Talk is Cheap; Effective Communication is Priceless
Did you ever see a confused look or a blank stare on a subordinate’s face after giving them tasking instructions? Did your loved one ever give you a befuddled look after you finished explaining your plans for your next vacation together? Did you ever feel as though you are not connecting with a business client? Communication failures occur every day. Communication often fails because the people do not consider the communication style of the person they are talking to. Quickly assessing communication styles increases the likelihood you will be able to effectively communicate with other people. Effective communication saves time, creates good will, and reduces frustration.
Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)
The Myers-Briggs assessment instrument founds on Carl Jung’s theory of psychological type. Based on Jungian theory, Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers Briggs identified four personality preferences along four dichotomies, Extroversion and Introversion, Sensing and Intuition, Thinking and Feeling, and Judging and Perceiving. Personality types are not static but slide on a continuum showing a preference for one type over the other type. Granted, the MBTI is not as stable as personality instruments based on the Five-Factory Model. However, quickly identifying the naturally occurring differences in the way people communicate is valuable when communicating with subordinates, loved ones, and clients.
The first two dichotomies, Extroversion and Introversion and Sensing and Intuition are the easiest to identify. Extroverts direct their energy outward while introvert direct their energy inwardly focusing on their inner environment, thoughts, and experiences. Sensors take in information through their five senses while intuitives process information primarily through hunches and impressions. Sensors focus on the here and now. Extroverts focus on grand strategies and future implications. Focusing on these two dichotomies provide valuable insights into effectively communicating with others.
Extroversion and Introversion
Extroverts are spontaneous and introverts are thoughtful. Extroverts say things spontaneously without thinking about how the remarks may be perceived by the people they are talking with. Extroverts often offend people without realizing their offense. Introverts rarely make social faux pas because they think about what they are going to say before they speak. Introverts often describe extroverts with terms such as loud mouth, aggressive, overbearing, arrogant just to name a few. Extroverts often describe introverts as dull, boring nerds. When extroverts and introverts communicate, there is an inherent bias before any words are spoken.
Communication Tips for Introverts and Extroverts
Extroverts should give introverts time to speak. Introverts need time to process what was said and time to formulate an appropriate answer. Extroverts often fill the silence before an introvert has a chance to respond, thus preventing the introvert from speaking. This frustrates introverts and may give them the impression that the person they are speaking with is a bully. Nobody likes a bully. Extroverts should give introverts, especially clients, time to consider a sales or business proposal. Introverts will not make a big purchase or commit to a business proposal without having time to work out all the pros and cons of the transaction. Extroverts respond well to quick deadlines; Introverts do not. Avoid short deadlines or ultimatums when communicating with introverts.
Sensing and Intuition
Sensing and intuition are the information gathering activities. Sensors take in information through their five senses. They trust information that is tangible and concrete. Sensors rely on facts and details and seek an orderly progression of thoughts and actions. Sensors derive meaning from the underlying theories and principles supported by data. Conversely, intuitives rely on hunches and tend to look at the big picture often skipping from one topic to another seemingly without any logical connection. Intuitives tend to be abstract thinkers relying on a grand view of things. Intuitives are more interested in what if rather that what is. A quick way to determine if a person is a sensor or an intuitive is to ask them for directions. A sensor will provide step-by-step direction often providing landmarks and other visual aids. An intuitive will simply say, “Go that way for a while, turn right, and your there. Can’t miss it.”
Communication Tips for Sensors and Intuitives
Supervisors who are intuitives should provide detailed instructions to subordinates who are sensors. Sensors like to be given step-by-step direction. Sensors become frustrated if they do not have detailed instructions on how to complete a task. Sensors can cope with broad objectives if they previously completed a similar task. Sensors rely on how things were done in the past to complete future tasks. Supervisors should avoid giving tasks to sensors that require “out of the box” thinking and developing broad, forward thinking tasks. Intuitives are better suited for these types of tasks. Sensors adhere to deadlines, often completing tasks well before the appointed time. Sensors prefer concrete language, while intuitives frequently use abstract and figurative language.
Effective communication relies on quickly assessing the person you are communicating with. Knowing two out of the four personality types allows you to develop effective strategies to communicate with friends, colleagues, and subordinates without unintentionally frustrating them and causing a breakdown in communication. Extroverts, introverts, sensors, and intuitives can be easily identified through observation and by asking a few questions. Identifying thinkers, feelers, judgers, and perceivers is more difficult without more in-depth personal knowledge. Nonetheless, several apps are available that provide users with a quick personality type assessment by asking a few questions. I regularly use one app, Intelligent Personality Typing. This app provides reliable personality type assessment by asking 20 questions that can be answered by casual observations of the person being typed. Once the person has been assessed, the app provides detailed tips and techniques on how to effectively communicate with people who have different types than yours. I use this app when I negotiate business transactions. I can better formulate a win-win deal when I can plan sales and communication strategies that comport with my client’s personality type.