Behaviour

“I can’t change how I am!”

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Mon, 03/07/2016 - 11:33 by Bill McAneny

StoneHow often have you heard someone say: ‘I’m too set in my ways,’ or ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,’ as a way of avoiding having to change? Sure personality tends not to change, but we can all adapt and modify our behaviour depending on the situation - if we choose to. 

Think about all the various situations we get involved in during a week, some social: out with friends, with family, some serious: at work, seeing a customer. We don't behave the same way in every situation, do we? Of course not! Therefore we can all modify our behaviour if we choose. 

I had a friend who recorded ENFP on the Character Analysis, and this was a fair descriptor of her. When she showed up late for a meeting she told me: “well I am an ENFP, you can’t expect me to be on time!” That’s outrageous! She allowed herself to be late, safe in the knowledge that she could hide behind a personality type. But she didn’t have to be late. 

It’s like personality clashes. You get two people who don't get on and everyone says: “it’s a personality clash,” so that OK then, nothing anyone can do. Not at all! What we have are two people who are different, who are unwilling to modify their behaviour. A ‘personality clash’ is a useful box into which we throw situations that we can’t, or are unwilling to, manage. So next time someone says to you: “That’s just how I’m made,” ask them if they behave that way in every situation. You know the answer!

"Change is a door that can only be opened from the inside"

Bill McAneny's picture
Published on Fri, 04/25/2014 - 15:09 by Bill McAneny

Open DoorQuestion: “How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?” Answer: “Only one but the light bulb has to want to change.” Sure it’s not that funny, in fact it’s a serious point. We often hold the metaphoric mirror up to people, show them their flaws; but can we change, and why would we want to?

OK first things first: We can’t really change our personalities. Personality is a result of the interaction between genetic conditions (what’s in our biological data) and environmental conditions (what is fed into us during those first crucial 7-8 years and can be represented this way: P=(GxE). So from quite an early age our personalities are roughly set.

But we can modify our behaviour. Behaviour is a result of the interaction between personality and situation and can be represented in this way: B=(PxS). So change the situation we are all capable of modifying our behaviour. When I teach psychology everyone loves these descriptions until they realise the implications: you really can change if you want to. 

But of course we can’t leave it there. I have worked in organisations across the world, confronted some very senior people with some difficult truths and they sometimes say: “why would I want to change?” So there is another dimension, which is the motivation to change.

Subscribe to RSS - Behaviour