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How can social styles help you avoid communication issues?

Do you ever have communication issues with some of your team members and wonder why? Do certain individuals misunderstand your message? Or do your communications sometimes fail to achieve the desired results? Do some individuals feel they are missing information after you’ve communicated it to them?  You may not share the same social style. Social styles represent how you perceive information, how you enjoy having it presented to you, how you digest it and how you react to it. They help us understand how others want us to communicate with them or how they will communicate with us.


Have you ever been impatient at a meeting? The next time it happens to you, observe! Is it the subject that makes you impatient or is it the way it is approached? Sometimes it's the subject, which we may find too operational, but often it's the way it's discussed that doesn't match the way we would communicate it ourselves.


According to Tracom's Social Styles model, there are 4 social styles that are articulated around two main axes oriented on the expression of emotions and the relationship to power. When we communicate, each style seeks a different type of information.



With analytical people, given their need for security (they feel secure when proven right) and precision, speak “their language”: provide facts and examples, address the what and how, outline a process, for example, a project plan with milestones. Even better, to reassure them, assess the risks and give them time to think before taking a decision. Also be aware that, when stressed, analytical people tend to avoid and withdraw to reduce the pressure. To avoid conflict and keep the lines of communication open, highlight the value of their facts and data, and offer to compare them with yours in a collaborative way. 

How to address analytical people: the facts, give absolute values as much as possible, avoid assumptions. Focus on what and how. 



When approaching drivers, acknowledge their need for achievement and results by presenting them with the opportunities and challenges at stake under all circumstances. Offer options and evaluate probabilities. Understand their sense of urgency and adapt your communications by diligently getting straight to the point. To engage them, address the what and when, establish the links between outcomes. In stressful situations, since drivers tend to take the lead in an autocratic manner, tamp down the tension. Approach them by demonstrating how you can help them achieve their goals and objectives, which will help defuse the tension. 

How to address drivers: focus on timelines, agree on what and when



People with an amiable style, as the name suggests, favour cooperation and harmonious interpersonal relationships. They need to belong to the group and feel accepted. Demonstrate cooperation, solicit their opinion, be flexible and ready to compromise. Share with them the opinions of other group members and discuss who and how.  That said, amiable people are great collaborators, helpful, and dedicated. Ultimately, investing in the relationship will pay off! Invite them to practice giving feedback and offer constructive criticism since, in their communications, especially under stress, amiable people prefer to nod rather than give their opinion, hoping to avoid conflict at all cost. 

How to address amiable people: Highlight the impact of a decision on both the collective harmony and the individuals in the group. Focus on the who and the how. 



Expressive people are spontaneous, enthusiastic, and creative. Validate their need for approval by accepting their ideas and using them as a basis for projects. Share stories with them and address the what and the who. They like to be “in motion.” Also, be prepared to make rapid changes and provide an overview of the project so that they see how their own objectives connect to it, which will give broader meaning to their work. To support them in stressful situations, listen without judging, without evaluating, without defending your point of view. This will prevent them from following their natural tendency to attack or confront to relieve pressure. 

How to address expressive people: give them an overview, ask their advice. Focus on the what and the who


Do you recognize yourself?

What are your tendencies? And where would your employees stand?


Being individually different, we all have our own way of interacting with others, communicating and responding to stress and emergencies. Understanding the different social styles of our colleagues and co-workers can help us adapt our communications and interactions to facilitate collaboration in achieving our goals.


The next time you have a communication challenge or someone says, "I don't understand what you are communicating to me", remember the 4 social styles model and try to identify the person's predominant social style. What information would you add or what information would you emphasize in your presentation?

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