This pandemic might have us stuck at home and/or keeping our distance from other people. But that doesn’t mean we have to go without conversation. We humans are social creatures, and even the introverts need other people sometimes. And so we head online to talk with people on social media, or pull out our phones and call a friend, or join one of the Zoom hang-outs that people are organizing to stay in touch. If we’re still leaving our homes, we might have the chance to talk with customers and co-workers in-person as well.
But what do you talk about?
Assuming you want to move beyond the weather and other small-talk, then you’ll need to find a topic that the other person is interested in as well. When trying to draw others into conversation, it can help to know what things different personality types like to talk about.
I recently published two posts about how to tell which Myers-Briggs® type you’re having a conversation with: How Do You Know If You’re Talking with a Feeling or a Thinking Type? and How Do You Know If You’re Talking with an Intuitive or a Sensing Type? Figuring out which personality type someone has is going to involve talking with them quite a bit, so if that’s part of your goal then you’ll already be having a conversation with. Once you know someone’s type, or have a good guess which type they might be, then knowing how to start a deeper conversation with each personality type can help you move past small-talk to connecting on a more meaningful level.
Talking With Feeling Types
INFPs, ISFPs, ENFJs, and ESFJs all have a Feeling function as the strongest part of their personalities. (If you need a refresher on how function theory works in Myers-Briggs® types, click here.) If you know someone is a Feeling type, then the following tips can help you engage them in conversation. These tips can also work for talking with types that have Feeling as their co-pilot function, which includes ESFPs, ENFPs, INFJs, and ISFJs.
As a general rule, Feeling types tend to connect best with conversations that are personal and human-focused. They want to hear about your hopes and dreams and have you show an interest in their’s. They want to know what you’re passionate about and why you care, and that they’re welcome to share their passions with you. They thrive on discussing personal issues and talking about ways to solve problem that affect people in our society and the world as a whole. Here are some questions you can use to start a deeper conversation:
- In what ways do you find your work meaningful?
- What books or films have you seen that connect with you on an emotional level?
- Can I ask your advice about a personal matter?
- What do you enjoy doing in the time you have for yourself?
Talking With Thinking Types
INTPs, ISTPs, ENTJs, and ESTJs all have a Thinking function as the strongest part of their personalities. If you know you’re talking with a Thinking type, then you can use the following conversation tips to help engage them in conversation. These tips can also work for types with Thinking as their co-pilot function. That includes ESTPs, ENTPs, INTJs, and ISTJs.
In general, Thinking types connect best with conversation topics that invite them to use the impersonal, logical side of their personalities. They want to talk about achievable goals and objectives, and how to get there. They like it when you bring up factual data related to the topic at hand. They thrive on problem-solving. Debates can quickly engage them, but don’t pretend to be knowledgeable about a topic you don’t understand — they’ll see right through it. Here are a few conversation starters to try out:
- What’s an idea or project you’re currently fascinated by?
- Can I get your advice on how to plan my next steps toward a specific goal?
- What’s your opinion on [insert topic here]?
- Do you have ideas for how I/we/society could improve this?
Talking With Intuitive Types
INFJs, INTJs, ENFPs, and ENTPs all have an Intuitive function as the strongest part of their personalities. If you know someone is an Intuitive type, these conversation tips can help you engage them in conversation. The tips also work for types with Intuition as their co-pilot, such as ENFJs, ENTJs, INFPs, and INTPs.
Intuitive types typically enjoy conversations focused on patterns, ideas, and future possibilities. They like talking about big-picture concepts and ideas that may or may not ever become useful in real life. They enjoy putting patterns together and coming up with innovative solutions to problems. They’ll be pulled in by conversations related to what might be, could be, and should be. Here are some questions to try asking an Intuitive if you want to start a deeper conversation:
- I have an idea. If I tell you about it, can I get your honest opinion?
- How do you think [insert current issue] will turn out in the end?
- Have you learned anything interesting lately?
- What is something you would love to see implemented in the world that would change things for the better?
Talking With Sensing Types
ISFJs, ISTJs, ESFPs, and ESTPs all have a Sensing function as the strongest part of their personalities. If you know someone is a Sensing type, these conversation tips can help you engage them in conversation. These tips will also work for types with Sensing as their co-pilot function, such as ESFJs, ESTJs, ISFPs, and ISTPs.
In general, Sensing types prefer to stay grounded in concrete reality and discuss things that relate to real life. They love to talk about their pasts, such as the adventures they’ve been on or what they’ve learned from life. They’re engaged by conversations related to what’s happening in the world around them and how they like to spend their time. They’ll welcome the opportunity to talk about projects, achievements, and experiences that you or they are doing, have done, or plan on in the future. Here are some conversation starters you can try:
- What is your experience with [insert something you’re curious about]?
- Can I ask your advice with this project I’m working on?
- What are some adventurous experiences you’ve tried?
- How do you spend your time when you’re not working?
What tips do you have for talking with someone of your personality type? Share in the comments!
If you want to read more about how to talk with each of the 16 personality types, I recommend these blog posts:
- What Each Myers-Briggs® Personality Type REALLY Wants to Talk About
- How To Approach A Conversation With Each Myers-Briggs Personality Type
Featured image credit: Harli Marten via Unsplash