Can we communicate more effectively? Personality types are the way to go


There are approximately 7.6 billion people in the world, yet everyone is different and unique. Just think about how different you are from your siblings, for instance.

Yet, there are some personality traits that go beyond a person’s cultural background and are very similar all over the world.

How can we group them, though? One of the most used framework to categorize the different personality types is the 16 Personalities (you can take the free test here, if you’re curious). This model divides people into 4 big groups, i.e. Analysts, Diplomats, Sentinels, and Explorer, which are respectively organized into 4 subcategories based on specific traits.

This means that, not only do people hold different personality types, but they also communicate in different ways. Hence their personalities affect how they relate to the ones they communicate with and how they interpret messages, for example. You’ve surely experienced yourself that you express your feelings very differently than other people. Let’s say you’re mad at your wife, you might prefer to just talk about the problem, while she might stop talking to you and give you the famous ‘silent treatment’ for a couple hours.

Therefore, to have an effective communication, it is important to understand who the other person is and adapt accordingly the dialogue in terms of tone, amount of information and so on. Someone prefers to communicate information in a sensory and logical way, while for others an emotional and conceptual one might be more effective.

This distinction comes from Carl Jung’s Extraversion-Introversion Personality Theory(1971), where people’s attitudes depend on the way they prefer to use their mental capabilities. According to him, “each person seems to be energized more by either the external world (extraversion) or the internal world (introversion)”. Furthermore, he introduced a pair of judging functions to process inputs, i.e. thinkingand feeling –rational people -, and a pair of perception functions, i.e. sensationand intuition –irrational people -. A person’s Extraversion-Introversion preference influences whether he is more prone to interpret the world through thinking and feeling, or sensation and influence.

Based on Jung’s personality theory and the 16 Personality framework, the Human Metrics’ chart below summarizes how to communicate to the different personality types in the most effective way. Here the first letter in the acronym stands for the preference of general attitude, i.e. “E” for extraversion and “I” for introversion. While the second letter is the preference within the sensing-intuition dimension: “S” stands for sensing and “N” stands for intuition.

Hence, next time you want to get your message across effectively, try to understand who you’re talking to and whether you should make a joke before introducing the topic you want to talk about or go straight to the point and show him a graph.

“The 16 personality types” are effective to use when we want to give feedback to others because it is easier to give feedback to a person if we know their personality type.

The message we are trying to convey through the feedback becomes easier for the recipient to understand because it is more targeted. It is all about learning. It is about learning to communicate the right way in order to be able to pass along impressions. Situations where it would be effective to focus on would be when we receive feedback from our employer, at the annual staff development interview or when we consult with each other at our work place etc.

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