When learning the components of SOCIAL STYLE, it is natural for us to associate Styles with our understanding of what personalities are. Although the lines may seem a little blurry, there is a distinct difference between SOCIAL STYLE and personality.
The difference lies within our stagnant behavioral patterns and preferences. An individual’s SOCIAL STYLE is typically established early in childhood, when we learn which behaviors lead to the greatest successes. Research has shown that a person’s Style remains relatively consistent over time. Once we reach adulthood, our primary behavioral tendencies often stabilize. Personalities on the other hand are not consistent. Personalities are highly variable and dependent upon factors that change regularly – factors such as time, place, situation, the people we are around, and mood are all examples of elements that can prompt our different personalities.
Here’s an example: I am a bit grumpy in the mornings as I am not a morning person whatsoever. Upon first waking up if anyone tries to talk to me such as my mom, my roommates or my brother, I am not highly interactive and typically respond with one word answers. This would be influenced by personality rather than SOCIAL STYLE. In this case, my personality is being affected by the time of day. Here is another example; when I am at work I try not to be too loud or disruptive (although my fellow employees might disagree with this statement). I try to maintain a level of professionalism so that I can keep my job (shoutout to my boss ) but when I am with my family I am known to be loud and animated. While on vacation in Florida this past May, I ran into the ocean with my arms flailing and screamed my head off while riding roller coasters. This is an example of how my personality can change depending upon the situation and the people I am with. The way my boss would describe my personality is very different than how my family would describe it. What is interesting though is that both my CEO and my mom know that I am an Expressive Style – not because I told them, but because of my behavioral tendencies.
Although personality and SOCIAL STYLE are different, there is still a strong relationship between the two, and in fact, our different personalities are shaped by our SOCIAL STYLE. Our SOCIAL STYLE provides a base layer for our go-to behaviors and behavioral treatment preferences (both how we prefer to be treated and how we treat others.) Personalities are reflective of our Style.
This is why SOCIAL STYLE is a better predictor of behavior than personality. An Analytical Style person is always an Analytical, whether they are with their friends at a restaurant, with their family playing board games, or catching a 6 am flight with coworkers. Your Style is not affected by variable factors the way that personality is, which is precisely why TRACOM focuses on the understanding of Style.
It is important to note that research shows that people of any SOCIAL STYLE can be successful in any profession and no Style in inherently good or bad. Each of the four Styles displays positive and negative characteristics when working with others. Understanding Style allows you to identify the preferences of others and modify your behavior to make others more comfortable. This is known as Versatility, and it is strongly linked to career and business success. While your Style might be consistent, your behaviors, personalities, and reactions are not permanent. These are items that we can enhance to improve our Versatility. In the article “How Understanding Personalities Can Change Your Career”, author Stephanie Vozza discuss the implications of personalities with John. D. Mayer, author of the book “Personal Intelligence.” Mayer says “Our personalities make it easy or hard to perform certain tasks or get along with other people. Part of it is preprogrammed, but there is considerable flexibility in how we apply it. In fact, it’s possible to change certain qualities.”
TRACOM measures both SOCIAL STYLE and Versatility. We measure SOCIAL STYLE so that people can understand, other’s preferences and then take steps to accommodate them. Understanding Style gives us a way to learn how we may come off to others as well us helps us understand why someone else is the way that they are. Understanding others’ Styles and our own gives us the knowledge needed to enhance relationships with those who have different Styles than our own. But remember, Versatility is a choice. It’s only helpful if you choose to use it.