What is personality?

October 25, 2023
2m 45s

I've been thinking about the topic of "personality" quite a bit lately, so I decided to write about it.

I'm going to approach writing about this differently than I normally would. Normally I don't spend a lot of time reading and listening to what it is I am writing -- I typically just write what I want to share, not really caring how it comes across.

Today I want to try performing. I don't mean lying--I mean performing. I want to care how what I write comes across, and I want it to come across well. I don't expect any standing ovations at the end of this, but perhaps this post will be slightly more enjoyable to read than some of my past ones.

What is personality?

I watched an old video recently from the 1950s, and the framing on the topic of personality is something I've never heard or read before. Whether or not what I am about to say is the technical definition of personality, it is clear that this is how people use the word personality when they say things like, "boy, he's got a lot of personality!"

  1. Your personality can be defined, in part, by how you treat others.

When you hang around other people, and they enjoy themselves, they will speak well of your "personality". If you flatter them (but not too much), if you make them laugh, if you are useful, or smart, or interesting, you will be described as having a great personality.

Is it your great personality that they like? Or is the fact that they like you precisely why they say you have a great personality?

Improve how you make others feel to improve your personality.

  1. Your personality can be defined, in part, by how you respond to others' treatment of you.

When you interact with others, do their criticisms make you mad? Do you mistake their observations for criticisms? Are you the jealous type? Are you quick to anger?

Some of the greatest personalities I know wouldn't let even a blunt criticism aimed to hurt them, hurt them. They choose to respond differently. Instead of blowing up or shutting down, they might smile and brush it off like a friendly joke. They may even try to see what the other person wants and focus on that instead of how the hurt hurt they're supposed to be feeling from their words.

Improve how you receive others--even when they are being mean, or nitpicky, or incompetent--to improve your personality.

  1. Your personality can be defined, in part, by how you respond to circumstances.

When there's traffic and you're late for work, or there's a blizzard that keeps you from that shopping trip you were looking forward to, or your babysitter cancels on you because she's sick, how do you respond?

Do circumstances outside of your control (and perhaps even others' control) ruin your day?

People notice these sorts of things. Miserable people eat it up because, as the old saying goes, "misery loves company"--but what about the average person who doesn't want to be miserable?

Do they feel miserable around you? You may be answering "some do and some don't". That's true in my life. What I'm realizing, though, is how much that says about both me and them. My friends who are joyful no matter what I or life throws at them, they have a great handle on #2 and #3. For my friends who are miserable around me, they may be struggling with #2 (how we respond to others), but I admittedly am probably struggling more with #1 (how we treat others).

I'm interested in experimenting with these concepts and improving my personality -- or at least, improving what people call personality.

I intend to be a bit more intentional with how I'm engaging with others, how I respond to others (no matter their behavior), and how I respond to circumstances outside of my control.

I'm not interested in lying, manipulating or kowtowing to anyone, but I am interested in being deliberate with my actions and calm and joyful no matter what echoes back at me.

Hold me to it.

All posts
John McGlone

Hi, I'm John McGlone, a Christian American husband, father, and software engineer. I believe that God's plan to make disciples of all nations will be successful.

Follow me on X, GitHub, and LinkedIn

John McGlone © 2023. All rights reserved.