Sharing, musing, reflecting...

The 2 biggest problems with having a personality

We all have personality traits, habits, styles, preferences. And there’s an abundance of training and books that can show you how to get on with different ‘personality types’.

Now I admit that I have used ‘typology’ with individuals and teams in the past. And whilst it can be helpful in the short term, the more I learn about human potential, the less useful it has become.  I’ve come to realise that whilst it’s crucial to be able to connect with another person and be flexible in your own style or approach, there are some major disadvantages to categorising people (including yourself of course).

With any kind of diagnostic, people get assigned a label. For example, he’s a ‘feeling type person’. Or he’s an ‘expressive creative’.

BUT  we are not born an ‘expressive, creative’ person. We’re not born an ‘analytical driver’. We are born a blank canvas of pure unlimited potential to create ourselves anew moment to moment, thought by thought.

The problem is that we learn who to be from an early age. We get told who we are. We take on other people’s beliefs. We develop preferences. We learn certain values (from parental figures etc).  And while some of these may be helpful to some degree, because they are learned over time, they are never fixed which means WE are never fixed.

Sometimes I feel warm and fluffy towards others. I have warm fluffy thoughts. Other moments, I get very task focused and in my tunnel visioned mind, I can momentarily forget about how others might be feeling. Some days I get caught up in the detail and forget the bigger picture. Other days, it’s the opposite. And it’s all driven by thought.

The 2 biggest problems with categorising other people (or ourselves) by personality type is the following;

1) People often associate with the label they’ve been given. This means they can innocently become constrained by the label by living up to it. “Oh I don’t do detail. I’m a big picture person” or “I could never paint, I’m not creative”.

Because of this innocent mistake, we might ignore or be excluded from opportunities or do the same to others. We can get type-cast like Maggie Thatcher, who was much more than just an ‘iron lady’.

2) Typology pre-supposes we are born a certain way and that’s ‘how we are’ and ‘who we are’. But we are not our typology. We are not our labels!

The truth is that human beings have the capacity for new thought in every moment. And each new thought brings fresh insight and different behaviour.

You are not an extravert or an introvert. You are a person who has the potential to think in a more expressive way or a more internalised way.
The moment we put a label and description on ourselves or on others, we limit the possibility of who we are and who we can be. That possibility is in fact, unlimited potential unfolding with every new thought.

Chantal Burns ScreenshotChantal Burns

Executive Coach, Speaker and Bestselling Author of

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This entry was posted in Influence, Leadership, Self awareness, State of Mind, Thinking. Bookmark the permalink. Both comments and trackbacks are currently closed.
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