As Health Coaches we strive to motivate and to bring out the very best in our clients. Have you noticed that what works for one client, may not necessarily work for another? Have you ever wondered why this is so? Well, it’s all to do with our personalities. Personality Typing when used correctly can be an incredibly useful tool for self growth and acceptance, to help us understand the opinions and actions of others, and can be instrumental when trying to communicate with people that appear to be very different from us. Understanding your client’s Personality Type will provide insight into how best to connect with them, how to draw out their strengths and to help them reach their health goals.
What is Personality Typing?
Research performed by Carl Jung, Katharine C. Briggs and Isabel Briggs Myers has lead to the development of Personality Typing. The current theory is that every individual has a primary mode of operation within four categories:
- Our flow of energy
- How we take information
- How we prefer to make decisions
- The basic day-to-day lifestyle that we prefer
These four categories are thought to be dichotomies (bipolar dimensions where each pole represents a different preference) and we show a preference to be either:
- Extraverted or Introverted
- Sensing or Intuitive
- Thinking or Feeling
- Judging or Perceiving
We naturally find ourselves following a pattern of behavior that leans more to one pole than the other. For example, do you feel energized after personal interactions and are you often described as the life of the party? If so, you are likely to display extraverted behaviors. On the other hand, if the thought of snuggling into a cosy chair with a good book sounds like your ideal way to recharge, then it’s likely that you display more introverted behaviors. We all display different degrees of these preferences, and it’s quite normal to demonstrate aspects of both.
When you consider the four categories and their dichotomies and all the various combinations someone may display, this equates to sixteen different Personality Types. Some personalities are more common than others, and not everyone will strictly fall into one category.
Personality Typing allows us to identify our strengths and our weaknesses. However, it’s important to know that how we are at this very moment is not necessarily how we are going to be for the rest of our lives. Life experiences can allow us to grow in some areas more than others. For example, a naturally introverted teacher may find that their profession gives them more exposure to speaking in front of large groups (in a classroom situation) and this can change their preference on the introverted/extraverted scale.
How do we identify our Personality Type?
Personality Typing is used by recruiters and employers to provide insight into how an individual will perform in a particular role or job, and how they will interact with the other Personality Types within the workplace. Understanding your own as well as your clients’ Personality Type will give you a coaching edge, and will help you help your clients achieve their health goals.
Freely available Personality Typing questionnaires that are based on Briggs/Meyers Personality Typing, can be found online, and can be used as a simple and fast method of identifying your Personality Type. It may not be feasible or necessary to ask all your clients to perform a Personality Typing questionnaire. However, being aware of the different Personality Types will make you more aware of the different personalities we may interact with, and knowing how to best coach someone based on their natural preferences will allow you modify your coaching strategy accordingly.
What are the different Personality Types?
The sixteen different Personality Types can be classified into 4 sub-groups:
- The Sentinels (Consols, Executives, Defenders, Logisticians)
- The Explorers (Virtuosos, Adventurers, Entrepreneurs, Entertainers)
- The Analysts (Architects, Logicians, Commanders, Debaters)
- The Diplomats (Advocates, Mediators, Protagonists, Campaigners)
Here, we’ll introduce the four Sentinel Personality Types and provide some helpful coaching tips to get the best out of clients who display these personalities. Sentinels are easy to get along with, highly practical and love structure and order. They are usually hard working and respect traditions, hierarchies and rules. Sentinels are not afraid of a challenge, but can be reluctant to try new things.
Extraverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging.
Consols are popular, caring, thoughtful and very eager to please. Consols make up 12% of the population.
Coaching tips: Consols are great at making conversation and are very good communicators. They are very likable and very loyal, so if they are happy with your coaching and the results they’re getting from your services, they are likely to stay with you and spread the work onto others. Consols have a strong sense of responsibility, so once they have made a commitment to make lifestyle and health changes, they are going to try their best to stick to their new routine. Consols are true team players, so they will work best if they see you as their co-conspirator; it’s important to make them feel like they’re not on their health journey alone. Understand that it may take some time for a Consol to come around to the idea of eating more primally-aligned foods or dropping their chronic cardio workouts. Try not to push any advice too forcefully with a Consol. They made need time to adjust to an idea. Consols can become very defensive when they feel their beliefs are being criticized. Consols do not handle criticism very well, so craft your wording within your sessions, emails and phone calls very carefully as to not to upset them. Consols require lots of appreciation and thrive on positivity. Positive acknowledgment of their good achievements will bring out the best in a Consol.
Extraverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.
Executives have superb management skills and are excellent administrators. Executives make up 11% of the population.
Coaching tips: Executives are very dedicated, strong-willed, loyal, patient and reliable, and once they have decided to make changes towards a healthier lifestyle, you know they will do their best to commit to their health journey, no matter how hard or challenging it may be. They are unlikely to skip sessions or make up excuses. Executives are honest and direct and they appreciate straight-talk. They are highly organized, and will enjoy the structure of regular grocery shopping lists and meal plans. One of the most important aspects of coaching an Executive is to provide facts and evidence to back up what you are saying. It is not uncommon for an Executive to dismiss an idea if they cannot see that it will be a better option over what they are currently doing. An example of this may be a reluctance to stop chronic cardio exercise. The best way to overcome this is to provide plenty of evidence to prove that strength and resistance training in combination with frequently moving at a slow pace will actually give better health results than daily long hard runs and aerobics classes. Show them scientific articles, and/or blog posts from a respectable source like Mark’s Daily Apple. It’s not that Executives aren’t willing to change their behavior, they just need to see the evidence first. Executives will tell it the way they see it, and won’t hold their tongue if they don’t agree with your coaching methods. Listen to what they say, and remember to always be respectful. Executives find it hard to let go and relax, so it’s essential that you put great emphasis on incorporating play and rest into their lives.
Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging.
Defenders are warm and dedicated protectors that are ready to defend their loved ones at all times. Defenders make up almost 13% of the population.
Coaching tips: Defenders are filled with enthusiasm and are meticulous and careful. They are very patient and extremely reliable, and will make sure a task is achieved to its highest standard. They are very loyal and form emotional attachments to certain ideas and organizations. These attributes make defenders highly coachable. They are most comfortable with routine and organization, so you know that if you provide them with a detailed, structured health plan, including a detailed shopping list or meal preparation ideas, they are likely to stick to it. Defenders are humble, shy and very private and may find it difficult to open up about personal issues if they don’t feel at ease. Take the time to build a genuine rapport with a Defender if you sense resistance opening up. Defenders offend easily, so tread with caution when reviewing current lifestyle choices. Defenders are reluctant to change, and usually require a life-changing event to trigger a lifestyle transformation. One great coaching tip when working with a Defender is to identify what their life-changing event was and how it impacted on them. This will help you understand what drives them, which you can then use to help them achieve their health goals.
Introverted, Sensing, Thinking, Judging.
Logisticians are extremely fact-minded and highly reliable. They are the most abundant Personality Type, making up around 13% of the population.
Coaching tips: Logisticians are strong willed and dutiful. They are extremely hard working and have an amazing ability to stay focused on their goals. They are also patient and determined, and are very good at keeping promises to themselves and to others, which are great attributes for setting realistic health goals. Logisticians can handle criticism well and prefer honesty and a direct approach. They put a huge emphasis on knowledge, facts, and statistics, but struggle with concepts and underlying principles. Logisticians can be stubborn and resistant to new ideas, so be gentle if you sense resistance to any health concepts and remember to have your proof in the form of hard facts from respectable sources readily available. Logisticians can be insensitive and judgmental, so as their Health Coach, remember not to take anything personally.
As you can see from these four Sentinel Personality Types, subtle differences in one’s personality can have a huge impact on your coaching strategy for a client. Understanding your client’s perspective is key to getting the best out of them. We will delve deeper into the coaching strategies for the Explorers, the Analysts and the Diplomats in future posts.