President Obama is often called an ornate speaker. But that is when he has a tele-prompter to read from. Without it, he fumbles for the words to say. Here is a short video from a typical press conference, where he has no prepared words to read from. Listen to him pause and stutter to find the right words to say.
This is a good example of using personality traits to explain why people sometimes fumble for the right words to speak.
Introverts Speak Less Often
Many people point to introverts as having problems forming their words. In a lot of cases, this can be true. I’m an introvert myself, and I’m surrounded in my family by extroverts. I like to point out to them that they are constantly chattering. It is like they can’t form an opinion unless it comes through their ears first. In other word, the sound of the thought comes out of their mouth, bounces off the wall and goes into their ears. Only then, can it get into the thought-process center of their brains.
I don’t know if this is true or not. It probably is an over simplification of what goes on with the extroverts love-of-speech compared to the introvert’s.
But is it true the introvert, since they don’t talk nearly as much as the extrovert, have a problem finding their words like Obama did in the video above?
Here is what I think is happening. In Obama’s case, it has to do with the descision-making traits of Thinking versus Feeling.
Thinking versus Feeling
You probably know from personality research that people make decisions in one of two ways. People that use facts and logic, are said to have the “Thinking” personality trait. People that weigh their decisions on how it will affect others, have what is called the “Feeling” personality trait.
In the Myers-Briggs personality system, this trait of Thinking-versus-Feeling is designated by the third letter in the personality profile. It is either a “T” or an “F”. For example, XXTX or XXFX. My personality profile is ISTJ, so I have the Thinking personality trait.
As I’ve said many times before, one trait is not more desirable than another. Being a person with a T trait does not make you better than a person with a F trait.
What it means, is that your decision making trait makes you more suited to one situation than another. That is exactly what most practitioners use the Myers-Briggs system for as a tool. They use it to try to identify where a person will fit best in society. It is powerful in helping people select their career path, and even in helping them find a mate. It puts them into situations where they are in their element.
In this case, it helps explain why people can have a hard time finding the right words to use.
What Happens When You’re Out Of Your Element?
This is an interesting question. What I’m getting at is, what does it look like to someone else when you try to display a personality trait that is opposite your normal tendencies?
For example, what does it look like if a person that has the Feeling trait tries to put together a logical argument for a decision that they made?
I believe this is exactly why Obama has a hard time finding his words when he doesn’t have a tele-prompter.
As President of the United States, the words that the office-holder uses have extreme consequences. No matter who is President, their words are analyzed to the millionth degree. If they say the wrong word, they will often cause a diplomatic incident. For example, here is Obama calling the death camps: “Polish” – as if they were owned and operated by the Poles.
This one little mis-spoken work did set off a firestorm of controversy in Poland. The camps were Nazi, not Polish.
This situation, where his words are going to be over analyzed, is what is always going on in the mind of the President, no matter who he is. Even George W. Bush was careful with the words that he used.
With that being said, in the case of Obama, the situation is a bit different. He knows that his words are going to be analyzed. So he makes a concentrated effort to make a logical argument when he speaks. But since he makes decisions based on feelings, it is much harder for him.
Therefore, he stumbles on word choice.
It happens in the other direction too. For a person with the Thinking personality trait, they have a harder time talking about feelings and emotions to others.
This can be a particular impediment in dating situations, where the female wants the male to be “warm” and talk about how much he cares about her. Note: This is not all women, but the Feeling trait has a gender bias to it. Of the people that have the Feeling trait, 60% are female. That means that of males, 60% have the Thinking trait. That is just the way it is, and why you’re more likely to hear women talk of the problems of her man not expressing his feelings often enough.
How does this relate to selling?
When you are in a persuasion situation, it is important to know the prospect’s personality type, so that you can formulate a strategy to talk to them.
I don’t suggest that you try to be something you aren’t. In other words, don’t, if you have the Feeling trait (and the prospect does), try to act like you have the Feeling trait. It won’t work.
Why? Because you will come across (to other Thinkers) as a phony and a fake. This is exactly what the Thinkers really believe about Obama. They can sense that he doesn’t know what he is talking about when it comes to non-relationship topics.
If you have the Thinking trait, embrace it. Come right out and say it quickly to the prospect that has the feeling trait. You can say:
Listen, as you get to know me, you’ll come to the conclusion that I have a logical and somewhat “cold” personality. But that gives me a perspective on things that can help you be more successful. Isn’t that what true caring is really about?
They will appreciate that honesty right up front.
If you would like to learn more about how to persuade people based on their personality traits, you’ll find that the Personality Marketing Manual is a vault of valuable ideas, strategies, and tactics. You’ll discover fascinating facts about all of the personality types that you can use to enrich their lives, as well as your own.