Social Styles: Knowing yourself and the people around you

In the 1960’s, Dr David Merill discovered that two clusters of behavior “assertiveness’ and “responsiveness” which are extremely helpful in predicting how individuals are likely to behave.


Assertiveness is the degree to which a person is seen by others to be forceful or directive.

At one end of the assertiveness range are those who ‘tell’ and at the other end who ‘ask’.

Other characteristics of people who are more assertive include:

  • Often speaking louder than others
  • Speaking more rapidly and more often
  • Exerting pressure for a decision
  • Taking action
  • Expressing opinions
  • Making requests
  • Giving directions

On the other hand, less assertive people will tend to:

  • Ask questions
  • Be more subdued in their expression and posture
  • Speak more softly
  • Have less intense eye contact
  • Want to study a situation before making any decision


Responsiveness is about how people express themselves and how they react. Some people are more reserved, controlling their emotions, while others show their feelings and emotions.

On one end of the range we have a more responsive person. We refer to them as ‘emotive’. They:

  • Appear friendly
  • Have an expressive face
  • Use hand gestures freely
  • Engage in small talk
  • Share personal feelings
  • Have less structured concerns for time

At the other end of the range is the most reserved and less responsive person who we refer to as ‘controlled’. They:

  • Are likely to be disciplined
  • Could appear preoccupied
  • Tackle the job at hand with deliberate, systematic approach
  • Have limited time to “visit”
  • More controlled manner
  • Structured or formal approach

When we bring the two ranges together, we form a four-quadrant grid, which outlines 4 main behavioral styles: Analyst, Driver, Amiable, Expressive.

These styles can be effective and NOT about right or wrong ways of a person. In fact, our behavior styles need to vary so that they can correspond the behavior styles of the people around us. As the styles of others vary, to communicate effectively we, too, need to change our style.

The ability to be adaptable in our style means that we must understand first what our style of behavior is.


DRIVER – “the one who gets things done”

  • Task oriented, decisive
  • Likes power and prestige
  • Looking for competitive edge
  • Restless, Impatient
  • High self-esteem, may not engender empathy
  • Tends to accomplish, rather than talk about it
  • Results oriented, independent

ANALYST – “the one who gets it right”

  • Analytical of people and figures
  • Does not like confrontation
  • Likes detail, order and precision
  • Needs facts and assurances
  • Gather and evaluate before acting
  • Likes time to decide
  • Sees problem ahead of others
  • Ask many questions

AMIABLE – “the one who gets along”

  • Good Listener
  • Methodical, trusting, mature
  • Friendly, warm, and patient
  • Understanding of others
  • Well prepared, low key
  • Honest, loyal and has integrity
  • Dislikes change

EXPRESSIVE – “the one who gets noticed”

  • Sociable, people person, outgoing
  • Likes the good life or symbols
  • Likes talking, uses humor
  • Poor organizer of time and information
  • Short span of attention
  • Poor listener
  • Prefer the “big picture” that misses details

If you already know which one you are, to be effective you need to be flexible in your every interaction with your family, friends, colleagues and clients. And have an amicable environment.

Willena Panlilio

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