Manage Conflict in the Workplace Using Social Styles

The social styles model is a useful tool that can help interaction in the workplace.  Each style is defined by a particular pattern of behaviour.  If each of us understands the style that governs our behaviour and how we interact with other styles, we can then consider changing our behaviour to better interact with others.  Conflict arises where there is a failure to understand the power of social styles.

The model is made up of four styles – driver, expressive, amiable and analytical.

The features of the driver style include:

Priority is important – getting things done
Measure success in tangible results
Achieve their goals through shaping their world
Rely on control and dominance
Independent and strong willed

Prominent celebrities with this style could include Alan Sugar, Gordon Ramsay and Margaret Thatcher

To influence a driver you must use a fast decisive speaking style, be assertive, well briefed, succinct, professional and business like.  You have to stick to the facts focussing on the bottom line.  It is good to push for a decision on the spot.

The features of the expressive style include:

Measure personal status by acknowledgement and recognition from others
Place emphasis on relationships
Seek person to person relationships
Like to be centre of attention
Enthusiastic and optimistic

Prominent celebrities with this style could include Davina McCall, Richard Branson and Fiona McCall.

To influence an expressive you must match their style, be friendly and stimulating, frame proposals that will enhance their status, allow them time to talk and link to your ideas.  Ideally you should press for a decision on the spot whilst they are animated.

The features of an amiable style include:

Like to get to know people and build trust
Like to support others by listening and being warm
Steady, agreeable, calm
Want little change
Make decisions after only careful consideration

Prominent celebrities with this style could include Michael Parkinson, Jamie Oliver and Bob Monkhouse.

To influence an amiable you must talk slowly and easily, be warm and likeable, focus on the positive, offer reassurances and guarantees, involve them, get acquainted and build trust.

The features of an analytical style include:

Dislike of change and personal attention
Task is a priority, method and detail are vital
Serious, orderly, persistent and cautious
Set high standards for themselves and others
Prefer to work alone and like organisational structures

Prominent celebrities with this style could include Heston Blumenthal, Patrick Moore and Stephen Hawking.

To influence an analytical you must not be over friendly, be formal, logical and to the point.  You should speak slowly and deliberately presenting logically.  You should cover all angles to show that you have done your homework and expect questions of how your proposal will work in practice.

In some situations it is good to flex your style to achieve a win win situation.  First you need to identify your style.  You next need to identify the style of the individual you need to influence, this can be done by monitoring their behaviour.  You then need to plan what you will say and how you will act.  In practice you may need to monitor how you are doing.  When faced with conflict we often revert to our inherent behaviours, but it is really important to focus on the behaviour of the other person to calm things down.  If things are not working out and you are not managing the situation well you may need to correct your behaviour.

Conflict in the workplace exists on a daily basis, but understanding social styles may be to reduce this to a great extent.