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How to understand the different personality types of your customers


Being in business requires a lot of additional skills. One of these skills, people skills, is closely related to psychology. There are scales developed by psychologist to help them assess different personalities. Probably the most well known scale is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI). This scale can only be administered by professionals, who are educated in psychological assessment, so you won't be able to give the measure to your customers. Still, you can learn the different personality characteristics and what type of interaction styles work best with each characteristic.

Extroversion/introversion-people fall somewhere along an extroversion/introversion continuum. Extraverted personalities tend to crave stimulation from other people, enjoy the company of other people, and be a little bit impulsive. These people love a crowd and to be the center of attention. They may make decisions on the spur of the moment. Introverted people, n the other hand, need more private time and they are also more methodical and reflective when it comes to making decisions. If you have an introverted customer, you should focus on one-on-one interactions and give them plenty of time and space when


Sensing/intuitive-another continuum that people fall along is that of being sensing or intuitive. Sensing types tend to live in the now and have great memories for details. They like straightforward information and to be able to experience whatever it is that you are talking about. They don't function well in the abstract. Intuitive people tend to focus more on the future than on the present and the past. They like to use their imaginations, rather than their senses to explore new ideas. Intuitive people are comfortable with ambiguous and hypothetical situations whereas sensing people are not.

Thinking/feeling-the third continuum on the MBTI is that of thinking and feeling. Some people think more and some people feel more. Sometimes we talk about this difference as being right-brained or left-brained or even a male/female difference. The truth is that anybody can be a thinker and anybody can be a feeler. Thinkers are oriented towards logic and facts. Thinkers naturally want to fix problems and they are not terribly unsettled by conflict. Feelers, on the other hand, are oriented towards creativity and emotion. They will want to fix things by talking them out. The feelers don't deal well with conflict and tend to take things personally. Of all the personality continuums, this is the one where you have to be the most careful to handle the thinkers and the feelers in different ways.

Judging/perceiving-the final continuum for personalities is judging and perceiving. Judging personalities are task oriented and are most comfortable when they can monitor their progress when working towards a goal. They like deadlines and structure and work well when they are given rules to work within. Perceiving personalities are better able to multi-task and are comfortable working without an explicit plan. If you are working with someone who is a perceiving type, realize that they value flexibility and freedom. It takes a lot of trust to work with perceivers because they tend to get their work done close to deadline.

Every person falls somewhere along each of these continuums. Try to get a picture of your clients from this perspective. If Joe is an intuitive, thinking, introvert who tends to be a perceiver, your interactions should be different when dealing with him than they are when you are dealing with Mary, a sensing, feeling, extrovert who tends to be a judge. Modulate your contact with each person according to their personality type.

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