Earlier this year, I explained how ‘charming’ tends to be a precursor to code red problems. Mistaking charm for being indicative of other characteristics and values is an example of where we fall into the trap of mistaking personality for character, which is not one and the same thing.
Personality is about persona; it’s about the qualities and characteristics that we want to put across. These may not always be the same as those which represent our true and consistent character. It’s about ‘outside’ and ‘indoor’ behaviour or should I say, the public versus private persona.
A person can have a ‘winning’ personality because they know how to get on and put their best self across.
It’s like those people who are amazing interviewees that get almost every job they go for but who struggle to actually do the job and deliver on what they said that they could be and do. You’re scratching your head wondering where the hell that person who you met in those interviews has disappeared to.
Lots of us know how to act socially, especially when we don’t have to be around these people all of the time. As relationships progress though, we do have to interact in a variety of situations that give us a true sense of who a person is. Once we’re spending a great deal of time around them (such as in a romantic relationship) and they unfold into their true selves, that’s where you see their character, the mental and moral qualities that distinguish a person.
You don’t need mental and moral qualities to be ‘funny’.
Just ask some of the dodgier comedians out there.
You also don’t need mental and moral qualities to be charming and popular. Just ask some of the famous people of this world whose reputations are in stark contrast to what they get up to behind closed doors. It’s also safe to say that a person could be incredibly intelligent but lack morals. A highly common mistake that many humans make is assuming that intelligence is synonymous with morals.
We might be very intelligent and a number of other things and have strong moral fibre. This doesn’t mean, though, that if we met somebody who worked in the same field as us and was super intelligent, that they would share our core values.
We tend to more impressed by personality than we are with character.
This is due to the associations we have with the particular qualities and characteristics that we admire. If those associations and any assumptions that we’ve made off of the back of them lead us into a blind spot though, it’s important to evaluate these beliefs. We need to get conscious about where we’re jumping to a conclusion that’s setting us up for pain.
Some people are consistent with their personality and character so you don’t experience a rapid departure from either one whether you’re around others or one-on-one. They’re also like this when no one is around. They feel congruent to you and if anything, their personality is enhanced by what you’ve come to learn through experience about their character. It’s a lot easier to copilot a relationship with someone who is like this because you know where you stand. You know who you’re going to get from one day to the next.
Some people chop and change what they’re putting across to suit their audience. When that divergence between personality and character leaves you with a What The… headspin, it’s incredibly disconcerting, especially when there may be a harem of people out there who, based on the persona this person puts across and the reputation they’ve cultivated (or had assumed by others), these people may be swearing up and down about their “character” even though you have first hand experience of something entirely different. You cannot know where you stand with this person because they’re inconsistent. It’s important to note that your experience of them is what you need to use determine whether or not to proceed – no one else has to take your journey and live your life!
Some people pretend that they have a matchy personality and character. In much the same way that hair dye grows out and the roots start to show, people unfold and a person who is playacting at being of a certain character does gradually show signs of it if we’re listening and watching.
Over the years of writing BR, I’ve heard from so many people who are genuinely perplexed as to how somebody can be helping out at the old folks home, doing charity this and charity that, popular in various circles and yet not so kind and generous to them. They wonder what’s “wrong” with them to invite such a different flavour of behaviour but what we forget when we start blaming ourselves for what may be someone’s mistreatment or the fact that their actions and words don’t match, is that if a person’s character is what we say and assume it to be, that’s not just a public or specific person thing; it’s their identity because it matters to their values.
Character is what you get with actions, and security comes in knowing that actions and words are matching.
Character is what you get with actions, and security comes in knowing that actions and words are matching. If you don’t know where you stand with a person, that’s a big damn clue right there that you’ve been mixing up personality with character. If what you’re met with is promises and intentions that don’t stack up, you’ve been enjoying their persona but other aspects of their character and habits have been interfering with the delivery of those said things.
Sometimes we get too carried away with personality. Fun and funny for example, are wonderful qualities to enjoy in a person but they’re not an automatic precursor to desirable characteristics and values. It’s not as if only relationship worthy people can make us laugh for instance (the same can also be said about ‘attractive’ and ‘intelligent’ people) and this is where the difference not only between personality and character shows itself but also how core values distinguish themselves from secondary ones (appearance, common interests etc).
It’s not as if only relationship worthy people can make us laugh…
Reputation is a widespread belief that someone or something has a particular characteristic and it’s important to note that there are people who spend a fortune on reputation management. Some of us are engaging in reputation management even when it’s only one or a a few people, and that can cause us to wear a mask because we worry a great deal about what other people think and also about whether who we are and what we do is “right”. It gets in the way of us being authentic.
In understanding whether you’re compatible with somebody, get past the pomp and fanfare. Character really expresses itself through vulnerability because not only do our intimate relationships require intimacy for depth but dealing with life’s inevitables such as conflict, criticism, disappointment and loss, require us to dig into our character in order to respond. You get a really good sense of who a person is when you tell (or show) them no or when things don’t go their way. That’s character! Pay attention and keep your feet in reality. Don’t get swept up in the hype whether it’s coming from them, others or you, because you cannot make what may be a big life decision (deciding who to spend what may be the rest of your life with) based on what may be packaging without the contents to back it up.
When it comes to personality, there’s nothing wrong with being attracted to particular qualities but don’t assume that those things you admire are an automatic precursor to other values and that they’re telling you all that you need to know about their character.