Have you ever met a person who rubbed you the wrong way, but you couldn't figure out why? Have you ever had a boss or coworker you didn't know how to deal with? Did you ever wonder how two siblings raised by the same parents could be so different (like my own boys)?
It's all in the personality.
Understanding your personality style can be valuable for determining career choices and understanding why you act the way you do. Recognizing others' personality styles can help you get along better with the people you deal with every day.
But as a writer, you can use an understanding of personality styles to craft complex characters who act in a consistent and believable way. Besides knowing your character's goals and motivation, choosing a personality style for her will help you create a believable reaction when she meets an obstacle.
Using The Platinum Rule™ Behavioral Styles developed by Dr. Tony Alessandra, here are four potential responses for your character when she's faced with an obstacle:
- The Thinker might gather information, make a list of pros and cons, and plan a response, finally acting when she has as much information as possible. Her response will probably be timely, but not immediate.
- The Socializer would probably make a decision based on impulse. Leap then look.
- The Relater would worry about the problem, try to avoid it, ask for other's opinions, and hope that someone else would take care of it. Head in the sand.
- The Director would quickly size up the options, make a decision, and execute it, even if others think it's the wrong choice.
It should be clear that the type of character you choose can have a great effect on your story. Each of the four options above could take the same story in a different direction.
If you'd like to find out more, here are some of the popular personality assessments you might want to check out. Take a quiz as yourself, and then take a quiz as your character. You might be surprised what you learn.
- The Platinum Rule™ Behavioral Styles quiz on Brian Tracy's website
- The Shapes Personality Test created by Dr. Susan E. Dellinger – includes a 5th style, for people in transition
- The Jung Typology Test based on the work by Dr. Carl Jung (a.k.a. the Myers Briggs test)
The Daily Squirrel: acrobat
In her dreams, she was an acrobat, flying high above the circus floor while the audience looked on with awe. The gasps of the crowd filled her ears, the wind ruffled her hair and cooled her face as she flew from swing to swing. She could smell the popcorn and cotton candy mingled with the scent of hay and animals. With a sudden bang on her bedroom door, the dream vanished, slipping through her fingers like sand. She stared at the loose drywall tape on the ceiling of her ordinary bedroom, in an ordinary house, where her boring, ordinary life took place.