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Investigating email personality types to better understand yourself and clients

Understanding email personality types

Doctor Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Psychology Professor at the University of Massachusetts Amherst imposed the five main personality types (typically used in psychology and psychotherapy) to emails to better understand digital communications. Dr. Whitbourne notes that the days of analyzing handwriting have changed given the rise in email communications and analysts across the globe are struggling to investigate how the lexicon of email can be analyzed like handwriting.

First, let’s look at the Five Personality Types according to Dr. Whitbourne’s summary:

Openness to Experience: This is the willingness to entertain new ideas, to enjoy exploring fantasies and adventure, and to appreciate the arts.

Conscientiousness: As the term implies, people who are conscientious are punctual, neat, and attentive to detail. They can be counted on to complete what they start.

Extraversion: People high on extraversion are outgoing, sociable, and willing to self-disclose. They’re typically happy and optimistic. Conversely, people high on introversion, the opposite end of the scale, prefer to be by themselves, are uncomfortable in social situations, and don’t like to reveal much about their inner states.

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Agreeableness: Easy-going and immune to the aggravations that come from everyday annoyances, people high in agreeableness are also calm and level-headed. You won’t hear much complaining from them.

Neuroticism: This is perhaps the darkest of the Big Five, because people high on Neuroticism are prone to excessive worry, anxiety, and feelings that others don’t like them. They are pessmistic, always expecting the worse. They tend to ruminate over their perceived failures and are high in self-doubt.

These five personality types are helpful to understand in business regardless of tech implications, but Dr. Whitbourne attempts to impose these five personality types on emails, noting that there is obviously overlap just as with personalities, but understanding this theory could be extremely helpful in better understanding yourself and your clients. Let’s take a look at the Professor’s five types and her recommendations accordingly.

Email type one:

The open to experience email type: Dr. Whitbourne notes that this type of emailer is whimsical, uses abbreviations, often short. The open to experience hates capitalization and my be the accidental “reply all” email rusher.

Email type two:

The conscientious email type: The doctor says this type of emailer is more thoughtful, detailed, often long, and responds rapidly to email, often keeping an empty email inbox. This type properly edits emails.

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Email type three:

The extraverted email type: this type says “Hi!” rather than “Dear,” according to Dr. Whitbourne. Exclamation points are common and most emails are enthusiastic in nature, and this type is usually the first to initiate the follow up after first meeting someone and frequently shares their inner thoughts and feelings.

Email type four:

The agreeable email type: this type says yes to everything in order to accommodate and don’t read much into other emailers’ motives despite potential tone. This type is polite and fair, evenly tempered and never passive aggressive.

Email type five:

The neurotic email type: this type of emailer over analyzes everything from their own behavior and details of interactions to the “signs of possible criticism or hidden meaning” within an email, Dr. Withbourne says. This type reads an email several times before sending, not for grammar errors but to be sure they haven’t said anything that could be read into improperly by others.

Which type are you?

These five types are outlined in more depth on, but by reading the above summaries, Which of the above types are you? Are you a combination of multiple types? Does this help you to identify personality types you work with in the field or perhaps fellow real estate professionals?

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Tara Steele is the News Director at The American Genius, covering entrepreneur, real estate, technology news and everything in between. If you'd like to reach Tara with a question, comment, press release or hot news tip, simply click the link below.


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