Social Styles as a Tool in Sales and Seduction
We've had some requests on here for me to do a little writing on sales, and while this isn't a full-on sales article, it does cover one very useful tool in the salesman's toolbox: a little thing called Social Styles.
Your social style is your preferred and usual way of interacting with other people. Social Styles is similar to Myers-Briggs and other personality tests... except easier, and simpler.
And it's highly applicable to both sales and seduction.
Learning Social Styles as a greenhorn salesman taught me to connect very quickly and easily with customers, and to interact with them in ways that they each responded to most. It also taught me why working with certain people in certain ways could make them either very much like or very much dislike you.
When I started working on getting better with socializing with people and meeting new women in general, I took Social Styles right along with me, by then integrated into my normal mode of interaction.
The Social Styles Model is little known outside the world of sales - but it really shouldn't be confined only to there. Because if you know how to use social styles, you have unlocked the power to give almost anyone a feeling of familiarity and camaraderie in your presence.
The Social Styles Model was based on research into personality traits conducted in 1964 by Dr. David W. Merrill and Roger Reid examining three different elements (two of them inherited from the Managerial Grid Model), and expanded upon into a assessment model by Dr. James W. Taylor. The rights to the model are today held today by consulting firm the TRACOM Group.
The two main elements used to construct Social Styles are:
Assertiveness: how much effort you make to influence others in thought and deed.
Responsiveness: how readily you emotionally respond to the influence and stimuli of other people and events.
When you chart these two elements on a grid, you get four quadrants:
... and depending on where you fall along the chart, you can be classed into one of four different social styles.
- Driver: less responsive, more assertive
- Analytical: less responsive, less assertive
- Expressive: more responsive, more assertive
- Amiable: more responsive, less assertive
Let's take a closer look at each.
Learning Social Styles
The very first thing they had us do in the sales class where I learned Social Styles was to sit down, take out our pencils, and complete a brief quiz. Only, the quiz wasn't a test of knowledge; it was a personality test, designed to find out where along the grid we fell, and what our normal operating social style was.
Before you read any further, complete this short questionnaire and plot yourself on the graph to see which category you fall into, then come back here:
(courtesy the College of Engineering at the University of Colorado, Boulder)
Fun stuff, right? Everybody loves personality tests.
A general overview of what each social style is like:
Driver: the drill sergeants of Social Styles; a Driver wants to know just the facts - what is needed, right now, and that's it. Is information-based, and has little patience for feelings, emotions, wasting time, or too many questions. Drivers are high in dominance/assertiveness, and low in caring/responsiveness.
Analytical: Social Style's accountants, programmers, and number crunchers. Like Drivers, Analyticals are fact-based - but they want to know ALL the facts... every little detail. What is it, how does it work, how should you do it, which step comes after which step, etc. Analyticals are annoyed at overly simplistic instructions or explanations, and at overly emotional individuals. They're low in dominance/assertiveness, and low in caring/responsiveness.
Expressive: is a talker... Expressives are the Chatty Cathys of the Social Styles world. They're much more interested in YOU than they are in whatever it is you're trying to sell them, tell them, or get them to do. Likes: talking, bonding, getting to know people, being the life of the party. Dislikes: overly fact-based too-mechanical people (robots), who don't know how to have a good time. Expressives are high in dominance/assertiveness, and high in caring/responsiveness.
Amiable: the big, cuddly Teddy bears of Social Styles, Amiables like for everybody to just get along. They like low pressure, low stress environments, where everything is calm, tranquil, and moves slowly. Amiables detest being rushed or hurried, and will often say "yes" when they want to say "no" simply because they are so conflict-avoidant that they don't want to risk hurting your feelings or getting into a debate. Amiables are low in dominance/assertiveness, high in caring/responsiveness.
Personally, I fall somewhere between Driver and Analytical, a bit more on the Driver side of things. Most people have a dominant trait and a secondary trait.
Similar to the categories in the "4 Kinds of Girls" articles, you'll often find you connect least well with the people in the opposite corner of the graph from you: if you're an Expressive, those mechanical, detail-oriented Analyticals will drive you nuts; if you're an Analytical, those gabby, effusive Expressives will make you want to retire to the den and bury your head in your computer screen. Drivers find Amiables too soft and touchy-feely for their tastes; Amiables find Drivers too harsh and domineering.
Social Styles Sales Presentation
The best presentation I've come across on Social Styles - and the
one I used to use when I conducted sales training - is this one below,
from the website Software Education.
Have a look:
By the time you make it through this slide deck, you're all but a Social Styles veteran.
Now let me tell you how you use this.
If you made it through the presentation, you already should have a good idea how to use Social Styles: you bend your own style to match that of the person you're interacting with.
When you teach this to salesmen, their eyes light up as you go over
it. Here is a way to communicate
effectively with all those stubborn and annoying customers you usually
However, if you're not a salesman, I can imagine your thought might be, "But won't this mean I'm not being my real self?" In part, yes, it does mean that; but no more than you aren't your true self when you're on a date, compared to when you're hanging out with your best buddies drinking beers and watching the game. You're two very different people in those two situations... and that's because you're adapting yourself to the different people you're with.
What Social Styles enables you to do is do a better job at adapting.
Recognizing Others' Social Styles
The first order of business is knowing whom you're dealing with. If you meet a soft and sweet Amiable and you want to plow things through headlong like a Driver on a mission, you're going to scare her off faster than you can say, "Whoa! Too much."
Here are the signs I learned to use right away to categorize people quickly on first meet:
Drivers are LOUD, direct, and usually pretty fast-paced. They get impatient when you start talking too many details, or going about things in a longwinded or roundabout way. Brief, superficial overviews are sufficient for them. Loudness and fast-paced and large amounts of dominance are usually the dead giveaways of a stereotypical Driver. They get antsy if you start telling too many personal anecdotes that aren't clearly relevant to what they want to know, and give short answers when you ask them about themselves.
Analyticals ask tons of questions and go into very long, detailed explanations when you ask them about anything. The Analytical's motto tends to be "too much information is never enough." The focus with them is more on facts and series of events. When you ask them about themselves, they'll tell you about their hobbies or accomplishments.
Expressives are like Drivers, except that they really want to talk about themselves (and sometimes you; but, usually, themselves). They're loud, they're talkative, and they're happy just to be talking. They're very impatient with boring "facts" and "details", though.
Amiables are there to please, and are the most soft-spoken of the four Social Styles. Amiables will love talking to you about themselves, and, even more, will love hearing you tell about yourself... so long as it isn't anything too dangerous or crazy you're talking about. Amiables are scared of "getting to the point", and recoil if you're too pushy - you'll see them get uncomfortable if they feel like you're directing them too strongly.
In addition, Drivers and Expressives make fast, gut decisions, while Analyticals and Amiables make slow ones (Analyticals' decisions are based on accumulating enough evidence, while Amiables' decisions are based on feeling comfortable enough with something and the person suggesting it to them).
When I was new to sales, I'd frequently fall into an Analytical sales pattern; my mode of operation tends to be Driver in situations where I'm comfortable and experienced, and Analytical in situations where I'm not. Since I didn't know what I was doing, I tried to get as much information from customers as possible, and throw enough information back at them instead.
What would end up happening was that:
Analyticals thought I was the salesman of their dreams
Drivers would get impatient with me, and sometimes interrupt me to try to hurry me up
Expressives would nod in acknowledgement as I talked, then drive off into a tangent about their personal lives as soon as they could get a word in edgewise
Amiables would just go along with me, nodding over and over, and "Uh-huh"ing and "Mmm-hmm"ing, though it'd feel almost like they had no idea what I was saying, or I was drowning them in details, and they just didn't have the courage to tell me I was talking right past them
After sales training in Social Styles though, I was immediately able to figure out WHY this was happening - I was communicating in a way that didn't speak to the majority of the people who walked through the door (for various reasons, the split isn't actually 25-25-25-25; Drivers are relatively uncommon, while Amiables are relatively more so).
Once I knew how to identify someone's social style, though, I was also able to start mirroring it - giving me an invaluable ability to be just like them.
Adapting Your Social Style
When you're meeting women, you'll realize pretty quickly that Expressives and Amiables are the two most prevalent Social Styles you're running into. There's a fuzzy breakdown between men and women, where men tend more toward the less responsive side of the spectrum (Drivers and Analyticals), while women tend toward the more responsive side (Expressives and Amiables).
You'll still find exceptions - sometimes you'll run into woman Drivers and woman Analyticals, and sometimes you'll run into male Expressives and male Amiables. It's a bit less common than female Expressives or Amiables and male Drivers and Analyticals, though.
Chances are, as a man, you're coming from either a Driver or an Analytical social style, with probably a higher chance of you being an Analytical. People move towards more dominant styles as they increase their levels of authority in their own lives; if you start out Analytical or Amiable, as you rise in responsibility in your career, or grow the size of your own business that you run, or put on more muscle, or get better and better with women and socializing, you'll find that you naturally taken on progressively more dominant traits, and eventually fall more on the dominant side of the spectrum.
If you started out Analytical, that means you trend toward Driver; if you started out Amiable, you trend more Expressive.
It's uncommon for people to change in responsiveness, however, though I have seen a few who've done this... but it's rare, and it's often a forced personality change and somewhat unnatural to the person, at least for a while. It doesn't have the smoother transition that moving up in dominance as life demands this of you does.
But people want to talk to people like them. They can't relate to you as well when you're acting from a personality that doesn't gel with theirs.
So, if you want to maximize your success in sales, socializing, and/or seduction, you must learn to adapt.
The how is simple enough: you just copy the behavior of the style in question.
That's aided by:
A solid handle on Social Styles, and an understanding of the differences between the four different styles, and
Experience observing different people with different styles and acting like them
When you meet a Driver, you talk louder, in shorter bursts, are to the point, focus merely on facts, and try to get through things as FAST as you possibly can
When you meet an Analytical, you talk quieter, ask a lot of detailed questions, explain things in detailed ways, and build comfort with the decision through sufficient information
When you meet an Expressive, again you speak louder, but with the focus on helping the Expressive to talk about herself, and when you talk, share some personal anecdotes. Make the factual / logistical side of things a minor detail that you tend to as under-the-radar as possible so as not to interrupt the bonding and socializing
When you meet an Amiable, talk quietly and gently, and safely find out what her needs are - deep diving and eliciting values are your friends here - and aim to make her feel as comfortable and as at ease with you as you possibly can. Make sure everything you do with her is super smooth and never feels rushed, pushy, or hurried. You can still move fast with Amiables - but you must do so in ways that they feel you're being considerate and are tending to their needs and not just yours
If you're having any trouble grasping why this is so useful, just think of any time you've had someone walk up to you and start talking to you in a way that made you feel, "Ugh, this guy is WAY too pushy," or, "Geez, this girl is TOO meek," or, "God, why won't this guy shut up with all these little details and let's just get on with it?" or, "Oh man, who CARES about how much you like your new car? It's completely beside the point!"
Well, when you're not properly adapting your communication style to that of the person you're speaking with, this is exactly how they feel about YOU.
If you want them happy to be talking to you, and happy to relate, make yourself relatable.
Social Styles in Seduction
How do Social Styles apply to seduction?
By the time I started working on getting better with women, I was already a pro at using Social Styles in the sales process, and I no longer consciously thought about people's styles or consciously adapted myself. It was something I did automatically.
But when I stop and pay attention, it's easy to see how it plays into interactions:
With women who are Drivers, you'll talk loud, behave aggressively, act dismissively toward emotion, and move things at breakneck speed, because she's either going to say, "Sure, let's do it," or she's going to say, "Nah, I'm not interested," and no amount of building comfort or rapport with her is going to change that (woman Drivers are relatively rare, but they can be a lot of fun when you meet them)
Analyticals are probably the rarest social style you'll encounter in women. They more or less require you to 1.) be very good at seeding a lot of different attractive qualities about yourself, so they can be sure that, yes, you are an objectively attractive male, and 2.) be highly aware of seeding logistics and your situation properly so that they can decide on your own that you're someone who's very scarce and whom they'd like to go to bed with (otherwise, they'll do what Analyticals do, and push things out and ask for more time to make up their minds, slowing - and usually breaking - the process, and your odds for ending up with them along with it)
Expressives are the women you'll usually meet who are vibrant, confident, and outgoing. They love people, love conversation, and are very, very happy to tell you all about themselves if you ask them the right questions. Assuming you're out of boyfriend consideration, if they like you and find you sexy, they'll be open to moving fast with you if social repercussions are removed and you make sure to hit their escalation windows
Amiables are probably the most common women you'll meet. Amiables are nice, polite, considerate people, and do their best to avoid being rude or causing conflict with you. Amiables are the most likely of the four styles for you to end up wasting time on, because Amiables who aren't interested in you and aren't going to be interested in you will continue to be nice, and laugh at your jokes, and maybe even flirt a little with you, because they want you to feel good, not bad... and if you aren't keeping your eye on results (like moving girls) it's easy to confuse their reactions for results.
Amiables need you to be smooth but not overbearing, and they need to feel like you're "with" them fairly quickly, and that you are as responsive to them and their needs as they are to yours. As soon as a girl who's an amiable feels like you aren't respecting some subtle message she's trying to tell you, she'll close off around you. Conversely, Amiables can submit and go along with things that they might otherwise not be inclined to, which again can waste your time, since they'll often go along with things up to the point where they hit a hard wall - then, they'll refuse, and bail. You need to be paying very close attention to subtle nonverbal signals with Amiables to see if they're getting uncomfortable around you, and quickly tone things down and be nicer and softer if so. You can move fast with an Amiable, but she must always feel like the moving fast is her preference (thus why you want women chasing you as much as possible in interactions), and she always needs to feel like she has an "out" if she wants it
This is just the tip of the iceberg; as you get into using Social Styles with people, you'll find that it colors all stages of your interactions.
Like was the case with in the "4 Kinds of Girls" article, your worst relationship match will typically be with someone in the opposite quadrant from yours:
- If you're a Driver, Amiables seem weak
- If you're an Amiable, Drivers seem harsh
- If you're an Expressive, Analyticals seem uptight
- If you're an Analytical, Expressives seem free-wheeling
Your best matches will tend to be with women in the two quadrants adjacent to yours:
- For Drivers, that's Analyticals and Expressives
- For Analyticals, that's Amiables and Drivers
- For Expressives, that's Drivers and Amiables
- For Amiables, that's Expressives and Analyticals
How Can You Start Using Social Styles?
When I train salespeople, I take them through drills training, where either I or one of the trainees will act like a certain social style, and the trainee who's the target of the drill will need to figure out what style that person is and sell to him accordingly. It's a lot of fun (especially when trainees get the style wrong and you react to them with the kind of negative reaction you'll get as a salesperson when your selling approach is all wrong for the individual you're selling to).
Since I can't drill you myself over the Internet, to get started using Social Styles in your own life, I'd recommend you start paying attention to the behavior and mannerisms of the people you meet whenever and wherever you go out, and start trying to see if you can figure out why style they belong to:
- Are they highly detail-oriented? Analyticals.
- Are they loud, curt, and abrupt? Drivers.
- Are they talkative, outgoing, and enthusiastic? Expressives.
- Are they quiet, polite, and warm? Amiables.
Social Styles is immensely useful for instantly knowing how a given person is likely to react to and interact with different things, and for helping you tailor your approach so that she immediately feels like the two of you are on exactly the same wavelength.
It's a big part of how I'm able to make people feel like we're old friends on first meeting. I just mirror their social style right back to them and communicate with them how they themselves communicate.
I'd recommend going through that slide deck if you haven't already - it's very good stuff.
And, enjoy trying these out! You're going to have a blast - and you'll get a lot of insight into your own behavior patterns, strengths, and flaws in the process.
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