Sociability – How Much Is Enough?

  • By Dan Maxwell
  • August 2022

4 people around tableYou’ve been at some event where someone did ALL the talking, or perhaps sat near a group with ONE outstanding voice …. Whether in a restaurant, a campground or in the local neighborhood, it’s amazing to see how highly sociable types can dominate the conversation and never run out of something to say.

Admittedly, they can be entertaining – to a point. Sometimes it’s awkward … or tiresome.

How much sociability is enough?

Facts are high Sociability is a must in roles like retail, home and car sales.  Clerks, ticket agents, and hospitality desks are only successful when they readily and naturally interact with people – all day!  With the right level of Sociability, managers build effective teams, openly share ideas, and influence decisions.

On the other hand, there are jobs where success is based on low Sociability. In technical, accounting, and many administrative roles, required interaction ranges from minimal to occasional. The TRAITS communication style is analytical and informational.  Someone with a higher degree of Sociability in these jobs, would not only struggle to remain focused, they would consistently distract others.

So here is our dilemma: too much or too little of this trait can be a liability!

Consider this: even in sales, too much Sociability can get in the way – or kill a deal. An overly social representative doesn’t pause long enough to ask good qualifying questions; and since they’re driven to keep talking, the prospect can’t fit in their own questions; and while the rep is telling yet another story, the prospect is beginning to lose interest ….

On the opposite end of the scale, someone might be painfully shy and dread every moment of encounter with the public.  Think of someone who is comfortable simply handling samples in the lab all day. And then, because of their extensive knowledge, they are asked to conduct 30 minute tours of the research facility – daily.  Yes, it’s not much of their week.  But from the painfully shy person’s point of view, it’s completely unnatural to put themselves on display.

So here is our answer to this question: you have enough Sociability when the level in each employee matches the level required in their job – no more, no less.  In other words, they can – and want – to talk as much (or little) as necessary.

It might be tempting to “add some personality” to a quiet floor of accounting staff. We know a firm who wanted to try that.  We urged them not to.  It would directly impact the quality and productivity of the entire team.

Through assessment tools like TRAITS, companies can determine the right levels of Sociability for each job and figure out which applicant or employee has the same level to match those requirements.

For further thought:

“When Sociability is Too High”

“When Sociability is Too Low”

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