Personality Type and Communication

One of the questions I get most from my clients is “How should I deal with someone of X personality type?” Clients are anxious to use their new personality type knowledge to work more effectively with colleagues and bosses, as well as relate better to spouses, children, and friends. Whether at work or at home, good relationships are based on good communication, and it helps to start with some basic knowledge of how different types like to communicate. If you just can’t seem to get anywhere with a particular person, it could be because you’re not appealing to their communication style. So, today we start a new blog series, in which we explore strategies for approaching communication with each personality type. I thought it would be fun to explore two types with opposite preferences in each post, to really highlight the differences in how people like to engage in the fundamental skill of communication. We’ll start with ESTP and INFJ.


ESTPs don’t have much patience for listening to long speeches, especially abstract ones, so keep messages logical, concrete, and to the point. Don’t bother with long-winded explanations of intangible goals or future plans. Explain the practical applications of your ideas and focus on what can be done now.

Humor can help keep the ESTP engaged in what you are saying, so keep things light and expect the ESTP to poke a little fun at you, even if you take what you’re saying very seriously. If you can engage with the ESTP’s tendency to make conversation fun and active, you’ll have an easier time getting your point across. Be careful, though, as the ESTP may totally derail you and have you talking about something entirely different (and more exciting) before you know it. You may have to make an effort to keep the floor, so keep it energetic and action-oriented and don’t spend too much time beating around the bush. The ESTP will pay most attention when you tell him or her what action can be taken now.


INFJs will be most focused when they understand the larger vision of your ideas, especially the benefits to society and to other people. Figure out the values behind what you’re communicating and be sure to share them. If you can relate your message to something that is personally meaningful to the INFJ, you’ll have an easier time engaging their attention.

Avoid telling the INFJ what needs to be done without explaining why, and try to make the why relate to what is right, authentic, and socially important. Don’t rely on logic and objectivity without considering the emotions involved. The INFJ probably won’t care about your carefully reasoned cost-benefit analysis if it doesn’t acknowledge larger questions of values and ethics, or the impact on the people involved.

INFJs will appreciate a well thought-out message, so don’t “brain dump.” Carefully consider what you will say and then share with the INFJ in a thoughtful, organized manner, giving the INFJ plenty of time to process what you’re saying. Be sure to take time to listen, too. INFJs probably won’t bother to butt in if you’re doing all the talking, but they may be quietly discounting your message if it doesn’t feel right to them. Gently elicit their opinions and reactions so you can better appreciate their priorities.

Molly Owens
Molly Owens is the founder and CEO of Truity. She is a graduate of UC Berkeley and holds a master's degree in counseling psychology. She began working with personality assessments in 2006, and in 2012 founded Truity with the goal of making robust, scientifically validated assessments more accessible and user-friendly. Molly is an ENTP and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she enjoys elaborate cooking projects, murder mysteries, and exploring with her husband and son.