This post comes to us courtesy of ProBlogger psychology expert Ellen Jackson
Are you a scheduler? Or do you publish as you write?
Do you delegate? Or is your need for the nitty-gritty too great?
I’d love to be the writer with the annual content calendar, or the leader who entrusts my big ideas to others. I’ve filled a thousand spreadsheets with good intentions, only to find them languishing and incomplete months later. I’ve dabbled with VAs, and had my control freak tendencies laid bare.
It took a while, but I’ve learned that I’m wired to work the way I work best. Other people’s systems and successes may seem appealing, but unless they fit in with my modus operandi I’m trying to fit square pegs in round holes.
Personality is what makes you, you.
In psychology, your personality is defined as ‘the combination of characteristics or qualities that form an individual’s distinctive character’. It describes who you are, and what makes you, you.
It also shapes the way you work.
Think of your personality as your unique operating system. It’s the software that manages your thoughts and behaviour. It directs your energy and attention, and defines which systems, processes, people and environments are most compatible with you.
When your operating system fits your work and work environment, tasks are seamless. Sit me in a café with a notebook and pen and ask me to generate fifty ideas, and I’m a machine. Sit me at a desk with a spreadsheet and ask me to fill in the boxes and you’ll be tearing your hair out at my slowness and ineptitude.
How well your personality matches your tasks, team and goals is often the missing link between overwhelming frustration and intense productivity. When we have insight into our unique operating system, we can create the interface we need with our world to make work easy and fun instead of being filled with stress, bugs and crashes.
Understanding your personality
While there are many ways to describe personality, today’s experts believe there are five broad, basic dimensions known as the ‘Big 5’ personality traits. Unlike models such as Myers-Briggs or DISC that assign people to ‘types’, the Big 5 depicts personality as five spectra:
- Openness to experience
We all exist as a dot somewhere between the two extremes of each dimension. And those billions of dots represent billions of wonderfully unique, complex people.
You can get an insight into your personality through online questionnaires such as the Truity Big Five personality assessment. They’re quick, reliable, and give you a detailed report that includes your score and description for each dimension.
You can also uncover your personality type with a little introspection and a guide like the one I’ll share with you now.
Which of the following best describe you?
Openness to experience
High: People at the ‘high’ end of openness like venturing outside their comfort zone. If this is you then you love novel experiences, variety, and coming up with new ideas. You might be described by others as imaginative, insightful, curious, creative, or even intellectual.
You love the creative side of blogging and business, but the routine and repetition of everyday tasks bores you to tears. Scheduling is tedious, and you don’t have the patience for spreadsheets. You are an ideas person who struggles with following through.
Low: If you’re at the ‘Low’ end of the openness dimension you enjoy routine. You stick to what you know, and you do it well. You’re practical, down to earth, and happy doing the same task time and time again. That’s how you get so good at it.
High: Highly conscientious people are persistent, self-disciplined, reliable and persevering.
If this is you then you’re organised, you work within the rules, and you excel at delaying gratification.
Getting the job done is never a problem for you, but you may turn yourself inside out getting it done. (Stress head alert!)
Low: Are you a major procrastinator? A little bit flighty? Impetuous and impulsive? If you are, then you may be sitting at the other end of the conscientiousness scale. You’re fun and spontaneous, but find it hard to actually get the job done. (That whooshing sound was probably another deadline flying by.)
Chances are you’ll recognise this spectrum – extroversion at one end, introversion at the other.
High: If you’re high on extroversion you’re sociable, assertive, outgoing, talkative and socially confident. You’re the team player who wants to collaborate with everyone. You love your colleagues to bits, but you will never be left alone.
Low: At the low end of the extroversion scale you’ll find the introverts, although most of us sit somewhere in between. True introverts are quiet, introspective, reserved and thoughtful. They are people of few words but many thoughts. They’re writers, not networkers, and group work sends shivers down their spine.
How are your people skills?
High: People high in agreeableness are trusting, patient, tactful, kind and considerate. If this is you then you’re well-liked, respected, and sensitive to other people’s needs.
You might blog to help and spread happiness. No cynics or ranters here.
Low: Not everyone likes to be liked. If you’re low on the agreeableness scale you’re happy on the edge of social acceptance. You can be rude, antagonistic, and maybe sarcastic. You’ll make enemies as well as friends, but you won’t care. You’re much better at saying “No” than your highly agreeable mates, and no-one will ever take advantage of you.
If you Google it, you’ll see it defined as ‘mentally maladjusted’ – pretty harsh.
High: Those high on the neuroticism scale tend to be over-sensitive, nervous, anxious, self-critical and insecure. They’re also easily angered and temperamental. If this is you, then you might find yourself embroiled in regular battles – online and offline.
But there’s an interesting twist. Parts of your personality can interact with varying results. And if you’re high on neuroticism and conscientiousness, you may end up channeling your anxious energy for good. Healthy neurotics take action to address their worries rather that ponder and plot. If this is you, then you may actually have better health habits and greater motivation to succeed in all areas of life than your less conscientious counterparts.
Low: Finally we have our emotionally-stable peeps. They’re adventurous and unflappable. Unencumbered by worry or self-doubt, it’s hard to rattle them. They’ll try anything once, and no problem is too big. If this is you, then you’re optimistic, self-confident, reliably even-tempered, and will cope with any crisis that’s thrown.
3 Tips on Using Your Personality to Blog Better
Do you know where you sit on each of the Big Five dimensions? If you do, try these tips to work and blog better.
- Take note of the characteristics that make you great at what you do. These are your strengths, and you should use them as often as you can.
- Make a note of the characteristics making work difficult right now. Are you a creative type struggling to narrow yourself into a niche? Or perhaps you’re an extrovert weary from working alone. What can you change about the way you work to find a better match between who you are and how you work?
- Stop fighting your operating system. You work the way you work because that’s the way you’re wired. It’s who you are. Fighting your natural preferences is energy-sapping, and robs the world of your unique and fascinating contribution. Don’t let that happen. Go forth and be the crazy, exceptional individual you are. It will make your work (and your life) a lot easier.
Are you in tune with your personality? Have you figured out how you work best?