Personality

“I can’t change how I am!”

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Published on Mon, 03/07/2016 - 11:33 by Bill McAneny

StoneHow often have you heard someone say: ‘I’m too set in my ways,’ or ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ as a way of avoiding having to change? Sure personality tends not to change, but we can all adapt and modify our behaviour depending on the situation - if we choose to. 

Think about all the various situations we get involved in during a week, some social: out with friends, with family, some serious: at work, seeing a customer. We don't behave the same way in every situation, do we? Of course not! Therefore we can all modify our behaviour if we choose. 

I had a friend who recorded ENFP on the Character Analysis, and this was a fair descriptor of her. When she showed up late for a meeting she told me: “well I am an ENFP, you can’t expect me to be on time!” That’s outrageous! She allowed herself to be late, safe in the knowledge that she could hide behind a personality type. But she didn’t have to be late. 

It’s like personality clashes. You get two people who don't get on and everyone says: “it’s a personality clash,” so that OK then, nothing anyone can do. Not at all! What we have are two people who are different, who are unwilling to modify their behaviour. A ‘personality clash’ is a useful box into which we throw situations that we can’t, or are unwilling to, manage. So next time someone says to you: “That’s just how I’m made,” ask them if they behave that way in every situation. You know the answer!

Do our personalities affect the way we shop?

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Published on Fri, 05/16/2014 - 10:06 by Bill McAneny

ShoppingWe all know there are differences in personality types and that this manifests itself in all sorts of ways: from the way we interact, to the types of activities we like and the sorts of work environments that work best for us. So does it work with our buying patterns and is it easier to sell to an ENTP than it is to an ISTJ?

Hmm interesting! There is no doubt that those who are selling believe that different personality types require different approaches. My bank manager told me recently that they had all been on a course, using the DISC profiling system to work out the most effective ways of packaging a sales pitch to specific types. And I have seen some call centre organisations that use a quick assessment process to figure out what personality type they’re dealing with so they can better placate them when they are complaining or upsell to them (presumably once they have been placated!)

Why are first impressions often lasting impressions?

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Published on Thu, 05/01/2014 - 11:46 by Bill McAneny

The layers of an orangeThere’s a (very) old saying: “When we meet someone we form an impression in the first few seconds,” I guess we’ve all heard that and it’s pretty scary. However when we hear the full quote it is even scarier:

When we meet someone we form an impression in the first few seconds, then we spend the rest of the time justifying it.

How scary is that, and how does it work? Well our brains want us to be right and so when we make that initial connections and form an opinion, our brain searches out evidence to prove that we were indeed correct in our assumption.

So for example if I am interviewing someone for a job and they walk into the room and I (totally subconsciously) believe they are aggressive then I will, (again totally subconsciously) phrase my questions in such a way that the other person will give aggressive responses thereby proving I’m right.

"Change is a door that can only be opened from the inside"

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Published on Fri, 04/25/2014 - 15:09 by Bill McAneny

Open DoorQuestion: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “Only one but the light bulb has to want to change.” Sure it’s not that funny, in fact it’s a serious point. We often hold the metaphoric mirror up to people, show them their flaws; but can we change, and why would we want to?

OK first things first: We can’t really change our personalities. Personality is a result of the interaction between genetic conditions (what’s in our biological data) and environmental conditions (what is fed into us during those first crucial 7-8 years and can be represented this way: P=(GxE). So from quite an early age our personalities are roughly set.

But we can modify our behaviour. Behaviour is a result of the interaction between personality and situation and can be represented in this way: B=(PxS). So change the situation we are all capable of modifying our behaviour. When I teach psychology everyone loves these descriptions until they realise the implications: you really can change if you want to. 

But of course we can’t leave it there. I have worked in organisations across the world, confronted some very senior people with some difficult truths and they sometimes say: “why would I want to change?” So there is another dimension, which is the motivation to change.

"I don’t want to be categorised and put in a box"

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Published on Fri, 03/28/2014 - 13:28 by Bill McAneny

Horizon​How many times do you think I have heard this over the years when the notion of psychological assessment is mentioned? Or just as popular: “You can’t classify me I am different.” The problem is that people, like organisations, are like some other people, all other people and no other people. So why assess? It’s a fair question.

Well assessment is not about ‘putting people in a box,’ it’s about identifying some personality traits that help us understand people, help them better understand themselves and so begin the process of development. So if you record as an ISTJ it means you probably will display some ISTJ-like characteristics and that helps when you dig deeper into the whole person. You won’t be like every single other ISTJ. Indeed it’s almost like putting someone in a ‘box’ so that you can then understand them better and so, paradoxically, take them out of the ‘box.’

Life is a people game, and a contact sport

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Published on Fri, 01/10/2014 - 16:48 by Bill McAneny

Water DropIn business, as in life, success often depends about the quality of the interactions we have. Understanding ourselves is a great first step but ultimately it is about understanding ourselves in relation to other people and of course getting to better understand them. Our behaviour has an impact and that impact has a consequence: the impact is how we leave people feeling and the consequence is what occurs as a result of that impact. I once asked an SVP of a large energy company how his people saw him (I had already asked): “A livewire, a bit of a joker who loves the joust, they love me,” he said. Nope. So I told him: “They say you’re a sarcastic, self-indulgent bully who makes a joke of everything.” So we can see our SVP was aware of his behaviour but he viewed it from the standpoint of himself, rather than those on the receiving end. 

Personality and Careers - separating the job and the environment

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Published on Fri, 11/15/2013 - 14:47 by Bill McAneny

Colour PencilsMuch of the literature and many of the sites about Jungian type outline specific job roles for particular types. My (ENTP) list included Computer Programmer, Lawyer, Actor, Engineer and Entrepreneur. The problem I have with this is that I don’t think it is possible to pigeonhole someone into a specific job according to their personalities as this ignores the organisation, the values and the culture, which are far better determinants of suitability than a job title (which in themselves can be ambiguous). Even individual jobs, (say) an accountant, are not universal and differs from industry to industry, organisation to organisation and person to person. So what can we learn about personality and career choice?

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