Guessing Someone’s Type

By Jack Speer | February 27, 2012

Even after years of training, expert experience and lots of practice, your chance of correctly guessing someone’s type after just meeting them is pretty low. There are no fancy tricks or easy tips to learn that will help you guess someone’s type—except for one.

In almost all business environments you meet lots of new employees, co-workers, contacts, sales prospects, and managers; nothing would make your life easier like knowing how they think. In fact, you could communicate and work with them much better if only you knew their personality type. 

Sadly, most people in business environments are not walking around wearing name badges with their type code emblazoned for everyone to see. Some of us could really use type to improve things if only we could quickly identify the types of the people around us.

How do you quickly and easily guess someone’s type?

First, most methods don’t work quickly or accurately when you have spent only a little time with someone. Further, typing someone based on their body language, word choice, dress and similar techniques are fraught with pitfalls. With lots of practice and training, you might it get right occasionally, but it is nearly impossible to raise much above 50% accuracy. In other words, most of the time we are basically guessing. 

One of the biggest mistakes I made early in my career was thinking I had properly guessed someone’s type and then basing my actions on that assumption. Before I realized I was wrong I had almost completely damaged a critical boss relationship. Do not make the same mistake I did. Don’t guess!

I am now about to tell you the radical secret that changes everything:

You simply ask them their type.

No, really. This is one method that works almost every time—because it is not a trick!

Tell them WHY you are asking them! For example:

To a customer:
“In order to give you the best possible customer service and save you time by focusing on what is important to you, it would really help if I could understand your preferences. I have a couple of quick questions I am hoping you could answer.” Then you could ask type related questions, or ask for their type directly. “Would you be willing to exchange your personality type with me?”* 

To a co-worker:
“In order to better communicate and work together more efficiently I was hoping you would be willing to answer a couple of quick questions?”*

If you are not comfortable asking for type directly then ask them type related questions.

Something very beneficial to know in many sales or pitch circumstances is whether the person prefers Thinking or Feeling.

“Which do you give more weight to when making a decision: the people factors or the metrics?”

This kind of question should be used to start a great dialogue with the other person about what is most important to them, and it is one of the best ways to help you understand this person as a unique individual.

If they know what to do with it, exchange your type

I love working with people who know my type and know what it means. It makes the work environment so much more pleasant when everyone understands each other clearly.

So the next time you need to know someone’s type, how are you going to ask?

Sterling Bates

*NOTE: If you decide to design your own opening question it would be useful to keep this in mind. The questions above are constructed intentionally and designed to offer value to both the T and F side of whomever you are talking to.  E.g. F = “best possible customer service” and T=”save you time.” Or F=”better communicate” and T=”work together more efficiently”.