The Four “Productivity” Personality Types and How to Write for Each One

The Four “Productivity” Personality Types and How to Write for Each One

Reader Comments (66)

  1. Kristen – What an interesting way to look at productivity 🙂 I am soooooo the fantastical type, but it’s interesting to keep in mind that maybe my prospects don’t respond the same way I do.

    Definitely some good food for thought!

      • That’s funny — I totally identified with the Fantasticals. I’ve had that problem with hiding things in bins in the refrigerator. Last week I just had to move the cherries my Mother gave me or I would have forgotten to eat them.

        I like the idea of writing for personality types. It also forces you to think a little harder before you start writing to figure out what personality type your target is likely to be.

      • I am “The Fantastical personality type” and you have the” type” down right.
        But your solution is Waaay OFFf base. We DO NOT want or need assurances. It is all about experiencing DISCOVERY. You would want to tell, (actually they don’t respond to tell). them how many people have discovered so many properties and uses, for the product or service, that having it is an experience in itself. Ask their assistance (in future) to help others get the most from the product.

  2. You have to got to understand who you are writing for! Breaking it down by personality is a great idea. You can fine tune the same message to resonate with different people.

  3. Knowing who your target audience is is extremely important if you hope to even make a strong connection with them. This was a great example of different group audience.

    Me personally, I think I’m an enviromental and analytical hybrid. I like to cut to the chase and get to the big idea. I’m also a conversationalist so I enjoy in depth discussions with others as well.

    • I didn’t have space to go into it here, but we all have secondary types that reflect our strongest influences growing up. Based on your comment, I’d guess that you’re a primary Analytical with a secondary Environmental. 🙂

      • That sounds very accurate. I often times refer to myself as an extroverted introvert. I like to get to the “meat & potatoes” of it, the important stuff first, the minor details come later as you go alaong. While I do enjoy great conversation, I prefer to sit in the corner and create and crank out projects.

  4. So easy to forget that other people are different to us! As for me, I just can’t live with systems that are too restrictive, well even just a small bit restrictive! Give me the outline and then I’ll make up my own system 😉


    • I’m exactly the same way! If you want me to heed restrictions, you’d better give me a darn good reason for them, otherwise they’re going out the window! 😀

  5. Kirsten,

    In your research, have you found the productivity personality types to be so distinct? In other words, how common is it for people to have varying degrees of multiple types?

    • Excellent question – I’ve found that everyone has one primary type that they take to naturally, and in about half of people that’s the strongest driver by far. In the other half, childhood influences have caused them to develop strengths, usually in one other type. I fall into that category myself – primary Fantastical, secondary Analytical. These people will still respond best to their primary type, and the secondary comes in to play depending on the situation. And all people exhibit certain traits that society has engrained – the vast majority of people will leave their toothbrush in the bathroom after they use it, which is a classic Structural thing.

      So, short answer, yes, everyone has a mix but everyone also has only one natural type that they feel most comfortable with.

      Does that answer your question?

      • It does, thanks.

        The other insight for me is to be aware not to write to our own primary type, rather than the primary type of our ideal customer.

  6. I have to reflect and made a brief pause to check myself. I think I am a back and forth analytical – fantastical person. A fantastical from a creative standpoint, learning by doing – the distinct mark.

    I wonder how this counteract with the personality colors, the red/yellow/blue/green types?

    • You’re similar to me – I have a strong secondary Analytical type, I think because my father is a strong Analytical and he was very involved with our activities growing up.

      That’s a really interesting question with the personality colors… I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’ll definitely take a look!

    • It does seem to correspond reasonably well with the personality colors of the Herman Brain Dominance Indicator (HBDI) model. Yellow for creative, blue for process, green for analytical and red for people. Or yellow for fantastical, red for environmentalist, green for analyticals and blue for structurals. it is a pretty exact match.

  7. This is such a fun topic! I’ve written about these personality types (with different names) on my blog and people love to learn about it. We all have each personality type in us to different degrees. One personality type, usually is more dominant than the others. I laughed when I read your Structural type. It’s so much like my sister. She makes lists about everything and then organizes her lists. A shopping trip is with her is always planned out to each stop and item. I drive her crazy because I’m a Fantastical/Environmental equal blend. I’m on the fly and spontaneous with a strong dose of talking to everyone I come in contact with. Knowing more about different personality types helps us, not only write copy to interest others, but to get along with others better. Knowing how to recognize each personality and how to reach them is also a very important arrow for a sales person to have in their quiver. I enjoyed your article. Thanks for posting it!

  8. Hi Kirsten,

    I think your idea of distinct personality bents for written communication is a lot like it is for giving oral presentations, which is more written about. However, in today’s social media crazed world, we are judged and communicate far more in writing. A cooperative communicator keeps in mind the way that a prospect likes to be communicated with whether in writing or orally.

    My question is: when you are writing a book which is to be read by all 4 of these types, what’s the best way to capture them? I am writing a business book, and struggle with the very point you bring up: we all have our preference for written communication.

    Thanks for your post,


    • Great question, Ellen – I’ve never specifically done this, but I would approach it by planning your book to include sections for all four types. If you make a point in the text, try to incorporate it into a figure for the Analyticals. Bullet point chapter summaries can also work for that, and you can bring in the Structurals there by using the section to explain the benefits of reading that particular chapter. For Fantasticals, having little pull-out sections that go further into the theory behind an idea might be appropriate, and Environmentals will want to know the social impacts of your topic.

      Does that make sense?

      • Yes it does and it also explains the structure of many of the business books I have read. The better ones have figures throughout, a good introduction, a chapter summary. Perhaps the least addressed group is the Environmentalists in most business books.



  9. Thanks for posting this! This is also a great way to potentially segment a market, since companies likely have more than one personality type in their target market. Some questions that provide insight into type would be useful to include in primary market research studies, so that appropriate copy can be developed when talking to various segments within the same market.

  10. Hit all four types by wrapping your words into audio and video. All four types grew up with audio and video, and all four types are busy these days. Ugly Duckling Video Technique FTW.

    • Be careful not to condense too much – Analyticals want their info delivered faster than audio or video, and Structurals typically prefer to skim writing.

      • I should mention I believe the audio/video option should accompany whichever textual technique you use. (Ex. page layout: Video. Under that, audio mp3 plugin. Under that, your text.)

  11. Hi Kirsten,
    Thanks for this very interesting article. I wonder whether our personality type evolves with age and experience? So, for example if my customers are middle aged women, could I assume a certain predominant personality type?

    • Your natural type will never change, but you can gain proficiency in a secondary type, or even multiple secondary types. Lots of people who grow up in an environment contrary to their primary type have very strong secondary types, but your primary type will always feel the most natural and take the least energy to operate from. Your customers may have a predominant personality type, but it wouldn’t be because they’re middle aged women, it would be because your type of business attracts a certain type of woman. Looking at your site, I think you can rule out the Fantasticals, but it’s hard to differentiate further. Why do your clients come to you? Are they looking to gain skills that support their bigger picture, gain skills that support their support of others, or gain skills that are expected in their fields?

  12. Fabulous bit…I’m wondering if there is a reference for figuring out what personality types fit which types of careers? That way I can look up a specific target (like chefs) and find out what they are predominantly.

    • I haven’t worked specifically with careers, but there’s a bit of information in one of my reference texts – Thriving in Mind by Katherine Benziger. You’d be better off interacting with your audience, though, to figure out their primary type. My guess for chefs would be Fantastical, but ask them what their motivations for choosing their career are, and that will tell you a lot about what type they might be. 🙂

    • If you’re doing it to make sure it stays in front of you – yep, that’s classic! I do the same thing, and I’ll keep the file there until I’ve taken whatever action I was supposed to take on it. 🙂

  13. Having worked with Kirsten, I discovered that I’m an even split between Fantastical and Structural – which as you can imagine, is a bit like being the productivity go-between of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde 🙂 My prospects tend to have the same personality type as I do, with a dash of Analytical thrown in for good measure – so I make sure that my copy addresses all those points as well as it can.

    Great article!!

  14. Does any one style predominate? It would be interesting to see a percentage breakdown of the four types. Thanks for an interesting read!

    • I haven’t seen a percentage breakdown in any of the references I used to create this theory, but the authors seem to be assuming it’s an even, four way split. Personally, I’ve seen more Fantasticals in my work, but I suspect that’s because of the market I’m in and the way I write my copy.

      Glad you enjoyed it!

    • Do some reading about the Herman Brain Dominance Indicator (HBDI), it is about four colors that correspond identically with the ones listed here. the breakdowns are interesting. I did a weeks course last year and was blown away. You can address all four in one presentation or article, etc.

  15. This is a great twist on the personality types, and especially on how to write to them.
    Thanks for sharing,

  16. excellent post with excellent tips. these are things that although in my subconscious many times, haven’t really been consciously focused on. i tend to write for an audience who shares a similar background to me – but i guess i am targeting a particular type subconsciously nonetheless

  17. How to respond to a specific Personality Type has been mentioned but it would very difficult to identify the Personality type until & unless we get along with them for couple of time. Personalities cannot be judged instantly!

  18. Kirsten, This is a very interesting article. I find it very new yet a little bit confusing in terms of how would I find my personality to define the type of writer I am. I am sure if I even get the point your are making here. I guess I will need to print it out and get back again with questions.

  19. The key insight that I got from this post is that, regardless of our “resting” personality type, we are different when doing different activities.

    My Myers-Briggs type pegs me as generally an “Environmental” type. However, when I’m researching, I’m generally “Fantastical” (and I’m not just complimenting myself). When I’m writing I’m getting my “Structural” on.

    In short, we can’t treat people as one personality type. We change from channel to channel.

    What are the four personality types when people are solving the problems your business solves?

  20. Great stuff, knowing what your audience wants is just one aspect of writing to capture the market, but it is a great start, so many writers and webmasters do not understand the need for more of this type of subjective analysis, great post looking forward to more.

  21. This is actually an incredible post–you are definitely correct in the importance of knowing your audience. It seems like a lot of people just write without taking into consideration who they are writing for and the information they truly need to relay. Great post! I am looking forward to more like this in the future.

  22. Kirsten,

    Thank you for this article, but I strongly disagree with you on some points.

    I studied personality types theory 20 years ago, and since then I observe people and apply this theory in my life.

    So here are my remarks:

    1. There are not 4, but 16 personality types. Each type is further divided into subtypes, so in the end there is an unlimited number of personality types.

    2. The theory of personality types in not scientifically proven.

    3. According to the theory, the personality type does not change during one life span. This is not true. I saw people changing their personality type with time because of the circumstances and life experience.

    4. It is true that you should write to your ideal customer. It makes your writing more personal. It helps you connect with people. But you do not choose your ideal customer according to their personality type. Your ideal customer is the person who is genuinely interested in your product and who has money to buy it.

    Actually, your ideal customer could be any type. By writing to a specific personality type you limit the number of your potential customers.

    I actually think that your writing naturally reveals your personalty type and attracts similar people. Your personality shines through your writing. You do not adjust your writing to other people’s personalty type.

    • Svetlana, Imagine a woman who naturally has a very Environmental personality preference who wants to find a plumber because she is remodeling her bathroom. She will likely come to plumbing Web sites in a very Structural way, needing details because this is a big expenditure.

      However, when this same woman has a leak under her sink and it is ruining her wood floors, she is going to be Analytical: She’s looking for a Web site with “Emergency Plumbing Service” and a phone number. And no more.

      Regardless of our personality preference, we behave differently in different contexts. Writers must understand the things that bring people to their writing and address the proper issues in the proper way.

      These are what Tim Ash would call a “cognitive style” and the Eisenberg brothers call “Modes of Persuasion.”

  23. Svetlana, Imagine a woman who naturally has a very Environmental personality preference who wants to find a plumber because she is remodeling her bathroom. She will likely come to plumbing Web sites in a very Structural way, needing details because this is a big expenditure.

    However, when this same woman has a leak under her sink and it is ruining her wood floors, she is going to be Analytical: She’s looking for a Web site with “Emergency Plumbing Service” and a phone number. And no more.

    Regardless of our personality preference, we behave differently in different contexts. Writers must understand the things that bring people to their writing and address the proper issues in the proper way.

    These are what Tim Ash wou

  24. Kirsten,

    I never knew about productivity personality types, but now I know – I definitely belong to group #2 🙂

    I can now understand, why you need to write differently for different types – thanks for teaching us that!


  25. Before i started to read this page in full i really wanted to get to the point to find out what it was about, how helpful and how effective it would be for me to read!! haha take it that means im an analytical type. Knowing what type i am is one thing but also understanding that other people require different information in different ways is also a great help, thanks!

  26. Thanks, Kirsten, for a great detailed post.

    Psychologists and other mental health professionals often say that people with personality disorders are hardest to treat and change. They say that a person’s personality is so ingrained into the fibers of our beings that we essentially become our personalities.

    This speaks to the premise that writing, or speaking, to a person’s personality is perhaps the most direct way to reach them. Instead of dancing around the periphery, you summed up how to reach for the core.

    Let Your Child Fail

  27. This is a fantastic post! From the comments many people are looking to identify their own personality, but we need to specifically figure out our target’s personality which might be quite different from our own. Therein lies the real challenge and where the hard work truly kicks in.

  28. Finding that fine line between what you know and what your target audience knows now that is a goal worth achieving, when you can write for those that read and not just to try and supply your own thoughts and ideas but generate true artistic ingenuity, then you will have perfected the art of writing.

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