Why is it so hard to work well with some people? Why is it that some people are so defensive or too aggressive? In People Styles at Work by Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton they found four unique behavioral patterns and created the Social Style Model. Being aware of your own social style helps a person better understand how they interact with others, develop relationships, get work done, and make decisions.
The test their findings help reveal the strengths and weaknesses of four different people styles. At work, and in other spheres of life, how well you relate with others affects your ability to get things done. What you may not realize is that all people exhibit one of several different behavioral “styles,” which determine how they think, make decisions, communicate, manage time and stress, and deal with conflict.
By understanding which “people style” you’re dealing with, you can establish rapport with someone more easily, become more persuasive, and avoid miscommunication and the possibility of rubbing someone the wrong way. By knowing your style and those of others, especially ones you work with, you can find the best ways to work with them.
Take the test below! (Click to view larger picture) – For each question, circle L or R, or either A or B. Circle what first comes to you and try not to think too much! Add up the number of each letter you have. You can have no more than 9 of each letter and the combination of each set (L/R or A/B) can be no more 9. The total of each of the 4 letters will equal 18.
After you are done with the test and add up the number of each letter, pick your top two. You will either be LA, LB, RA, or RB. For example here are my scores:
- L = 8
- R = 1
- A = 2
- B = 7
My top two are L and B, so my Social Style is LB. So what does this mean? The authors found that there are two main traits we exhibit when dealing with people: how assertive we are, and how responsive we are.
- Column 1 or L = Less Assertive (Less direct and energy, more easygoing)
- Column 2 or R = More Assertive (More direct and energy, emphatic)
- Column 3 or A = Less Responsive (More reserved, logical, task-oriented)
- Column 4 or B = More Responsive (More expressive, people-oriented)
Here are the corresponding letters with four different social styles type: LA – Analytical, LB – Amiable, RA -Driver, RB – Expressive. Since my Social Style is LB, I am an Expressive! (Click to view larger picture)
This shows how you relate to others and how you get things done, manage time, make decisions, how you think, and more. The description in black shows our strengths, what we prefer and how we are. The red shows our weaknesses and what we have to be aware of in ourselves and others.
The main point is understanding how we come across to others and being able to read the body language, tone, and behavior of others so we can find the best way to work with them. The authors found that when we recognize this, we can make small adjustments that can dramatically increase the quality and productivity of our interactions with others.
So which is the best Social Style? The best style is YOUR style! The key thing is to not change who you are, but be a better version of yourself by leveraging your strengths. As an expressive it will be a waste for me to try to mimic another social style. We need to embrace our style and make the best of it!
For more information you can read People Styles at Work by Robert Bolton and Dorothy Grover Bolton. The book describes in greater detail the strengths and weaknesses of the four different people styles. It also provides practical techniques that work both on the job and off.