WHAT IS SOCIAL STYLES?
The Alternative to a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Working with Others
As anyone who’s ever worked with others can tell you, people approach their jobs in a variety of ways. Some people think and act quickly, while others like to take more time; some people are more friendly and sociable, while others are more reserved. At times, these differences can create freshness, balance, interesting relationships and innovative solutions. But all too often differences in “work style” lead to misunderstanding, mistrust and frustration – not to mention lowered productivity and poor results. THE SOCIAL STYLES MODEL The Social Styles Model is a simple, practical tool for understanding these differences and for working well with others who are very different from you, so that everyone’s strengths are respected and used well. Like many useful inventions, the Social Styles Model was discovered by accident. In the early 1960s, two industrial psychologists named Roger Reid and John Merrill were working with a large insurance company in the northeastern US to find out whether there were simple behavioral markers that could predict leadership potential. They reasoned that if they could screen for these hypothetical behaviors when hiring new managers, they could create a culture of highly effective leaders. Unfortunately, they were completely unsuccessful in finding a way to predict leadership potential through behavioral assessment. Fortunately, Merrill and Reid discovered something else: When they assessed people relative to three behavioral dimensions – which they called assertiveness, responsiveness and versatility – they could predict a lot of other useful things. SOCIAL STYLE AWARENESS & ADAPTING SKILLS Improve Teamwork Reduce Conflict About How to Approach Challenges/Opportunities Enable Better Coaching and Influencing Leverage Individual Strengths and Insights
For example, they could tell how that person would be likely to approach tasks and relationships with others; what parts of a project he or she would tend to focus on and which would be less compelling; what some of that person’s key interpersonal strengths and weaknesses would be; how that person would like and need to be managed; and how that person would tend to team and to manage others. Over a period of years, Reid and Merrill tested and validated their model with a wide variety of men and women in many different work situations. The model’s predictive value held true, even – with slight modifications – for cultures outside the US and for non-work situations. Copyright © 1991-2006 Proteus International, Inc. (12dec06)
AND SO… Today the model is used in a variety of ways. For example, it can be taught as a way to help salespeople sell appropriately to customers of various styles. Teams can use the model to make best use of all team members’ strengths. Managers can use the social styles model to become more self-aware, to recognize and build on their style-based strengths and mitigate the impact of their style-based weaknesses, and to better manage employees of any style. Anyone, in any situation, can use the Social Style concept to begin to see themselves as others see them (a very valuable insight) and to behave in ways that create productive, enjoyable relationships with people of every style. Since you have committed to attending a workshop or coaching session where the Social Style model will be taught, the rest of this article has been created to give you a brief preview of the model and how it works. That way, you’ll come to the session with a basic understanding of what’s in store for you. THE THREE DIMENSIONS As we mentioned earlier, the three behavioral dimensions form the core of the Social Styles model. By behavioral dimension, we mean an area of behavior within which people make different choices and have different capabilities. For instance, think of musicality as a behavioral dimension. Some people like to sing, some don’t; some...
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