There’s one fact that there’s no denying: Personality has a huge impact on the way we communicate.
Don’t believe me? Take a minute to think about how you’d speak during an afternoon visit with your grandmother. Now, think about how you talk when you’re out for a Friday evening cocktail with your good friend.
You’re the same person—but, in those different circumstances, you’re going to switch up your communication style pretty drastically. Why? Well, because you know those individuals well enough to understand how to speak in a way that resonates with them most.
That’s human nature when it comes to the people you’re close with. But, what about your professional contacts? When you don’t share a necessarily tight bond with them, how can you get a better understanding of how to successfully communicate with them?
Enter the magical solution with a simple name: Crystal.
What Exactly Is Crystal?
Crystal isn’t exactly new—it’s been around for quite some time. But, if you’ve never heard of it before, here’s the general gist: It’s a plug-in that integrates with things like your calendar (it’ll work with both Google and Outlook!), your inbox, and LinkedIn.
Once you get it setup and synced, it’ll provide you with different tips and insights about your contacts’ different personalities. Crystal claims that this information will empower you to write better emails, run better meetings, and overall communicate in a way that’s more effective and efficient for that specific person.
Sounds simultaneously creepy and cool, right? Naturally, in the interest of satisfying my own curiosity (ahem, I mean good journalism) I decided that I needed to give it a try for myself.
In terms of pricing, Crystal does offer a free plan that will get you access to your own DISC personality assessment and relationship reports for your contacts.
But, in order to get a better feel for how this would really play out, I signed up for the “Professional” plan at $19 per month. With that subscription, I also gained access to Crystal’s “Email Coach” feature to help me craft better emails based on that specific contact’s personality (which, honestly, was what I was most interested in test driving).
Using Crystal to Understand Yourself
One of the things I found to be most enlightening after immediately signing up with Crystal was the option to take a DISC assessment and generate my own personality profile.
This information is designed to not only help you become a little more self-aware, but Crystal will also use the results of that assessment to help other users understand how to better communicate with you. (If you’re looking for a little extra reading, you can dig into how Crystal gathers all of their personality data on their FAQ page.)
I was pleasantly surprised with how accurate the results of my own DISC assessment were (shout out to my fellow IS-ers out there!). In addition to a general overview of my personality, Crystal also outlined other important facts—such as what motivates me and what I prefer in terms of communication.
The email tips, in particular, were eerily accurate. I’ll be the first to admit it: I love a good emoticon.
I was already impressed with how Crystal helped me understand myself. But, there was still one big question lingering in my mind: What about my contacts? How would it help me communicate with them?
I installed the Chrome extension and decided to put it to work with one of my very own Muse colleagues.
Using Crystal to Understand Others
To give Crystal an honest try, I began drafting an email to The Muse’s own Editor-in-Chief, Jenni Maier . After typing her email address into the address field, I clicked the handy Crystal extension to find out more about her.
To start, I took a look at Jenni’s own personality profile—which was equally revealing as my own. The browser extension shares a few highlights right in your same email window, and you can then click the link to view that contact’s entire profile in a separate tab on your browser.
Another thing I found particularly helpful? The “Email Coach” tool that appeared in the extension (again, this is a feature you’ll only get with a paid Crystal subscription). Using Jenni’s personality data, this tool shared tips and advice for how I could improve my email in the following areas:
- Subject Line
- Call to Action
- Sign Off
As you draft an email, Crystal will underline words and make suggestions in real-time about how you can improve your writing.
Even cooler? This handy feature also generated personalized email templates I could use to do everything from invite Jenni to a coffee meeting to check in on a deadline.
Crystal in Action
I didn’t require a template at that point in time—instead, I just needed to ask Jenni a quick question about an upcoming article.
So, I decided to implement all of the helpful advice that Crystal gave me to write an email that would better resonate with Jenni—such as using a detailed subject line and making an effort to speak rationally, logically, and directly.
For example—as you can see above—when I typed the phrase “quick question” into my email body, Crystal underlined it in blue and encouraged me to get right to my inquiry without prefacing it.
How did all of this email advice pan out? Well, here’s a look at the original message I had drafted before utilizing Crystal:
And, here’s what I ended up with after putting all of Crystal’s suggested tips and tricks to good use:
After drafting both of them, I decided to really put Crystal to the test by asking Jenni a simple question without providing her with any additional context: Which one of these emails do you like better?
You guessed it—she strongly preferred the latter option, proving that whatever witchcraft Crystal uses to understand your contacts obviously has some merit.
Is Crystal Worth Using?
Overall, I was super impressed with everything that Crystal was able to understand about both me and my contacts. And, while I likely won’t put it to use for those quick messages that I need to fire off without much thought, I plan to continue to use it for lengthier emails or correspondence with people that I don’t know quite as well.
As for you? I highly recommend giving at least the free version a try. If nothing else, you might just be able to trick your colleagues into thinking you’re some sort of psychic.
Did you test Crystal out for yourself? Let me know on Twitter if you loved it or hated it!
Photo of person on laptop courtesy of Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch/Getty Images.
Kat is a Midwest-based freelance writer, covering topics related to careers, productivity, and the freelance life. In addition to The Muse, she's a contributor all over the web and dishes out research-backed advice for places like Atlassian, Trello, Toggl, Wrike, The Everygirl, FlexJobs, and more. She's also an Employment Advisor at a local college, and loves helping students prepare to thrive in careers (and lives!) they love. When she manages to escape from behind her computer screen, she's usually babying her two rescue mutts or continuing her search for the perfect taco. Say hi on Twitter @kat_boogaard or check out her website.More from this Author