Personality profile – Why it’s a good idea to know yours

brain A personality profile is usually a source of fascination or fear. Those who view them as the latter often ask only half jokingly “will it tell you if I am an axe murderer?” I do laugh because a standard personality profile is not clinical assessment tool.  As such it is not going to reveal any abnormal tendencies one may have. And axe murdering is quite specific.

A personality profile is generally a pretty harmless thing.  It can be a great source of information about our preferred styles of engaging with the world.

This can be useful for a number of reasons.

Firstly a personality profile can give you some insight into your strengths which can help you choose the most appropriate career and yield the greatest success from it. I have often wondered how much effort I should be putting into developing my weaknesses versus leveraging my strengths. I was always someone who spent a lot more time on the former. My view has changed 180 degrees on that now. Any success I experience today is far more about understanding what I am best at and how I can best apply those skills for the greatest impact. My personality profile has always told me that I am a focused project planner and implementer. This is my signature strength. Success is then about identifying the environment for best application of that strength. Understanding what one is good at, and where that will be most useful, provides us with the most direct route to success.

Understanding your personality profile can help you determine where your strengths will be most useful and it also helps you understand the environments that will bring out the best in you – in work and play. For the introverted personality, it’s often environments that facilitate quiet reflection, serious concentration and consistency of stimulus that is desired. The extravert often craves opportunity for lively interaction, light hearted entertainment and loads of variety. Knowing where you are on the introversion-extraversion continuum gives you a better appreciation of the work and non work environments that can best facilitate your productivity, mental health and happiness. If you are an introvert it can be useful to create opportunities within your working day to be alone and concentrate on a singular task in a quiet space. This may mean booking a meeting room where you can work away from the distractions of the open plan office. At home it may mean spending some time away from your partner/housemates and doing something alone you enjoy such as listening to music or reading a book. Introverts need to create these opportunities to re-charge. Having a greater appreciation for your preferred style across all your personality factors allows you to make sense of what you already suspected about yourself. It provides you with greater clarity about the environments you need to facilitate the best ‘you’ possible.

Understanding your personality style is one thing, it’s another to embrace that style and make the most of it. Introverts are often misunderstood as aloof and anti-social. Those who embrace their introversion aren’t afraid to say no to some social engagements to ensure their need for time out is fulfilled. Extroverts can be misunderstood as constant explorers who don’t take things seriously and are easily distracted. Those who embrace their extraversion aren’t afraid to let their guard down and show their fun loving side. Acting on our understanding of our personality may mean we come up against criticism from others. We can never please everyone. Instead it is important to be true to ourselves and honour the needs of our personality.

Finally, understanding your personality profile also allows you to be kinder to yourself. When one is getting to understand their profile there is a choice to be made. Will I put on a glass half full or half empty lens when interpreting the results? Take the creativity/big picture v organised/detailed continuum on a personality profile. I am more the organised and detailed type. I could be tough on myself and tell myself I should be more creative, or I can be kinder to myself by acknowledging that creativity is not a strength, and a) focus on my strengths at the other end of the continuum and b) look at ways to compensate for the lack of creativity whenever that is required. Each development area has a counterpoint strength. This is a great equaliser. Viewed this way, we could argue that overall we are all just as capable as the next person. If we accept this it means that worrying about our deficiencies is misguided. You may be critical of yourself for being indecisive and passive but the flip side of these traits is that you are probably patient, objective and open to new data. Looking through the glass half full lens enables us to develop strategies to make the most of our strengths and minimise the impact of our deficits. In the world of personality, each of us has plenty to offer.

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