How stress manifests in people with different social styles

If you have kept up on all my posts on Linked in this month you will know that we have now worked out what all of the social styles in the David Merill model look like and how to spot them… now I am going to throw a spanner in the works. 

The social style presenting itself to you in a team member may not actual be their default style.  It could be a style adopted during times of stress meaning your team is unintentionally masquerading as a completely different style. 

This can be mapped, in this model, using the Z pattern, where individuals move through the styles in a pattern which can be commonly observed.  Again, massive generalisation alert but having used this model for over 10 years I have experience in this being a useful starting point and at the very least an early warning sign that there may be something you as a leader or team member need to be aware of.  Most of the time though I have found it to be incredibly accurate in both myself and others.

It’s called the Z pattern because when viewed as a grid, team members move through the styles grid in a pattern that looks like a Z – here’s the pattern for an analytical vs a driver for example:

z pattern driver pic.JPG
z pattern analytical pic.JPG

Sometimes people can remain in a Z pattern for some time and it can be easy to mistake someone as a personality type that is not their default style – look out for this.  Combine this with what we learned in my first blog article on social styles and you can be too quick to ‘judge’ someone’s style which can lead to a break down in the effectiveness of this model.  Remember we tend to focus on the personality traits in others that we have, even when they are in less abundance, which can cause us to misjudge someone’s default style. 

As with all team diagnostics and personality profiles, it’s important to remember that we are generalising here and just because someone has a preferential style doesn’t mean they can’t and won’t display traits from all – after all, we are all unique.  But this is a useful pattern to be aware of as when spotted early, it can help you deal with stresses and conflicts in your team before they become more destructive.

A global team understanding of everyone’s styles, communication preferences, support needs and Z patterns can create a more forgiving and understanding team environment where the team can support each other more effectively. Leaders especially benefit from being aware of their own personality type and how to adapt their tone and style to best support a team member when under stress as often it is leadership that deal with the results of conflict, performance issues and unhappiness in the team.  Also, being mindful that you as the leader are a part of the team and dynamic and therefore have a contribution to the current situation is a tough reality to face but one that is key to unlocking the development of your team.

Over the next week or so stay tuned to my Linked In feed for how to spot each of the social styles in the Z pattern.

For more information on how my team coaching partnership Dynamic Connections can help your team gain a common understanding of social styles and how best to work together, please get in touch.

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