TRACOM Group - Social Styles Model

The Structure of Concern Project compares many theoretical models from many disciplines to the Adizes PAEI model, arguing that they must all be reflecting the same underlying phenomenon. One concern structure model is described below.

The Social Styles Model is part of a system of psychometric evaluations and other instruments owned by the TRACOM group, which aims to improve the way that people collaborate and work together (Furlong, 2005). It is based on work by Merrill and Reid (1981) to develop a personality-style-like model that was based on observable external human behaviours, instead of presumed internal states of mind. The two dimensions of external behaviour that the model focuses on are assertiveness and responsiveness.

The poles of the assertiveness dimension are ask and tell. An ask-assertive person is more reserved, more apt to keep thoughts private, and more likely to move conversation forwards by eliciting responses from their discussant. A tell-assertive person is more forceful and directive in conversation. Both kinds of assertiveness are ways for people to get the kinds of social outcomes they want, so they are both kinds of assertiveness, but there is a difference in strategies which forms a continuum along which people can be placed.

The poles of the responsiveness dimension are emotive and controlled. Responsiveness is the degree to which people reveal their emotions in interactions with others. If others perceive the person to be very emotional in their responses, they are emote-responsive. If others generally perceive that a person does not show much emotionality in responses, they are control-emotive.

Crossing these dimensions produces a concern structure, detailing four different social styles, as follows:

P – Driving (Tell assertive & Control responsive): Independent, task- and results-oriented, decisive, fast-paced, dominating.

A – Analytical (Ask assertive & Control responsive): Prudent, task-oriented, detail-focused, slow and careful decision makers, logical, low key.

E – Expressive (Tell assertive & Emote responsive): Visionary, animated, flamboyant, high-energy, fast-paced, impulsive, opinionated.

I – Amiable (Ask assertive & Emote responsive): Dependable, relationship-oriented, supportive, confrontation-averse, open, pliable.

The TRACOM group traces the ways that each social style needs to interact with the others, helping people adapt to each other through the various stages of group formation and interaction. The Social Styles Model is fairly rich, and has barely been summarized in this entry.

1. Furlong, G. T. (2005). The Conflict Resolution Toolbox: Models and maps for Analyzing, Diagnosing and Resolving Conflict. Mississauga, Ontario: John Wiley and Sons, Canada.
2. Merrill, D. W., & Reid, R. H. (1981). Personal Styles and Effective Performance. Bradner, PA: Chilton Book Company.
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