Thebastidge: Personality- Part IV
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    Thursday, August 02, 2007

    Personality- Part IV

    This post concludes the section on "Agreableness". The next post in the series will explore my "Openness" dimension.

    Social Awareness - Introduction:

    While taking care of others and taking care of yourself, to what extent do you let people know what you really think and feel? Do you hide your foibles and failures, or can you laugh at yourself in front of someone else? If you believe in someone, will you speak up on their behalf even when it might cost you? Do you see yourself as part of a social system of equals or do you see yourself as part of a social system where you need to game the system a bit - never quite sure what others want or what you are willing to give. For some people, it's true that what you see is what you get; there's nothing hidden about them. For others, what you see is what they want you to see, and they keep a good bit of who they are out of sight. The following paragraphs describe your level of social awareness.

    Social Awareness: Your Personalized Description

    Sometimes you just lay your cards on the table, whether it's aces and kings or a busted hand. "Here's what I've got." And people can play off that however they wish to play. At other times, you've got your cards pressed hard against you chest and no one knows if you're holding deuces or jacks. You hope the other person folds their hand so you don't have to lay your cards on the table, face up. Interesting, aren't you? Open with some things about yourself, closed tight about other things. Open with some people, closed like a drum with others.

    Maybe it depends upon how comfortable you are with yourself in a particular situation. If the conversation is about stuff in you you're not ashamed of or things you know a lot about, you're out there: cards on the table. You can laugh at foibles you've come to terms with, stand up for beliefs you know the person in front of you shares, even stand up for a disreputable person if their bad reputation doesn't splash on you. But if the conversation drifts toward the uncomfortable - something you've done but want to keep secret, a belief you hold that no one else buys into, a friend this particular crowd finds a bit obnoxious - then it's cards against the chest, secrets clung to, reputation protected by silence.

    Or maybe it depends upon how comfortable you are with the people in front of you. With your partner or a trusted friend you can exhale about your who you are; they already know your through and through and love you still and all. So put it out there, whatever it is: you at your worst, you at your best (which is sometimes harder to share, because we're afraid of seeming "too full of" ourselves), your goofiest or wildest behavior or belief. You trust them to take this, as they take everything about you, and hold it carefully. But if the person in front of you is a stranger, or a proven "untrustworthy-with-private-information" sort, then you smile as if everything is just dandy thank you, let only minimal truth leak out of you, and leave them as much in the dark about your true self as you can. Maybe that's it: you rock between secrecy and openness depending upon who is standing in front of you.

    One word of caution. Even if it makes sense to be discreet with what you share, if you are inconsistent in your openness you may get to be known as two-faced: candid when it's convenient, but capable of hiding out when it suits you. Some people might find you hard to trust if they come to see you like this. What to do about it? Well, you've got to be true to yourself, even if that means being inconsistent. But in the long run you're probably better off getting more comfortable with whatever is inside you and expanding the circle of people with whom you share this. At least this gives you a direction in which to move rather than continuing to rock between open and closed, open and closed, open and closed.

    This is part IV of a series. Parts I, II, and III are below.

    More to come tomorrow.


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