Leaders, Are You Using Personality Data to Your Advantage?


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A continually growing field, there are many practical applications for artificial intelligence in today’s business economy. From personalized advertising and product recommendations to fraud detection and revenue prediction, businesses have tons of data at their disposal which can provide extremely valuable insights for making better business decisions.

And there are business decisions you make so subconsciously that you don’t even realize you’re making them. These decisions primarily have to do with how you choose – consciously or not – to communicate. Every time you make a call, send an email or talk with someone face-to-face, you are making decisions about your tone, the information you’re sharing and the goal of the interaction.

Of course, you could make better decisions about your communication style if you were more aware of what you are doing. That’s where Personality AI comes in. Using text classification and natural language processing, Personality AI software can identify personas and give information about the likely behaviors and motivations associated with them.

The Empathy Equation

With that information in hand, you can cater your style to best communicate with each persona using what is called the Empathy Equation (This information is drawn from the recently published book written by my co-founder Greg Skloot and me, “Predicting Personality: Using AI to Understand People and Win More Business.”)


The equation is a simple way to set yourself up for the greatest chance of success in every meeting, call, or email. It requires you to identify three key things before you interact with someone:

  • WHAT they want from the interaction.
  • WHY they want it.
  • HOW they want to interact.

For example, if I’m preparing to ask my boss for a raise, it’s going to be a high pressure, nerve-wracking meeting. I can’t trust that I’ll be particularly bold or quick-witted in that meeting, but if I can fill in the Empathy Equation beforehand, I can go in much more confident that I’ll get the results I’m looking for:

  • WHAT = My boss wants me to be productive, motivated, and committed to our company for at least the next 2 years.
  • WHY = If the team exceeds our annual targets and retains its top performers, my boss is in line for a big promotion.
  • HOW = My boss is most comfortable with lots of historical data and logic to support decisions, so I should prepare as much external research as possible before our meeting.

Practical Uses for Personality Data

This formula can be applied to almost any scenario in which people are communicating. Below are some of the most practical and effective uses for personality data (from “Predicting Personality”).

Sales, Business Development and Outreach

While learning about your co-worker’s personalities can be complex, at least you have plenty of time to do it since you often interact day after day. It’s an entirely different ballgame when your role involves reaching out to strangers outside of your organization for sales or business development. Making a good first impression is often the difference between igniting a conversation or being sent to the trash folder. Personality AI helps you succeed with many types of outreach, such as:

  • Sending more effective cold emails.
  • Preparing for meetings and phone calls with customers you do not know well.
  • Using the most effective approach for negotiation and persuasion.
  • Understanding the core motivations of each customer.

Leadership, Management and Coaching

If you manage others or serve as a coach, one of your top priorities is likely understanding the interpersonal dynamics of your team so you can set each individual up for success. As a manager, you often learn about your team members through trial and error. When someone reacts poorly to a decision you made or an explanation you gave, you may make a mental note to adjust your style in the future. Personality AI helps you quickly and confidently adjust your style to effectively manage the many unique personality types on your team. Leaders typically use Personality AI to:

  • Have more productive and efficient meetings.
  • Motivate and encourage their team with the right approach.
  • Deliver feedback in a way that yields the best results.
  • Resolve conflicts as diplomatically as possible.

Recruiting and Team Building

There are few better examples of the need to understand personalities than when sourcing new employees for a team. Each personality type may respond very differently to a job post, interview or leadership style of the hiring manager. Understanding these differences from the onset of the interview process can make the difference between a successful, long-term hire instead of a failed candidate. Recruiters and hiring managers tend to leverage Personality AI when:

  • Reaching out to potential candidates for your team.
  • Understanding the right questions to ask in an interview.
  • Pitching a role or company in the best possible way.

To put one of these practical uses into context using the empathy equation, let’s say you’re about to go into a sales meeting with my colleague Greg. You’ve plugged Greg’s LinkedIn profile into the personality AI software, and it told you that (from “Predicting Personality”):

Greg is an Architect, which means he is a pragmatic, results-driven executor who can sniff out inefficiencies and change his mind quickly based on new information. For this call, you will need to do your homework if you want him to sign the dotted line.

Here’s what an empathy-driven approach would look like…


In an office lease, Greg is probably looking for:

  • Competitive pricing compared to the rest of the local market.
  • Detailed cost breakdowns and any additional costs that he may need to account for in the future.
  • Clear rules and terms, without any vague legal language that could create a disadvantage.


Greg is primarily driven by motivations like:

  • Winning the best possible deal for his company to reduce costs.
  • Having as much clarity and visibility into the future as possible.
  • Understanding the underlying intentions and trustworthiness of the other parties involved.


Greg tends to:

  • Maintain tight control over information.
  • Use firm or forceful language to push for a better outcome.
  • Ask lots of questions to understand the motivations of the other side.
  • Criticize any potential inaccuracies or inflated claims.

While you can’t put people in narrow boxes, nor predict their behavior with 100 percent accuracy, you can use personality predictions as a base to make more informed decisions in interpersonal interactions. Even if you don’t have everyone precisely pegged, you will find that overall you sell better, lead better and build better teams with personality data in your toolbelt.

Drew D'Agostino
Drew D’Agostino is the CEO of Crystal, the app that tells you anyone’s personality. Using AI, Crystal accurately identifies a person’s motivations, communication style, and other behavioral traits. Thousands of professionals globally use Crystal to communicate more effectively, write more persuasively, and build trust faster with new people. Previously, Drew was CTO of Attend.com, an event management software company. He is the co-author of a book being published by Wiley on November 19th, "Predicting Personality."


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