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11 Personality Archetypes: How to Build Trust And Rapport With Clients

Take your clients as you find them. Build trust based on who they are, not whom you wish them to be.

Building quick trust is the desired outcome of the initial interaction with any prospective clients, patients, or negotiating counterparties. Because they are an unknown quantity at your first encounter, your initial posture should be to let them know your priority is making them look and feel good. After that, trust building depends on how you approach the different personalities of the potential clients and patients you meet.

Photo: Larry Jacobson, EdD, JD | Courtesy Photo
Photo: Larry Jacobson, EdD, JD | Courtesy Photo

Your global approach is the same regardless of the personality type; you should go into every interaction with an open mind. Then you should move on to ascertaining their personality archetype and find ways to build trust, educating them in a collaborative and problem-solving manner.


11 Personality Archetypes

After the initial interaction, you will be better able to determine how to proceed by understanding their primary personality archetype. There are 11 different personality archetypes that you might encounter.


  1. The Close-to-the-Vest is mysterious about their interests and objectives. They give out little information about themselves, their concerns, or their goals. This type of person is tightlipped, and you need to expend a significant amount of time building trust before they will open up.
  2. The Tough Nut quickly demonstrates a high degree of skepticism about the topics at hand and your ability to help them, challenging you on your professional questioning approach and knowledge. This type of person may be tough or just putting up a tough persona (you might not know the difference), but you need to spend time and energy on relationship-building questions, and then use competence-proving techniques to crack open the nut.
  3. The Know It All thinks they know a ton about the topic at hand and/or anything related to it when they don’t know much at all. They tend to be argumentative and closed-minded and may aggressively express through words and actions that they are equal, if not superior, to the professional with respect to the technical matters at hand. You deal with this type of person not by being competitive or arrogant about your knowledge base, but by showing quiet competence regarding the matter at hand and being confident in your interactions with them.
  4. The Novice quickly reveals little or no knowledge about the topic at hand and knows it. They require a great deal of education, and you need to be patient since they are likely to not have a knowledge gap, but also a comfort gap, both of which need to be addressed.
  5. The Tire Kicker shows little or no interest in the topic at hand. They like to waste your time, are unfocused, and are frequently insincere. When you deal with a tire kicker, you should ask questions to determine the seriousness of their situation and the urgency of their needs.
  6. The Indecisive person shows a lack of focus or ability to make even the most basic decisions. They ask a lot of questions and initially seem interested in a professional relationship, but when the time comes to decide on hiring you, they delay by coming up with questionable excuses. When you deal with an indecisive, you should gently press them as to whether they have any questions. Once they are done asking questions, the best approach is to politely but firmly ask if they are ready to commit to a professional relationship.
  7. The Long-Timer will engage in a deliberate and potentially lengthy approach to making decisions related to the topic at hand and to the relationship between the parties. Rather than being someone whose personality is one of indecision, it is one of deliberation. A long-timer has a genuine need for a professional relationship and, in fact, wants a long-term relationship
  8. The Schmoozer wants to socialize more than they want to address the topic at hand. They can spend an excessive amount of time talking about matters that are totally irrelevant. A schmoozer might also be a tire kicker or an indecisive one. With a schmoozer, you need to take control of the conversation in a gentle way and let them know that you are there to help them by moving to important matters.
  9. The Knowledgable person quickly and clearly demonstrates a high level of understanding of the topic at hand. You should respect the expertise of the knowledgeable and, in fact, should dedicate early efforts to building the relationship, showing empathy for their situation and, when getting into the advice stage, speaking with them as a true equal.
  10. The Quick Draw wants a fast resolution, regardless of their knowledge base. This type of person comes into your office and says, “I have 20 minutes. Tell me what I need to know before I decide to hire you.” In this situation, acknowledge their time constraints, but explain you have a process to get to know them and their problem. If you go over the time they allot, gently explain it is in both of your best interests to continue the conversation.
  11. The Egomaniac’s top priority is to feel superior to the professional on the matter at hand and dominate the relationship from an interpersonal perspective. This type of person is easy to discern within the first 30 seconds of an interaction. They’re egotistical, arrogant, and poor listeners. Since they are used to being told by others what they want to hear, rather than what they need to hear, you must quickly display high competence and quiet confidence by both taking over the conversation and acknowledging their ego.


Developing Insta-Trust

There are no simple answers as to the best way to deal with each of the personality archetypes, however, there is a simple approach that applies to all situations and personalities. It involves you having an educational and collaborative technique with the prospective clients to ascertain the timeframe and their commitment.

In all cases, you will need to exhibit considerable patience when interacting. Whether dealing with such archetypes as the novice, the know-it-all, the tire kicker, or the long-timer, it takes time to build trust with people who truly are not matter-of-fact in terms of intention or action. Impatience can be the death of professional trust building. You know more about the matter at hand than the potential client. Don’t ruin a potentially beneficial relationship by demonstrating impatience when dealing with a client who is challenging, impetuous, or deliberate.


Build Trust and They Will Come

Again, your goal is to treat trust building as your number one outcome in terms of a business objective. If you build trust, the professional result shall come.

At the end of the day, you need to take your clients as you find them. You aren’t a social worker, psychologist, or psychiatrist. You need to build trust based on who they are, not whom you wish them to be.


Larry Jacobson, EdD, JD is a practice transition specialist and attorney who has represented professionals and professional service firms for over 40 years. In working with his clients, he developed his proprietary Wheels of Insta-Trust™️ and personality archetype analysis. His new book is Insta-Trust: The Proven Trust Building Process to Create Instant Rapport & Long-Term Relationships (Sound Wisdom, February 2023). Learn more at  protrustconsulting.com.


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