When we talk, we give clues about ourselves. From the way we speak to how long we hold eye contact for, we all drop hints and clues about our personality type every time we open our mouths. 

While personality type is very individualized, there are some patterns that can tell you about someone’s personality type from the way they speak. You probably won’t get a detailed reading of someone just by talking to them for a short time, but you can get a pretty good idea of some key character traits that dominate their personality.

Here are 6 clues to help you guess someone’s personality type from the way they speak and what to watch out for next time you meet someone new.

1. Opening up a conversation

The first clue to guess someone’s personality type from the way they speak is to see if they take the initiative and open up a conversation or if they let you take the lead. 

When you’re talking to a complete stranger, you can get a pretty good idea of whether someone is extraverted or introverted from their willingness to dive into a new conversation with you. While it’s a very simplified measure, Extraverts tend to be the ones who will strike up a conversation with a total stranger while Introverts prefer to stick with people they know.

To guess someone’s personality type from the way they speak, start by analyzing that very first interaction with them and see how comfortably they launch into a new conversation with you. If they’re like a duck to water, they’re probably an Extravert.

2. Getting deeper

When someone is speaking, their personality type can show up in how they say things, as well as what they choose to talk about and how they respond to your attempts to steer the conversation.

Some personality types will try to swerve past certain subject matter, like INTPs who usually avoid talking about intangible things like emotions and feelings at all costs. On the flip side, Intuitive Feeling personality types like ENFJs and INFJs tend to dig deeper in all conversations, quickly and deliberately moving the conversation past small talk and into more meaningful topics. INTJs and ENTJs also prefer more complex conversations and they particularly enjoy delving into new theories, ideas and debates.

If you can pay attention to where your conversation leads and what topics appear as you talk, you can get a clearer picture of someone’s personality type from the way they speak.

3. Sharing personal details

If you really want to guess someone’s personality type, you need to ask them questions too! When you’re having a conversation, try to find out more about the person you’re speaking to so you can get a better sense of their dominant personality traits.

If you can find out their interests, passions and experiences, you can pick up on some clues about that person. For example, thrill-seekers like ESTPs will love to share stories about their latest adventure, while ESFJs will demonstrate their strong emotional intelligence and radiate warmth and empathy in your conversation. They might talk about their most recent volunteering or prefer to engage about a social or community issue that means a lot to them.

By asking someone personal questions and listening to their answers, you can get a sense of what parts of their lives matter most to them and where their priorities lie.

4. Reading body language

When you meet someone for the first time, you can also read a lot about them from their body language. In fact, you pick up on a huge range of signs and signals from body language without even realizing it.

Some body language clues to look out for include:

  • Facial expressions like smiling, frowning and nodding
  • Hand movements like gesticulating, fidgeting and pointing
  • Posture line leaning forward, sitting or standing up straight, hunching, and tilting their head

These movements and gestures can all give you a sense of someone’s personality, including their level of self-confidence, interest, enthusiasm and responsiveness. Keep track of body language as well as speech to get a clearer picture of someone’s personality type from the way they speak.

5. Keeping eye contact

Eye contact is another strong non-verbal cue that can tell you a lot about someone’s personality type just from one conversation.

When you’re talking to someone, take a note of their eye contact. Do they look you in the eye when they’re talking to you? Do they look interested and engaged? Or do they look down or away and avoid eye contact? 

Again, there are no established rules that tie eye contact to personality type but as a general rule, more charismatic and self-confident personality types will usually be the best at maintaining eye contact and bringing a relaxed feeling to your conversations. 

6. Judging their attention span

If there’s one way to tell someone’s personality when you’re speaking to them, it’s through their attention span. You can easily separate people into two categories: those who listen and those who don’t. 

When someone is speaking to you, pay attention to how they behave in a bigger group. If you’re at a party or big social gathering, how do they react to the people around you? How invested are they in your conversation?

For example, highly sociable personality types like ESFPs are fun-loving and talkative and they always want to be at the center of the action. When you’re in a one-to-one conversation with them, you might notice them getting fidgety if they think they’re missing out on the fun elsewhere. These are the types of conversationalists who love chatting as part of a big group and will probably encourage you to join in with others rather than chatting intensely in a corner somewhere.

Can you guess someone’s personality type from the way they speak?

While it’s very hard to definitively guess someone’s personality type just by having a conversation with them, there are some clues you can use to help you judge personality types of different people. From small quirks like a person’s body language, conversation skills and willingness to open up to you, you can quickly get a sense of the personality type of your conversation partner.

These 6 clues are all ways to tell where someone falls on the personality type spectrum, but to find out for sure you’ll have to ask them - a good excuse for another chat!

Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at bethharris.com