We all do it. But how well are you able to guess another’s personality type? There are several clues that help determine which of the 16 Myers and Briggs personality types fit people best. They include: 

  • Demeanor (serious or laid back?)
  • Energy level (calm or always on the move?)
  • Speech pattern (answer questions quickly, or pause to reflect?)
  • Appearance (neat and put together or more casual?)
  • What they do for work
  • Hobbies
  • And more!

This blog will give you a chance to test your SpeedReading People skills. Below is a scenario which involves four people planning a high school reunion. Your job is to try and figure out their types, based on the clues provided. After you’ve made your guesses, I’ll reveal their types and provide some supporting evidence. So, have fun, good luck…and no peeking at “The Reveal” section, until you’ve made your guesses!

Planning the Reunion

“How did THAT happen?!” was the unanimous feeling shared by the four friends meeting, two-and-a-half decades after graduating high school, to plan their 25th reunion.

Now in their early forties, Michael, Sarah, Justin and Amanda were sitting at a booth in the same diner they used to hang out in after school…all those years ago. Sarah used Facebook to invite fellow classmates to an exploratory meeting, and these three responded positively. Hence, the reunion committee was formed.

Since they’d not been together for such a long time, Justin suggested they start by updating each other on what they’d all been doing for the past 25 years.

Michael jumped right in. Graduating close to the top of his class, Michael went to a prestigious university where he began as a political science major but switched to pre-law in his junior year. After graduating, Michael decided being a lawyer wouldn’t be interesting enough, so he hooked up with college friends and began his career as a serial entrepreneur. What he liked best about his work was the fact that he was always learning something new, got to deal with lots of interesting people, and was constantly being challenged. He also enjoyed the financial fruits of his labor, eagerly sharing that he’d cashed out from an early startup he’d been involved with, “with an obscene amount of money.”

After greeting everyone with a big hug and bigger smile, Sarah, the reunion “recruiter,” went next. Always a gifted athlete, Sarah had gotten a soccer scholarship to a small mid-western college where she excelled. She disclosed – a little sheepishly – that she had a shot at making the US Olympic team, but, while she loved playing the game, she lacked the discipline and single-mindedness necessary to put in the grueling hours of training required. After college, she traveled the world for several years, “just exploring,” before returning to the states and taking a job as a personal trainer in a popular chain sports club. As luck would have it, one of the members she trained was an actor who became a well-known celebrity. He introduced her to many of his pals, which now constituted the majority of her clientele.

Justin commented that his career seemed pretty unexciting compared to Michael and Sarah’s. In high school, Justin was the quiet, thoughtful friend people turned to when they needed someone to talk to.  Always interested in people and what made them tick, it was no surprise that in college, Justin majored in psychology, then earned a master’s degree in counseling. An internship he had with a university career development center made Justin realize he had a passion and gift for helping people find the most satisfying careers – something he found very rewarding. Ultimately, he transitioned from the college campus to the corporate world where he’s been working in Human Resources for the past ten years.  

Amanda was last to speak up. Turning to Justin she said: “Your career makes mine sound glamorous. I majored in accounting and have been working as an accountant as a CPA for the same firm for twenty years.”  Amanda was always good with numbers, exceptionally detail-oriented, and organized. Even as a young child, Amanda would lay her school clothes out the night before, always finished her homework right after school, and never got into trouble for even bending, let alone breaking, the rules. She liked the fact that her workload was very predictable. She knew what she had to do, and because she was very good at it, she seldom had people looking over her shoulder. Her home life was not much different. She liked being in control, managing her husband’s and two young children's lives quite efficiently, which she described as “running a tight ship.”

Weighing In…

Amanda suggested they get down to business by talking about the specifics: when and where the event would take place, how many people they thought would attend, and what the costs would be. In order to make a workable plan, she suggested they research venue options, then come up with a budget. She raised several questions – mostly pertaining to cost – including whether they’d need to secure liability insurance in case something unexpected happened.

Michael jumped right in: “I agree all those things are important, but first we have to figure out what we want this thing to look like. I went to the twentieth reunion, and it was pretty lame, which is probably why only the four of us showed up to talk about the 25th.” He continued that he’d like the committee to go big and go bold, choosing a cool theme and some activities that would draw a crowd. He didn’t have any specific ideas to offer, but was sure once they started brainstorming, they’d come up with something great.

Feeling that Amanda may have been put off by how quickly Michael brushed off her suggestions, Justin piped up: “Clearly, we need to consider both the big picture and the details. But I think what’s most important is the tone – what the experience will be for people attending." He went on to say that reunions can be tricky – psychologically – and reminded the others that “high school wasn’t always such a great experience for many people, which is one of the reasons lots of them often don’t show up at reunions. So, I think we should make it really easy for people to connect in a comfortable, non-threatening way, and maybe even recruit some “greeters” to help re-introduce people to each other, which would be especially appreciated by our more naturally reserved classmates.”  

Sarah had wanted to jump in several times but restrained herself. Finally, she piped up: “These are all good points, but I think the MOST important thing is that people have fun! That’s what will make them want to come this time, and keep coming back. I see this event as very casual and laid back with great music, great food and maybe even some games…maybe a trivia contest like: whose career is the biggest surprise given what they were like in high school…that sort of thing. I know that planning takes work, but I really don’t want to overthink this thing either.”

SpeedReading the Committee

From the descriptions of the committee members and what they shared about their vision for the reunion, you should have a pretty good sense of each of their types. Some of the best clues you might have picked up on involve what they studied in college, which careers they chose, what their vision for the reunion was, and how they interacted with each other.

So, what do you think Michael, Sarah, Justin and Amanda’s full four-letter personality types are?

A SpeedReading People tip: start off with what jumps out at you and build from there. For example, if you’re pretty sure the person is a “Traditionalist” (an SJ) then you’ve narrowed the possibilities from 16 types, down to just four: ESTJ, ISTJ, ESFJ or ISFJ. Maybe you’re confident that he or she is an E. If so, then you’re now down to two possibilities: ESTJ or ESFJ. In this case, it should be pretty easy to determine if s/he’s a Thinker or Feeler. If you land on Feeler, then you’ve determined the person’s type is ESFJ. 

My book The Art of SpeedReading People offers two additional methods for Speedreading people if you’d like to take a deeper dive.  

The Reveal and Some Clues

Michael – ENTP

Has lots of interests, is a life-long learner, is a serial entrepreneur, wants to go for the big idea, is comfortable brainstorming and is happy to share how successful he has been.

Sarah – ESFP

Likes socializing, which led to her reaching out to others, hugged everyone, has always been involved in sports, is adventurous and a free spirit, emphasized the importance of the reunion being fun, and not “overthinking it.”  

Justin – INFJ

Has always enjoyed helping others, both at school and in his career, was sensitive and concerned that Michael might have hurt Amanda’s feelings, emphasized the importance of the experience being a positive one for everyone.

Amanda - ISTJ

Has had the same career her whole life, likes structure, predictability, and consistency, is organized and detail-oriented, and prides herself on being efficient at home and at work.

So, how’d you do?

I’d guess that many of you were able to correctly identify three or four letters of these people’s types. If so, congratulate yourselves – you accomplished this with only a few clues! While being able to SpeedRead a person can be fun, being accurate takes practice. To me, the real benefit of being able to SpeedRead someone, is that it enables you to SpeedREACH them: be able to understand and communicate most successfully with all kinds of people.

If you’d like to learn how to master these important skills, you might want to check out The Art of SpeedReading People, which provides an easy-to-learn system.  

Paul Tieger
Paul D. Tieger is the Founder and CEO of SpeedReading People, LLC. He is an internationally recognized expert on – and author of five breakthrough books about – personality type including The Art of SpeedReading People and the one-million copy best-seller Do What You Are. A jury consultant for twenty-five years, Paul pioneered the use of Personality Type to help trial attorneys understand and communicate with jurors and has worked on dozens of high profile civil and criminal cases including the first physician-assisted suicide trial of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Paul holds a BS degree in Psychology and an MS in Organizational Behavior.