Updated: Nov 26, 2020
Many social scientists believe that there are basically four types of personalities in the world.
Understanding these four styles will help you be more effective when it comes to leadership, sales and team dynamics.
Behavioral psychologists have been sharpening personality assessments -- and making them more complicated -- since they were invented in the 1920s.
The Myers-Briggs Type Inventory (MBTI) defines 16 basic personality types based on the research of psychologist Carl Jung. The main MBTI categories are extroversion-introversion, sensory-intuition, feeling-thinking and judging-perceiving.
The test can be very involved. The people who take the test often can’t remember their own results a few months later. Some personality tests are based on as many as 32 different personality styles.
Dr. Tony Alessandra’s simple personality matrix is easy and fun. He teaches how to identify and relate to the four styles: the Relater, Thinker, Socializer and Director.
You can use the Alessandra method to conduct fast “virtual” personality assessments in real-time to better understand the other person's orientation to issues such as motivation and purchasing decisions.
When you understand which personality style you’re communicating with, you can customize the message to make it easily digestible for that person.
Each of the four styles is psychologically attracted to messages based on characteristics such as keyword combinations, font selection, sentence structure, tone and length.
Here’s how to identify the personality of your target audience and a brief description of the type of copy that will most likely persuade them.
I’ve included samples of how you might communicate with each of the four styles and keywords that are likely to work for each style. Relaters
Relaters are “people people.”
These personality types are relationship based. They are warm and friendly, slow and easy folks, who tend to be “pleasers.” Relaters are predisposed to cooperation and giving you the benefit of the doubt. They easily share their feelings and are also good listeners.
On the flip side, Relaters don’t care for conflict or friction, so they are likely to withhold opinions that are confrontational in nature. They aren’t big risk-takers and will almost always err on the side of caution.
When communicating with Relaters, use “soft” words and try not to be too edgy in your approach. Use common words in sentences of moderate length.
Relaters identify with keywords such as:
Summary: Take your time with Relaters and leave time to talk about their families, friends, pets and hobbies.
Thinkers are intellectual types who prefer a slower and more cerebral approach to conversation. They fancy themselves to be careful communicators, perfectionists who prefer involved dialog over hallway discussions.
Thinkers are task oriented, follows instructions and like to work alone. This personality style has a high threshold for analytical processing and takes decision-making very seriously.
When communicating with thinkers, use the occasional complex sentence and include data when making your case. Thinkers don’t mind long discussions that include lots of details.
Position your appeal to be more intellectual than emotional by writing from your brain, rather than your heart.
Statistics, numbers, and bullet points; use one or two “million-dollar words; long passages are okay, but keep them reader-friendly by breaking ideas up into paragraphs.
Thinkers relate to keywords such as:
Evidence and proof-of-concept
Summary: Pay homage to the Thinker's intellect and don't try to outsmart them.
If you think you're one of the “cool kids,” you're probably a Socializer.
Relationships are important to Socializers, but they like things to be fast-paced. These people are enthusiastic and persuasive and have a strong sense of personal worth. Above all, these people want to have fun and they aren’t opposed to taking a few risks in order to get it.
To communicate with Socializers, deliver messages that are light-hearted, lively and upbeat. Be clear that laughter and fun as a by-product of associating with you and whatever you're involved with.
The following words and concepts resonate exceptionally well with Socializers:
Other people, especially other Socializers
Summary: Be animated when talking to Socializers and don’t be afraid to loosen up a little.
The fourth and final personality style in the Alessandra model are Directors. These folks consist of “born” leaders such as C-level executives, managers, department heads—or at least people who think they should be running the show.
These independent, free-thinking individuals prefer that you get straight to the point.
They don't suffer fools and consider themselves to be masters of efficiency and productivity. Do your homework before talking to them and be very clear about what you want and how to get it.
Like Socializers, Directors are fast-paced and decisive, but they tend to be dominating. These boss-type personalities value the function of the relationship over the form of it. Be respectful with Directors and never forget who's in charge -- because they sure don't.
The following words and concepts resonate with Directors:
Top honors and achievement awards
Summary: Directors like to be in charge, but they don't mind being challenged if you've got game.
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