The Social Style Model was developer by Psychologists David Merrill and Roger Reid in the early 1950s. They used factor analysis to identify two scales, identified as assertiveness and responsiveness. This results in a model that has four quadrants which identify four social styles.



Assertiveness = how we prefer to assert ourselves, either we prefer to ask, or we prefer to tell

Responsiveness = how we prefer to put our emotions on display


People who fall diagonally to each other may find themselves clashing more often, as their social styles are often in conflict i.e.

  • Analyticals and Expressives
  • Amiables and Drivers


Which is not to say that there are only four types of people in the world. There are vast variances in each style, with individuals often displaying values from a neighbouring style. This can also shift and change with emotional state, fatigue and stress.

No one style is inherently better than the others. Each has its own strengths and the workplace needs to have a mixture of all four to be successful. For instance, in a typical boardroom you might note Managing Directors are often Drivers or Expressives. Finance Directors are usually Analyticals. Sales / Marketing directors are nearly always Expressives. Technical Directors are almost always Analyticals. Human Resource Directors are generally Amiables.



Versatility – The Key to Improved Communication:

This is how well someone is able to recognise the social style and communication preferences of any person, and make an informed choice about how to interact with them. It relates closely to ideas of Emotional Intelligence.

We are all versatile to some degree in our communication with others, but some people are more so than others. Versatility is a choice, and something that can be practiced and improved.

By being able to tailor your approach to the other person’s style, you will be better able to present your argument either in informal discussions or meetings / presentations. You will also avoid disrupting their thought processes.

To determining the style of others, you need to pay attention to the following:

  • Talking
    • What they talk about
    • How they talk
    • Tone of voice
    • Pace of speech
  • Body language
  • Communication style
  • Responsiveness
  • Listening pattern
  • Working
    • Style
    • Area
    • Pace


They are very good at time management, though they may work at a slower pace due to their need to double check facts. They will go to great lengths to organise everything around them in ways that fit their overall theory and ideas. They focus on processes, logic and consistency. Their ability to work systematically make them excellent problem solvers. They ten d to avoid personal involvement with co-workers, and are cautious about taking action. This could lead to them appearing cold and detached. They are slow to change.


Strategies for dealing with Analytical personalities:

  • Take your time
  • Communicate clearly and concisely
  • Don’t pressure them for answers
  • Respect their process
  • Ask directly for their feedback
  • Give them space
  • Provide them with solid, practical evidence
  • Contribute to their efforts, and follow through on what you say you can do
  • Don’t be disorganised or messy
  • Don’t be loud and disruptive when they are trying to concentrate
  • Don’t be vague about expectations
  • Don’t use testimonies of others or unreliable sources
  • Be realistic with deadlines


Analytical primarily fears being criticized or forced to make quick decisions. When under stress, they tend to:

  • Get over-focussed on detail
  • Withdraw from others


They work at a very fast pace, and expect others to keep up. Inaction makes them uncomfortable, and they will try to direct the actions of others whether they are in charge or not. They are outspoken and will state their opinion with little concern for the feelings of others. They can be harsh, blunt and aggressive at times. They are very skilled at time management and seek efficiency above all things.


Strategies for dealing with Driving personalities:

  • Be clear, specific, brief and to the point
  • Present the fact s logically and concisely
  • Ask specific questions aimed at getting things done better and faster
  • Follow up on promises
  • Show your competence
  • Let them have some control
  • If you disagree, point out issues with the facts and not a person
  • If you agree, support the results and not a person
  • After finishing business, leave quickly
  • Don’t leave loopholes or be vague
  • Don’t ask rhetorical or irrelevant questions
  • Don’t speculate or offer guarantees you are unsure about
  • Don’t come with a ready-made decision or try to decide for them


Driving primarily fears losing control or being taken advantage of. When under stress, they tend to:

  • Seek more control, becoming increasingly assertive or even autocratic
  • Become energized and work even faster


They tend to work at a fast pace and make quick decisions based on feelings and opinions. This could cause them to act impulsively and without regard for processes and procedures. They don’t work well in isolation and are at their best when they are surrounded by enthusiasm and excitement. Their focus on spontaneity and the future may lead them to make a lot of mistakes and change direction frequently. They have little interest in facts and data, and prefer to follow hunches and intuition.


Strategies for dealing with Expressive personalities:

  • Laugh with them and find ways to make things fun
  • Listen to their opinions, dreams and intuitions
  • Think big picture
  • Recognise their contributions
  • Talk about people and their objectives, they enjoy hearing opinions
  • Get their commitment to a course of action
  • Leave time for socialising
  • Don’t be impersonal, curt or cold
  • Don’t concentrate too much on details or facts
  • Control how much you theorize with them, or you will lose time
  • Don’t talk down to them, and don’t patronize
  • Don’t lay down the law or suppress their opinions
  • Don’t allow them to leave decisions up in the air


Expressive primarily fears being rejected or bored. When under stress, they tend to:

  • Rise to the challenge at first, then get overwhelmed
  • Become offensive or sarcastic


They are good team players who enjoy getting involved in the feelings and relationships between people. They can have a hard time understanding people who react to information rather than relationships. They are not overly concerned with effecting change and prefer to stick with the comfortable and well known. They are excellent communicators, who will add joy to social situations. Their time management skills are often lacking, and they will avoid conflict as much as possible.


Strategies for dealing with Amiable personalities:

  • Start with a personal comment to break the ice
  • Show interest in them as people, find areas of common interests
  • Present your case in a non-threatening manner
  • Draw out their opinions by asking “How?”
  • Handle issues in private
  • If you disagree, look for hurt feelings and changes in attitude
  • Behave casually and informally
  • Give personal reassurances
  • Give clear, specific solutions with maximum guarantees and security
  • Don’t rush into business or the agenda
  • Don’t be domineering or demanding, and don’t threaten them from a position of power
  • Don’t debate about facts and figures
  • Don’t manipulate or bully them into agreeing. They will probably not fight back, but you will damage the relationship
  • Don’t be vague or offer probabilities


Amiable primarily fears being alone or losing their sense of security. When under stress, they tend to:

  • Worry and fret
  • Keep their head down, chat to their friends
  • Seek comfort food
  • Become more submissive
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