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What is Personality?

Your personality can be defined as the combination of characteristics and qualities that form your distinctive character, and personality tests such as the  Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) will help you identify what ‘type’ of personality you have.
However, completing such tests, which you should do regularly, is not the only way to get to know yourself. The best way to get to know anything well is to study it objectively, and so everybody should make a point of studying themselves.

Getting to Know You

One particular technique for this is based on self-reflection. 
It is simple and very powerful.
Step 1: At the end of any day, take a few moments to sit down and record, as factually as possible, any particularly interesting or problematic incidents that you may have been involved in. It might be a situation that evoked strong emotions in you, or one which you think you didn’t handle as well as you could have, or one which you think you handled very well. Simply write down what happened; don’t try to record why it happened or your opinion about what happened at this stage, but do try to record any strong feelings or emotions you felt.
Step 2: Look at what you’ve written in Step 1 and ask yourself questions about it, such as:
  • Was this an unusual or fairly commonplace event for you?
  • If there were other people involved, what do you think that they were thinking and feeling?
  • Was there something you wanted out of the situation? If yes, what and why?
  • If you think you could have handled the situation better, what could you have done instead?
  • If you think you handled the situation well, what did you do to make it successful?
  • How did your actions during this incident reflect your values? (Record which values.)
  • How familiar are you with the emotions and feelings you felt during this incident?
  • What do your actions, thoughts, feelings and emotions during this incident tell you about yourself?
  • What interests you most about the whole incident?

The more honestly and objectively you can answer these questions, the better you will get to know yourself.

Step 3: Look back at past incidences you have recorded in this way. Can you see a pattern emerging? If so, what is it?

Step 4: Look at what you’ve written at Steps 2 and 3. What does this tell you about yourself, about your personality? What appear to be your strengths, and what are your weaknesses. What are the implications? Are there any behaviours you would like to change or modify in similar situations in the future? Record this also.

Step 5: If possible discuss what you have written with a friend, mentor or coach, and see if they can add to your reflections, even if they did not see the incident.

Repeat Steps 1-5 as often as possible. Many people are surprised at what they uncover about themselves.


Johari Window

Devised by American psychologists Joseph Luft and Harry Ingham in 1955, the Johari Window is a simple and effective tool for illustrating self-awareness and an individual’s personality and relationships with others in a group or team.

The Johari window arranges information about a person into four quadrants on two axes, i.e. what is known or unknown to others about the person, and what the person knows or doesn’t know about themselves.

‘Information’ in this context refers to the person’s attitudes and beliefs, experience, skills and personality.

The Window can be used, for example, to improve communication and relationships by expanding the ‘Open Self’ quadrant (or ‘pane’) horizontally into the ‘Blind Self’ quadrant through constructive feedback so that the person can learn more about themselves. 

Johari Window.JPG



Ferrucci, P. (2009) What We May Be. Jeremy P. Tarcher.

Goleman, D. et al. (2017) Emotional Self-Awareness – A Primer. More Than Sound.

Honey, P. (1997) Improve Your People Skills. 2nd ed. IPD.

Luft, J. and Ingham, H. (1955) ‘The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness’. Proceedings of the western training laboratory in group development. Los Angeles: UCLA.

Pink, D. (2011) Drive. Cannon Gate.

Seligman, M. (2011) Flourish. Nicholas Brealey.

Stewart, I. and Joines, V. (2012) TA Today: A New Introduction to Transactional Analysis. 2nd ed. Vann Joines.


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