A recent study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that only 13 percent of people are completely satisfied with their personality types. That number seems pretty low, but many of us likely have at least one element of our personalities that we wish we could change — becoming more outgoing and extroverted, or being a better listener, or not feeling like so much of a perfectionist all the time. But once you learn your type through an assessment, can you change your personality type if you’re not happy with the results?
The jury is still out on this question of whether or not you can change your personality type, but let’s take a look at what you likely can control and what you probably can’t.
Change Your Personality Type? The Bad News
Your personality type, if it’s determined correctly, is probably yours for life. Particularly in adults, who have settled into their personal preferences and uniquely firing synapses, it’s difficult, if not impossible, to change the most fundamental parts of who you are. If you’re an introvert and you find large crowds of people draining, you probably can’t suddenly decide to find them energizing instead.
While you may feel discouraged by not being the personality type you wish you were, take heart. You are more than just a label, and each personality type has its own strengths and challenges. Every personality “weakness” likely has a coordinating strength. Being dominant also goes hand-in-hand with confidence and big goals. Indecisiveness corresponds with being careful and deliberate. There really are no “bad” personalities on paper, just bad behaviors.
Change Your Personality Type? The Good News
Fortunately, personality doesn’t dictate your decisions or your behaviors. Or at least it doesn’t have to. The same psychology study found that people who forced themselves to engage in more extroverted behaviors ended up describing themselves in more “extroverted” ways. If in your DISC assessment you’re an S personality (motivated by cooperation and teamwork), you’re not likely to change to a D type (motivated by competition). But with a lot of effort, you might be able to alter how pronounced the Steadiness trait appears relevant to others.
And it’s helpful to know where your strengths and weaknesses lie so that you can use them better. Knowing that you’re an “ideas” person but that you might be challenged by dropping the ball in the details will give you some practical goals to work on: setting benchmarks for completion of small tasks, for example.
Many of our programs focus on using each team member’s personality type so that they can understand themselves, understand how to communicate more effectively with each other, and how to shape their responses to increase personal effectiveness. A personality type isn’t the end of the assessment, but the beginning of a journey of self-discovery and self-improvement.
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