Our personality is often much more flexible than we think, especially depending on the circumstances.
We often change our speech, body posture, facial expressions, and behaviors depending on the context of a situation and the people we are interacting with.
In this way, one could say we put on different “selves” or “personas” depending on who it is we are interacting with and where we are.
How you interact with a friend from college is going to be very different than how you interact with your boss. And how you interact in a classroom is going to be very different than how you interact at a party or bar.
In Me, Myself, and Us: The Science of Personality and the Art of Well-Being, it describes how our personalities are influenced by 3 main factors: biogenic (genes and biology), sociogenic (environment and culture), and ideogenic (personal constructs and goals).
According to renowned psychologist and professor Brian R. Little, the ideogenic factors are what create the “degrees of freedom” we have over our personalities.
A mother may be very introverted (biological) and have been raised in a quiet household (social), but when she throws a party for her daughter she becomes active and out-going for her guests, because being a “good mother” is a personal goal that means a lot to her (ideogenic).
We all “act out of character” every now and then. And sometimes it’s necessary for being a happier, healthier, and more dynamic human being.
When it comes to communication, we like to think if only we follow the right script and say the right words then things will always work out the way we want.
Asking a girl out on a date? I need that perfect opening line. Trying to get a new job? I need to give the perfect answers in my interview. Want to persuade someone? I need to have the perfect argument in my head.
But life rarely follows a script. Instead, it’s a whole lot of improvisation.
We can never know exactly how a situation will unfold. So we need to be able to respond to information from our environment in real-time, and adapt to each situation as we go along.
There are no perfect answers. There are no perfect words. There are no perfect scripts that will give you the same exact results every time.
According to Yes, And: How Improvisation Reverses “No, But” Thinking, improvisation is a skill anyone can apply more to their personal and professional relationships.
The book explores the teachings and philosophy behind The Second City, one of the first major comedy-improv groups in the United States and Canada.
First started in 1959, it has since given birth to many comedic legends over the years including Bill Murray, John Belushi, Mike Myers, Chris Farley, Steve Carrel, Stephen Colbert, Tina Fey, and Amy Poehler.
Do you ever think you’re just not the “creative type?” Well, it’s not true. Creativity isn’t just for artists, musicians, or filmmakers anymore – it’s for everyone.
Regardless of our lifestyle, we’re all faced with tough decisions and new problems to solve. Creativity is simply being able to think of these problems from different perspectives and discover solutions that haven’t been thought of yet.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re trying to code a new piece of software, or make a hospital more patient friendly, or improve a company’s culture – creativity plays a crucial role in finding new and better answers.
This idea that “we all have creativity” is a theme embedded throughout Creative Confidence: Unleashing the Creative Potential Within Us All.
It’s a very practical and insightful book by two brothers, David Kelley and Tom Kelley, who draw extensively on their work at the innovative consulting firm IDEO and Stanford’s Institute of Design (also known as the “d.school”).
The Kelley brothers do a great job describing not only how creativity can be applied to any area of life, but also how anyone can build “creative confidence” – the belief that we can create something new that adds value to the world.
Here are the main principles behind building creative confidence no matter what walk-of-life you are from.
Never before in our history has it been easier to treat people like crap then get away with it.
This is because we’ve evolved in very small groups and tribes, typically no more than 150 people. Everyone knew each other. Everyone held each other accountable.
If you disrespected the group or treated people unfairly, you would be quickly ostracized from your tribe and sent to live on your own (which was typically a death sentence).
According to Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, this is why our social reputation is so important to us – and why we have a natural craving to be liked and respected by others.
Of course we still need these social ties to survive and flourish. But in today’s world, we interact with many more people, especially strangers, because it’s so much easier to communicate and travel.
This makes it easy to treat people like crap, because many people we cross paths with we probably won’t ever see again. And in short, this influences a lot of people to lose their good manners and respectability.
When you’re in a heated argument, it’s easy to lose control of yourself quickly.
We often say something we don’t really mean. We do something we immediately regret. And we damage trust and respect in a way that’s hard to gain back.
These are the potential costs of the arguments we get into. The more heated, the worse they are, the more difficult it is to build a positive connection with that person in the future.
How can we avoid letting our conversations reach such an ugly point? What are ways we can defuse heated arguments before they spiral out of control?
The classic book Crucial Conversations is a great guide on how we can face these arguments better – whether they are at home, work, school, or wherever.
When we’re in a heated argument, we feel as if we are being personally attacked. This gets our blood flowing and engages our “fight or flight” response.
That adrenaline rush makes us act more impulsively and recklessly. At that point we stop thinking of ways to have a healthy conversation – we just want to attack back or run away!