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In this episode Joel and Antonia unpack a model for becoming an excellent communicator from the book Made To Stick.

In this podcast you’ll find:

How do you communicate what you believe and how you want the world to be? How do you get that message out? Can we become better communicators in general?

One person may be very certain of the rightness of their position. but when pressed they struggle to back up their position, then succumb to faith as the reason they know something to be a fact. These usually respond with frustration when they cannot convince another of their conviction.

Religion often teaches they have the ultimate truth and endeavor to share it with others. They believe that if others have the right heart conviction they will know “the Truth.” If someone doesn’t see the truth it is because they have the wrong heart condition.

“I”m right and if you can’t see it, you must have bad intent. There’s something wrong with you since you cannot agree with me.”

“You should still agree with me, even if I’m not making a very convincing argument.”

That is the opposite of how reality works. These people expect you to borrow their conviction and be convinced even though it isn’t authentic to you.

When children borrow parent’s convictions it is not sustainable. Kids hand that power to parents and parents are able to convince them from birth, but eventually the kid will choose their own path.

The reality is that if we have a conviction that we want to convince others of, the onus is on us to be convincing. If we can’t convince others, we should not be questioning their intent, but to ask ourselves how can we have done a better job to be more convincing?

Not about brainwashing others. But inspiring others.

We want to spark an Intuitive Awakening Movement to encourage people to see and acknowledge the need for global change and a more desirable model for human interaction.

The onus is on us to be persuasive. It’s not about judging others when they don’t buy our conviction.

“You are responsible for the success of your customer in the products and services they purchase from you.”

“Made to Stick” by Chip & Dan Heath – step by step guide to guarantee your message is sticky. They break down the key components that make an idea successful – 6 components of a sticky meme.

Acronym – SUCCES

SIMPLE – What is the core simple nugget you are trying to get across? If they forgot everything else, what is the one thing they could take away?

Here at PH, our simple message is grow your copilot cognitive function. If you do that one thing you will have a lot of success. Southwest airlines tagline is “The Low Fare Airline.” They give this message to clients, customers and employees. Employees can be quirky and fun as long as it doesn’t hurt the bottom line.  

UNEXPECTED – Break the frame of your listeners.

Las Vegas strip has people who try to hand out ads for brothels and strip clubs. They slap the cards on their hands loudly before they hand you the card. This startles people and breaks them out of their frame just prior to receiving a potentially objectionable advertisement. When someone breaks our frame, we are designed to become more open to suggestion.

CONCRETE – Very specific and tangible. Can be a challenge for iNtuitives. How do you make it approachable to people who don’t like to deal with  intangibilities? Use sensory language. Tactile.

“Burning the candle at both ends.” “I’m at the end of my rope.” Tangible expressions of abstract concepts.

It is often hard for iNtuitives to be concrete.

Youtube video on the Ladder of Abstraction.

Language in Thought and Action by Hayakawa.

What are some of the markers of something being truly concrete versus something being really abstract?

If you want to be an excellent communicator the idea of making things concrete is important.

Sticky is such a wonderful sensory word. The book has masking tape all over to indicate stickiness.

CREDIBLE – We can’t just assume people are going to believe something just because we said it. Point to some research that supports our point.

This is tough for softer sciences like what PH does. What we have done to establish credibility is to have an open 30 day return policy. This is what we have to do to give ourselves credibility. We don’t have a mountain of scientific research to support Meyers – Briggs, so people need to know that they can try it and if it’s not for them then there’s nothing lost. In our particular field we have to make sure we are giving the highest quality information and we are speaking with integrity.

EMOTIONAL – To be sticky something has to have emotional appeal.

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Nobody cares about metrics and data until they know how much you care for them as an individual.

Your credibility is the tail of the comet of emotion and, personal connections. We all need to keep in mind how our message benefits the other person, not just ourselves. People cannot borrow your conviction.

“Don’t Mess with Texas” – anti-littering campaign. It got absorbed in the identity and got co-opted for other things as well.

STORIES – Narratives are powerful. We are more likely to remember a story than a random list of facts and figures. People love stories! That is how we translate our info.

Stories afford an opportunity to simulate what you are talking about for the other person. When you are trying to get somebody to understand your message, a story will help them mirror your message. Stories also inspire. Movie “Rudy.”


  • Simple
  • Unexpected
  • Concrete
  • Credible
  • Emotional
  • Stories

We here at PH believe everyone is fundamentally wired differently. Take this model and use it to communicate with people and it becomes a powerhouse of communication.

Continue exploring type so you can gain the knowledge you need of the different types. Identify your demographic. Speak their language.

We keep things simple. Cognitive Function stacks can be complicated. We try and make it more achievable to the general audience.

We take typology and use it for personal development, which most people don’t do.

Intuitive Awakening Movement is too abstract. A need for more concrete messaging around it.

Our content has a low level of scientific credibility, and yet we have tried to make it credible by providing value up front.

Dario Nardi’s work with Cognitive Functions.

This is not hard science.

People massively over identify with their personality type. It is way past the law of diminishing returns. Everybody’s experiences will vary, but everyone thinks they are the representative for their type. “MY type is [fill in the blank].” There are hundreds of millions of every type, so there is going to be variance. What is the chorus saying, not the individual?


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Showing 23 comments
  • Karin

    This episode was very challenging to me. I realized with several of the points you discussed that I have a tendency to put the onus on the other person to understand what I’m trying to communicate, rather than take the challenge to find a way to meet them where they are. A lot of food for thought here.

    Question: have you all finished up the 16 MBTI types? If so, I must have missed the one on the ISTP, and don’t see it anywhere on your website. Thank you for all of the time you put into each of those episodes. They opened my mind up to the people around me, and helped answer some long-standing “Why are they like that?” questions for me.

    • Joel Mark Witt

      Thanks Karin for the comment.

      You didn’t miss anything. ISTP is still coming up. The holidays were a busy time for us and we will get this out in the next week or so. 🙂

      • Karin

        Thanks for answering my question, Joel. I’ll look out for it.

  • Haavard

    Great podcast – once again! I really liked what you said towards the end; that you want to empower people to communicate their message, whether it’s something you feel that the world or just something else you’ve bottled up inside.

    I definetely know what I struggle to communicate in such a way that people understand what I am trying to say, that is, what I believe we are at the most fundemental level. That you are really just a playing of energy. You are a doing of the Universe, just as a wawe is the doing of the ocean. You are That which comes and goes. Now It is Anne, now It is John, now It is this, now It is that. Now you see It, now you don’t. But of course, this is just one angle to look at reality from, so everyone please feel free to disagree. Sorry for the long comment, but I thought I’d share it, since this is something I’ve tried to communicate to many of my friends earlier, without feeling my message being understood. So now I will definetely make it more concrete and back it up with some everyday examples, thanks;)

    • Haavard

      Ooops, left out a couple of words in that first paragraph: “…that you feel the world has forgotten…” Talk about great communication skills:p

  • Steve

    What are you thoughts on the importance of ‘Concreteness’ given the differences in types between sensors and intuitives?

    I was listening, thinking “no no, give me lots of abstract talk; don’t blend for the sensor majority.”

    Now, I can understand when a general rule/guideline such as SUCCES is researched and developed the predominant winning method for the majority of people will get in to the model. And using examples can of course help when clarifying an concept.

    But what if, instead of using the standard SUCCES all the time, we’d say SUCCES with ‘Concrete’ is great UNLESS you are talking with an intuitive – in which case, use SUCCES with ‘Concepts’?

    Just an idea. We are perhaps 25% of the population after all, even if not widely recognized.

    • Joe

      As much as I enjoy and encourage abstract talk, I agree that concrete examples are necessary, especially if you want to communicate to a larger community of people who perceive the world in that way; also, it will help those who are hard-wired intuitives to communicate to the 3 out of 4 of those who prefer Sensation or Memory as a Driver or Co-pilot.

    • Steve

      I’ve changed my point of view a little on this.
      After considering the factor of concrete examples in communication happening in a number of different circumstances in real life, I now agree that examples are extremely helpful.
      But, I still want the abstract as well. Preferably 1) abstract concept, 2) examples, 3) clarify and relate back to the concept.

  • Tom Weber

    You guys are doing excellent work and I continue to be challenged and grow with your podcasts and blog. Your 102 podcast on communication seems to be for intuitives trying to communicate with sensors in a concrete world. The following is my experience with sensors trying to survive in my INTP abstract design environment.
    I have been very fortunate in having been (now retired) in an engineering environment where I was given the opportunity to design and implement abstract solutions. However, this was a difficult accomplishment in a highly concrete environment. I was also a part-time MBTI facilitator in my free time, so I enjoyed watching and adapting to other engineering personality types.
    I have found that communicating abstract concepts to a concrete engineer was a near, if not impossible, task. I developed tools and processes that would model and analyze any complex system. The tool I developed was an abstract data driven solution that could, with small adaption, be adapted to model any system. The modelers had to follow specific rules when capturing and entering system data. Unfortunately, the concrete modelers had to also understand and adapt the abstract model in the course of their data capture and entry.
    So here’s the catch. I worked closely with 6 different people over 20 yrs and only one iNtuitive engineer could grasp and retain the abstract nature of the model. The other 5 were sensory in nature and needed continuous retraining, sometimes from week to week. This continual flow of concrete support, plus being married to an ISTJ, demonstrated to me that concrete engineers cannot absorb and retain abstract information to the degree necessary to be effectively creative, especially in a highly stressful performance environment.
    Based on this experience, I concluded that sensors will attempt to understand abstract systems/models using concrete information containers, but when they have to rely on this concretized information to accomplish abstract tasking, their concretized knowledge is insufficient to abstractly survive.
    This is the same with T/F. Thinkers do not respond to emotion in the same manner as feelers. Feelers feel and Thinkers think. Carl Jung also said that feeling and emotions are not the same (as many in the MBTI industry proclaim) and further that emotion is generated by complexes. Consequently the feeler can even sometimes be quite cold.
    As a result, when we iNtuitives try to impress an idea onto a Sensor, and we repackage it into concrete terms, the sensor will not be able to perceive the intuition in the same way as we do.

    • Steve

      Thanks for your comment Tom. As an INTP I resonated with it.

      May I ask what environment in Engineering allows greater scope for abstract design?
      I’ve thought about doing Engineering, but thought it would be largely routine sensor-type work.

      Also, you’re comment re feeling v emotions is a good point. Do you have a particularly good reference (web page / video) to check this out in more detail?

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for your comment Tom! That last sentence is a fascinating nuance of the Intuitive/Sensor communication breakdown.

  • Justin Digney

    Dear PersonalityHacker,

    Thanks very much for sharing, your knowledge (& Chip and Dan Heath’s knowledge) on successful communication.

    I paused the podcast to give some feedback on emotional content in your presentations at PersonalityHacker.

    I am an INTP so fall into the category of a Thinker. While I have become very emotional myself watching some of the presentations (probably a reflection of the self learning) I can’t say that your presentations lack or have excessive emotional content.

    While it is true that my personality type has an inferior extroverted feeling process, and I don’t demand any conversation/discussion to stay strictly on topic. I believe this may be the feedback you are receiving.

    I identified something while reading an article recently. The article was on the lecture/professor style of an INTP teacher. The downfalls identified by this individual resonated extremely loudly with me. In fact they resonated so loudly I felt somewhat taken back by my own lacking! While I am not a lecturer or professor, I do teach my work colleagues and my own children etc.

    His comments made me realise how important it is to maintain structure throughout the entire discussion if you want ‘everyone’ to come along ‘happily’ (and I believe your presentations are very well structured, I just need a button to skip the intro – but understand it is needed for new listeners, so isn’t an issue at all). What I also identified was, some types only want to pick and choose the parts they think are valuable to them, and want to skip the rest, in fact may even demand to skip the rest.

    I believe with the realisation that they have enrolled in a whole course (or to learn a full theory), not just a few topics of interest to them, they could perform better by either accepting the whole package as a whole, or by realising there are alternative methods to learn the peaces they need, and choosing to follow alternative paths to learn it.

    I appreciate society is not there yet. They like to hire people with peaces of paper to demonstrate their skills, wether those skills are relevant or if were really learnt in the first place (I have witnessed a lot of people do very well on exams with very little understanding or ability to apply it to the real world.

    My point is, it is just as important to understand the context behind the feedback, as it is to listen and understand the message itself. Someone who finds the emotional content of your presentation is difficult/districting/boring/irrelevant/confusing may not be suited to this medium or the full content offered and may prefer (or be better suited) to immerse themselves in the full soft science of typology.


    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback, Justin! I chucked over your comment regarding the intro. I have always been relieved that Joel and Antonia have such a short intro. I have listened to other podcasts that have long lead-ins.

      That said, I do usually check out in the last minute or two when they are asking for reviews. 😉

  • Christy

    First of all, I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I really love Personality Hacker and fully support the goal of Intuitive Awakening.

    I am a sensor (ISTJ), so I apologize on behalf of all sensors that we’ve made it difficult to communicate your ideas to us. I actually have a lot of intuitive types in my life (and in truth, often feel in the minority) so listening to this podcast is really helpful.

    Just as a suggestion, it really makes a difference when an intuitive is talking to me to know that it’s going to be a two-way conversation. I’ve been “trapped” in many of these one-sided conversations where the person talks and I listen…very patiently…as they explain their ideas. I start getting the feeling that they don’t care who they are talking to, they only care that it’s a warm body. It helps when someone makes me feel included, even if I don’t completely track. I like to feel present in the room. I want to join in and be a part of the intuitive thought process as much as I possibly can be because I find it deeply fascinating.

    Also, I really, REALLY love ideas and new concepts (sometimes, the more abstract, the better). I don’t always understand, but I love being challenged in my way of thinking or living. I absolutely need intuitive conversation and, believe it or not, I don’t need or want you to completely dumb it down or make things concrete all the time. Please, please, please don’t make Personality Hacker more concrete!!! And don’t worry too much about adapting to sensory needs. I find you guys very easy to understand and, as sensors, we need to do our part, too, in finding ways to comprehend new concepts.

    Keep up the amazing work, Joel and Antonia. You guys are starting a much-needed revolution!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks Christy for your valuable perspective. I think we can become too focused on this belief that the Sensor world doesn’t understand us. It makes me happy when Sensors chime in on some of these things and share their unique viewpoints.

      • Lw

        I agree. Despite the different learning styles of sensing and intuiting a lot of online typology forums seem to forget that sensors are, you know, human beings, and actually can do more than the basic respiratory functions.

    • Joe

      I love that you said this, because it shows that not all Sensors are afraid to broaden their minds.

      If definitely pick you to be on my team.

      • Joe


  • Katie

    Antonio and Joel,

    I’ve been very pleased with your blog posts and podcasts. Your explanations have cracked open the cognitive processes for me. I’m not clear on what you want to do regarding the intuitive awakening, but I have to say, as an INFJ, that listening to the podcasts about the different personality types has helped me to better understand the different ways people view the world. I appreciate that so much. I’ve been fascinated by Myers Briggs for years now, but the Personality Hacker content has provided many a-ha moments for me the last couple of months. Thank you!

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the feedback, Katie! I’m happy you are finding so much benefit with Personality Hacker.

      As to the Intuitive Awakening – the first step is convincing iNtuitives to stop blending and start sharing what makes them unique. We can’t expect the Sensor world to sit up and take notice if all the iNtuitives are in hiding. 😉

  • Mark

    Great podcast guys, communicating with other humans is my number one problem in my life so learning how to communicate is where I need personal development. This helps a lot so thanks and glad I found your content.

    • Charis Branson

      Thanks for the comment, Mark! We’re glad you found us too. 🙂

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