Research & Insights


What reality TV tells us about Social Styles and building better relationships

(June 21, 2011)

As the saying goes, pop culture often imitates life. In today’s media-driven culture it seems you cannot have a reality show without a largely tell-assertive cast. Television executives are well aware that Expressives and Drivers in back-up mode equal good ratings.

This raises the question, is there a Social Style best suited to winning a reality TV show? Contestants who are tell assertive may make for good television, but do they win? For example, let us look to CBS’s “The Amazing Race” as a case study. If you are not familiar with this series, teams of two compete against each other in a timed race around the world, facing culturally-specific challenges and road blocks.

During the stress of “The Amazing Race,” Expressives will often lash out at other teams or their partners. This reaction creates tension within the team and can often make enemies and inadvertently motivate the competition. On the other hand, frustrated Drivers often become very autocratic with their partners. This reaction creates tension within the team and stifles any collaboration.

So what makes for a winning team? Versatility. On the show, teams often get eliminated because they are either too deliberate or are trying to move too fast for the given task. Teams that advance to the finals understand the importance of building better relationship versatility to overcome unforeseen challenges and road blocks.

Despite what some celebrities may say, “winning” is more than finishing first. A true win comes from flexibility. Whether in the workplace or on TV, promote versatility to build healthier working relationships internally and stronger sales relationships externally so that everyone can overcome the challenges and road blocks that come their way. The lessons learned on this reality show may actually have applications in real life. Keep racing, but don’t forget your versatility!

Do you have any examples of real-life lessons in versatility that you can share?
Or do you have any favorite reality show moments with contestants in back-up mode?

Want more? Consider joining our Social Styles & Versatile Communications Skills group on LinkedIn.

About the Author
Leon Thompson

Leon Thompson

Leon has been a marketing specialist at Wilson Learning since 2010. In a B2B market, he creates marketing campaigns aimed at expanding existing business via: E-mail marketing; Social Media; Brand Development; Trade Shows; and Collateral and sales presentations.

Before that, he spent many years at HomeStyles marketing home plans.