiable) must have appeared to her to be overly concerned with everyone getting along and being happy.

The Expressive and Analytical styles can drive each other crazy too, the former with their spontaneity and openness with their emotions, and the latter tending to be logical and reserved, preferring to think before taking action.

So you can see how things can go wrong when we communicate, despite our good intentions.

Self-awareness and adaptability is key

You don’t need to change who you are but it helps to be aware of the cues that can help a conversation or a meeting be more effective. For example, let’s say you are a student attending a careers fair and you are keen to speak to the employers you are interested in working with. You’re an Analytical style, so you’ve done your research beforehand and you know exactly the skills they are looking for, which is fantastic. But the careers fair is not the time to be cautious or reserved. This is the time to tap into the enthusiasm of an Expressive, the friendliness of an Amiable and the goal-oriented nature of the Driver.

We all need to be prepared to push out of our comfort zone in order to achieve our goals, even if it’s not our natural style.

So you don’t need to change your personality or pretend to be someone else, but reading the cues of the situation, and being flexible and adaptable in your communication style, will take you a long way.

Put it into practice

To find out your social style you can pop over and do this quiz, and then learn more about the Four Social Styles.

Once you’ve brushed up on your communication style, why not put it into practice at the 2020 UTS Careers Fair on 11 March next year? The Fair is an easy way to meet with employers who are keen to connect with potential future employees (aka YOU). Register before the end of the year to WIN one of the $100 Myer vouchers available.


*Source: TRACOM Group

Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Candy Jenkins

By Candy Jenkins

Postgraduate Career Coach

Candy Jenkins is the Postgraduate Career Coach at UTS Careers, where she helps students in one-to-one career consultations and group workshops on career development and employability. She is passionate about helping people to understand their unique value proposition, land their dream job, and achieve their career goals.