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What is personality?

Updated: Nov 26, 2021

We all have one. So how would you describe it. According to the Webster dictionary, "personality" is a complex set of characteristics and distinctive traits that distinguish an individual or a nation or group especially : the totality of an individual's behavioural and emotional characteristics.



People are social creatures, live in groups and have a hierarchy with a well-defined structure of power and leadership. And people need a system of meaning, such as religion, philosophy, or science, to help them make sense of the world.


As a consequence of these three things, people will always have three main motives / goals:


• getting along with others (i.e., co-operation)

• getting ahead of others (i.e., competition)

• and finding meaning.


Personality determines how people work toward those goals and the extent to which they achieve them.


There are three components of personality that shape all human interactions:

  • Identity - the story we tell ourselves about ourselves—it’s the person you think you are. While there might be some takeaways in how we perceive ourselves, we are usually wrong. We often have an inflated idea of our own talent, or we might be unnecessarily hard on ourselves

  • Reputation - on the other hand, is what everyone else thinks of us, and it’s based on our overt behaviours and social skills. Your reputation is the person other people think you are

  • Social skill – the person’s need for social interaction and the extent to which they are comfortable and competent around others

A person’s success in the workplace is dependent on their reputation, and this is the part of personality that the best personality tests are based on.