Personality is the sum of the behavioural traits that make a person unique and distinctly recognizable. The term personality has acquired great popularity in the current social discourse. Though very few really understand its true import, personality is that slightly unfathomable trait which we look for in every person we meet- the people we interact with, the colleagues we work with, the friends we make, the teachers who teach us, the prospective employees an employer looks for and the prospective life partner we desire. But the billion dollar question remains as to what personality and how we can go about improving it.
Before delving into it in depth, let’s try to understand: Personality is NOT a well-dressed, charming person, though being so can certainly help. On the other hand, it means the typical manner in which we perceive the world, think about it and act – all these things make us a unique personality unlike others.
Moving Beyond Externals
The concept of personality travels way beyond superficialities. When we call someone a good personality, we are essentially conveying the idea that they are interesting and pleasant people to talk to or work with. And since we all would love to look appealing and pleasing, therefore, to this end, having an impressive personality is vital, much more so than having simply good looks. Of course, we will have to figure out how to develop it further.
Since personality is the sum of one’s qualities, quirks, characteristics, beliefs, attitudes and psychological traits, developing it involves enhancement in all areas of life. Personality is shaped by a clutch of factors – genes, environment, family and societal conditions, which influence and shape personality. Therefore, one needs to work in all these areas to ensure a well-rounded development of one’s personality.
Luckily, ample research suggests that we can change our personality if we really want to i.e. we can become the best version of ourselves – confident, enthusiastic and serene, if we really want to and become a personality that makes us stand out and get what we want from life.
Of course, this process may entail considerable effort, but we can start with these easy and effective techniques to see a perceptible transformation in our personality. For someone serious about bringing about a positive life change, it may turn out to be the most rewarding enterprise ever.
Personality – From infancy to adulthood
Contrary to the common perception, we are born with a distinct personality to some extent- some babies are adjusting, pliable and accommodating while others are tough to handle. Some babies are agreeable to begin with, some others get easily irritated, some are strongly attached to their mothers while others are not. To that extent, it would be wrong to claim that a child is born as “blank slate”. In fact, as we have seen, a lot is already imprinted on that so-called blank slate, which of course, can be re-written to some extent with life experiences and training.
A child’s personality has two major components – temperament and environment. Most psychologists agree on the fact that temperament and environment influence personality development the most. Temperament, which depends on genes, is sometimes called “nature,” while the environmental factors are called “nurture”.
In simple words, temperament implies the genetic traits that shape a child’s approach to the world and how it learns about the world. There are, of course, no such genes that give rise to specific personality traits, but there are some genes that control the development of the nervous system, which in turn, controls the child’s behavior.
The second component is born of the adaptive patterns coming from a child’s environment. Almost all experts agree that good parenting plays a critical role in developing a child’s personality. If the parents understand how their child responds to certain situations, they can anticipate the potential problems the child may face in future and prepare it for the situation or avoid it. Parents who can adapt their parenting style to the child’s temperament can provide guidance to ensure successful personality development of their child.
Watch some Tips For Good Parenting
Based on my experiences as a life coach, here is my To-Do List for a better personality to drive youth empowerment:
Essential Life Skills for Better Personality
Be a better communicator and listener
- I often suggest to the youth coming to me for youth counselling, to develop better communication skills. No other experience can beat having someone listen to you raptly and make you feel like being the only person in the world. Good listening implies the utmost importance and respect for the speaker’s words and it makes you a likable person in a jiffy. Convey your involvement during listening with an occasional hmm of yours and a nod of your head.
- Good communication is one of the most important life skills and the key to good interpersonal relationships. With clear communication, you can navigate through adverse situations and resolve conflicts easily. So, clear your thoughts and communicate what you want to.
- As a case in point, J K Onassis was called very charming thanks to her exceptional listening skills. She would hang on to every word said by the speaker to make them feel important.
- At a personal level, I have made many gains by being a careful listener. Of course, it is a pre-requisite in my life coaching work to bring the other person out fully, but it remains equally important for all in life.
- Address your listeners by their names as one’s name remains the sweetest sound to them. They will just love it! So, address them by their name. I do so frequently during my seminars to build a personal rapport and make them comfortable and connected. Calling someone by their name conveys that you don’t consider the other one a faceless entity; rather, they are thriving entities whom you recognize and respect.
Celebrate your uniqueness
- In my youth counselling work, the biggest myth I have found is that people mostly wish they were someone else. To become an effective personality, you need to feel confident by avoiding comparisons with others as such comparisons blocks our own strengths as the other one assumes more strength in our mind. But you’re unique and incomparable and this trait of yours must be celebrated.
- You were required on this planet and that’s why you were sent down. In the universe, there has been none like you before and for an infinite time, there won’t be anyone else like you. Nature loved you so much that it broke the mould after making you, so none else like you will be born again. In that manner, you are an original, a rare piece, a wonder and a masterpiece. Celebrate it!
Get out of comfort zone
Experts in youth counselling services often advise those coming for counseling to challenge their comfort zones. It is one of the most important life skills as the moment you get out of your personal comfort zone, you will realize many new personal qualities you never knew about.
I can recall, while I was seeing off my 13-year old daughter, who was going abroad for a Draughts championship contest, many eyebrows were raised over my decision to send her all alone. But I knew well she needed to learn to be on her own in this big, bad world and parental presence couldn’t be taken for granted, always. Of course, I had made all the necessary arrangements in case something didn’t happen as per plan. The successful solo visit not only gave her immense self-confidence, but also taught her valuable life and social skills in terms of handling unforeseen problems and different people.
So, if you take comfort in never swimming, plunge into water (of course, with a lifeguard by your side), if you are doing 20 pages of writing daily, try to improve it. Leaving your comfort zone can help you hone problem-solving skills. The results can surprise you! Try it out!
As a life coach, I strongly believe that reading and cultivating new interests make you a more interesting person. It gives you knowledge which you can share with others and exchange your ideas. It makes you a good conversationalist as the quality of your conversation is a function of your reading and knowledge.
Personally, I believe that for them to really make a productive contribution, today’s youth need to be made aware of what ails the world- its society, technology, economy, health and culture. Therefore, I used to encourage both my daughters to read general books and magazines to expand their horizons so that their minds don’t remain confined to their own fields. And the results are obvious – my younger daughter, though a trained doctor, is quite passionate about developmental issue and has authored a book on UN Sustainable Development Goals.
- No one is a know-all. It’s refreshing to learn from others what we don’t know about.
- You need to develop effective presentation skills like speaking and creativity to put your message across effectively. There are plentiful online resources to help you with cultivating listening, networking and persuasion skills.
Imperfections make you perfect
Experts in youth counselling services often advocate accepting oneself as one is. None in this world is perfect as everyone has some flaws. When faced with criticism, accept it if it’s positive and let it go if it’s not. Look at your flaws objectively and work on them to eliminate one at a time.
- Some people are rather tall, others puny, some obese, others lanky. Now if we tend to compare ourselves with the popular media standards of physical appeal, our imperfections agitate and trouble us. But remember, relaxed or chilled out people live happier and healthier lives and charm people with their relaxed vibes.
- To feel cooler about yourself, give space to imperfections as people, situations and your personality don’t have to be the way you want.
Being optimistic, grateful
Being positive holds the key to a healthy, peaceful life. Driving out negativity certainly improves your mental stability as positive thoughts reduce depression and anxiety substantially.
Practice gratitude and thankfulness for all the things you take for granted. I have always raised my daughters telling them to practice economy and savings wherever they are in life, besides being thankful for what they have. It has made them humble and polite beings in life.
So you may not have Adidas shoes, but look at others having no feet and to feel grateful for the incredible feet you have.
For me, as a life coach, achieving self-confidence is the first step towards personality enhancement. Confidence creates motivation and makes us aware of our inner capacities. Self- confidence triggers chemical changes in the brain to lead us to a point where we actually start believing it. So, have confidence and tell yourself you can handle anything successfully and you, really, will.
Of all the life skills needed for success, this one holds the prime importance. Once we lose hope, we feel like quitting. But quitting is the worst thing you can do while cultivating self-confidence or improving the quality of life. Remember, we deserve a second chance and achieve our dream that keep us up at night. And if you feel like quitting, just think of why you began in the first place.
Being merciful and kind (to yourself!)
Any life coach will tell you that self-compassion brings out optimism, extroversion, wisdom, happiness, positivity and resilience. Self-compassion means:
- Knowing that you deserve care and to make it happen, you must have kindness and understanding towards yourself.
- Admitting that mistakes and failures are part of life. Don’t be hard on yourself when you make a mistake or fail at a task. Avoid self-criticism.
- Getting aware of your emotions and feelings. Of course, self-compassion doesn’t mean no accountability or just recklessness; rather, it is taking remedial action without becoming excessively self-critical.
- Reading gives you knowledge, which leads to opinions. Nothing is more boring than talking to someone with no opinion on anything.
- A conversation can’t go anywhere if one has nothing to say.
- An uncommon or out-of-the-box opinion makes you more stimulating.
- If you are not comfortable expressing your opinion and disagree on something, do it calmly and maturely. You will be surprised at what comes out of you.
Seeds of hidden qualities
Having jealousy or insecurity about the qualities we like among our peers doesn’t bring us those qualities. Much better to applaud the qualities you like in others and recognize the fact that their seeds are lying within you. So cultivate them with attention and practice. If you can foster such an attitude, it would be a growth mindset, the attitude made for success.
Interact with new people, especially those unlike you. I always encouraged my daughters to befriend people, even those whom they didn’t really admire. Interacting with variety of people gives you a holistic idea of society and also a feeling that acceptance and inclusivity are important skills to learn.
You’ll get exposed to varying cultures, different ways of thinking and expand your horizons, besides making you more accommodative and tolerant.
You will often find a life coach asking you to travel light. Being light in mind is reflected in your behavior i.e. people also feel light in your company. So, avoid over-thinking and don’t let shame, anger, jealousy or greed stay with you for long. Take it easy, forgive quickly and let go of grudges as they pop up.
Once you’ve done a task, let go of your attachment with the results to feel free, calm, relaxed and happy from within. And who does not like such people?
If you feel good inside, it gets reflected on the outside also. An ideal way to save yourself from the negativity is not to resist it but to observe it dissolve itself. Meditation is one way of achieving it.
- No one wants to be with a complaint box or those having nothing good to say.
- Try to be upbeat. Such people light up a room with personal energy and positivity.
- Your warm smile, cheer, and vibrant persona can create wonders.
The more you interact with different kinds of people, the more confident and comfortable you will become. It will expose to a vast range of divergent ideas on different issues and help you develop a holistic and balanced perspective on so many things. As a result, your communication skills improve, and your personality dazzles.
Why be so serious?
- There are people who find humour even in tragic situations, like in the movie Pipli Live. Everyone enjoys the company of those who make us smile. Try to find the humorous, quirky side to every situation, however bad it may be. Comic relief can be a much welcome and needed diversion.
- Adding fun to a dull setting naturally attracts others to you.
- As a life coach, I have discovered that enthusiastic people are more likely to inspire success. We all love to meet people with whom we can easily mingle. None would prefer meeting someone with a straight face. So try to become warm and enthusiastic. Smile more often, be friendly and be ready to share and help others. A is the best ornament you can wear. So put on a smile when you look into the mirror, on a good day, and on a bad one, too!
- We all love enthusiastic people. Enthusiasm makes everyday tasks more enjoyable and pulls others towards you. Practicing meditation can help you feel enthusiastic, calm and composed.
Being strong from inside
- Don’t give into external pressures and try to face challenges confidently. You will overcome adversity or learn something precious – a win-win situation, either way!
- Remaining calm strengthens our personality. However, being calm may be tough when you are suffering from a splitting headache and have an urgent deadline. In such cases, try to tap the power of breathing. An awareness of your breathing can help you feel calm in the middle of any situation.
- No one would like to be around complaint boxes or those with nothing good to say.
- Try to be an upbeat person who lights up a room with personal energy upon entering it.
- Look for the best in people and things. Give a warm smile, spread cheer, and enliven others with your presence.
- Stress may affect us often on the outside but our inner core always radiates positivity like a proton by being unaffected, happy and peaceful. Tune into it with the help of meditation to energize yourself and bring out enthusiasm.
19. Integrity and respect
- Be honest and true to what you say to earn admiration and respect.
- Nothing else can make you more impressive than integrity and respect. Show respect for others and yourself, too.
Helping out others
- Becoming helpful endears you to all quickly.
- We all love cheerleaders, who encourage us when we’re down.
Thinking like a leader
Leaders aren’t always by the positions they hold; they are people who assume responsibilities without waiting to be told. Just thinking like one can nurture the leadership traits in you. Take new responsibilities and live up to them to bring change and influence on others.
Regular meditation can help you let go and feel relaxed quite easily. Daily meditation also gives us more focus and calmness, apart from yielding other health benefits.
Everyone has some or the other bodily flaw and may feel inadequate due to them occasionally. But dressing a comfortable and confident-arousing dress can help you tide over tough situations.
Giving yourself time
Several things like the ability to let go, feeling light and enthusiasm can’t be cultivated overnight. You need time, effort and an inner change to transform yourself. With breathing awareness and meditation, you can bring out this inner change by removing deep-rooted stress, which makes a person calmer, stronger, and happier.