Why Business Personality Types Matter to Your Freelance Success

Written by Bethany Johnson on December 5, 2017

My favorite client is also the one I can’t understand. Sometimes it feels like my main contact speaks a different language.

Don’t get me wrong: The company loves my work, compensates me generously and punctually, cross-promotes my personal brand and refers me to others. But the team’s varying business personality types usually make for a convoluted message. Often, I have no idea what they’re asking for.

That is, until now.

I recently had a video chat with a diplomatic contractor relations representative who explained that my main point of contact is an INFJ. If you refer to the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI), this translates to Introversion, Intuition, Feeling and Judging. Whether you’re a MBTI devotee or a sensible skeptic, hearing your favorite client is among the 1 percent of intuitive and introverted business personality types is enlightening. Here’s why.

Some People Cling to Their Type

The number one reason you should pay attention to others’ test results? Because often, they do. You may have concluded that personality tests are total quackery, and you may even be right. But many industry experts have appreciated that illuminating moment when a label allows them to be … well, them. And from that moment on, a set of four letters defines more than their preferences — it defines their very identity. Respecting that is good business. And when handled well, that insight can give you an edge.

You Can Connect Instantly

As an ENTP, my mind raced at the thought of trying to understand an introverted, thoughtful, sensitive coworker like my client. But once I knew his type (and that he uses the label to describe himself), I could easily tell him of a time another “Feeling/Judging” type saved the day. My story showed him how I can appreciate his ways, even if I’m the polar opposite at every turn. In fact, I ended the story by listing ways my former colleague’s opposing strengths — when combined with my type — worked to produce a superior final product.

It’ll Explain Your Past Struggles and Successes

What makes the Myers-Briggs Test so popular is the rush of insight that hits a participant upon reading the results. Viewing your past difficulties and triumphs through the lens of your type can show you why things turned out the way they did. For freelancers, that could mean you:

  • Finally understand why social media marketing feels like drudgery while your competitors seem to embrace and enjoy it

  • Realize why you can raise your rates without batting an eye but always hesitate to chase down past-due client invoices

  • Get why starting projects is more fun than completing and submitting them

  • Appreciate (at last) why you procrastinate, even though you know you’re not lazy

  • Understand for the first time why you feel jazzed after face-to-face client interactions or networking events

You’ll Know When to Adapt

Now that I know what I’m working with, I can understand why my client seems to beat around the bush. The truth is, he doesn’t. Instead, it’s my impatience that makes him seem like a slowpoke communicator. Not only do I know his tendencies now, I also know mine, and I adjust by rephrasing everything slightly. This effort costs me nothing, but pays off in clarity (for me) and a sense of achievement (for him) in the end.

You Can Find Your Perfect Niche

My personality type tends to question conventional wisdom, a strength that can either propel my career forward or land me in the hot seat, depending on where I apply my devil’s advocate approach. Working for brands that want to lead the discussion by bringing up previously un-thought-of perspectives is a unique niche I’m thankful to have found. You can find your professional niche, too, and a personality test is one of the best ways to do just that.

Take it from me: Knowledge of the various business personality types provides you with a special kind of power. You can use this information to empathize and connect with others, gain a better understanding of why you succeed at some things and fail at completing other efforts, adjust your strategy based on your differences and find your jam.

When you consider those benefits in action, you can quickly see how your freelance business could stand to profit. Bring this topic up during your next client discovery call and see whether your contact is a fan of personality studies — or a skeptic. Either way, this intel is your new advantage.

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