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  • Writer's picturePeter Yawitz

Will my social style result pigeon-hole me?

Dear Someone Else’s Dad,

We recently had to do one of those social styles assessments at work. My results showed that I was an “expressive/empathic” type. My problem is that now that people know what “type” I am they assume that I’m just Mr. Sensitivity. My manager recently didn’t include me in a new project because she said she needed “analytical/rational” types to get the job done. I was shocked because I’ve worked on similar projects before and was just as analytical and rational as everyone else. Do you think I’ll be negatively labeled as Mr. Sensitivity forever?

Thanks, Not Really That Sensitive

Dear Not Really,

The true purpose of all the social styles assessments out there is to help people recognize that team members approach situations differently. Some people prefer to take charge and delegate; others prefer to get into details; others prefer to make sure that all team members are heard. The key word I just used is “prefer.” You may prefer to take charge and delegate, but you can still get into the details if you have to. The best way to use the result of these assessments is to recognize that another member of your team may approach a problem differently from you.

For example, if you want to persuade team members with different styles to replace the old, often-broken, smelly vending machine that sells only junk food, you may find yourself using a cost-benefit analysis to influence one person and an appeal to employees’ health and happiness to influence another.

The big problem with the assessments is that the results seem so definitive, and therefore result in labeling. “I’m sorry, I don’t execute; I’m an experimenter.” Well la-di-dah. Also, your results may show “expressive/empathic” now, but a few years from you may be an “experimental/risk taker.” Oh heavens, a new label!

So, back to your situation: if you feel you can add value to the new project, remind her of how you specifically added value to similar projects by using your analytical skills. Stay away from the labels of the styles assessment and focus on your abilities and successes. There’s nothing wrong with being an empathetic/sensitive/expressive/emotional/feeling person, but I’m sure that only represents a part of who you are.

Best of luck,


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