“Personality” by Daniel Nettle

AUTHOR: Daniel Nettle

AUTHOR: Daniel Nettle

What makes life so rich is that we are all different. When we embrace diversity in its fullest, we all get a rich experience and learn so much from each other. That is a utopian view for everyone to just get along like one big happy family but we know from experience working in the international relations field that our differences has led to war, genocide and everyday hate. So what makes us different? If we move beyond political, religious, sexual and racial differences, what makes us fundamentally different from one another comes down to our very personalities. We may share a personality trait of some sort with another human being but they will never be exactly like us, and that is pretty fascinating. Our personalities causes us to do, think and interact differently with one another but what exactly causes this.

To help us understand the psychological theories and practices behind our personality traits, we recommend the book “Personality: What Makes You the Way you are” by Daniel Nettle to support Chapter 3 – “Enhancing Emotional Intelligence” of the Diplomatic Planner. This book examines the factors that influence personality based on the research of numerous psychologist, so be prepared for a detailed read. Through this book, you will learn about the core traits that determine our overall character, the strengths and weaknesses of each personality trait, and how to get the most out of your own personality, which can be useful in our field.

If you are quite a self-aware individual, you probably have a good idea about what personality trait you have. There are a lot of great tests you can take which are recommended in the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy to fully understand yourself and putting the best version of yourself out on the international stage. If you are somewhat oblivious, get ready for some eye-opening self-realisation. Have you ever wondered why some people are anxious all of the time or perhaps relaxed? The range of human personality can seem elusive and difficult to understand, but determining personalities can help us determine our decisions and behaviours.

From generations of work completed by psychologists, we have learned that our personalities derive from our genetics and the environment we grow up in. About 50 per cent of our personality comes from our genes and the other half from our environment. In other ways, it is a mixed from something we inherit and something we learn, and anything we learn can be unlearned if it is something detrimental to us or other people. Most of the things we learn is mostly developed in our childhood. Children learn to adapt very quickly in order to survive, so when we are in situations where we learn something important as children, it influences us as adults. Regardless of what experiences we go through as adults, the personality we develop as children stays with us for the most of our life. Personality is deeply rooted and has a huge impact on every aspect of our life.

We live our lives based on our decisions and we make decisions based on our personalities. So, if you are a naturally anxious person, you may be more prone to take precise measures to safeguard yourself from danger compared to a person who is naturally outgoing and thrives at new challenges. We make decisions based on our personalities which means that our life paths are usually closely ties to our personalities.

 When you look at personality from an evolutionary perspective, it is clear that the wide range of personalities has come about as no accident. As a species, we wouldn’t survive if we all had the same personality type because we would have never evolved. According to Darwinism, evolution is key to our survival. However, not all personality traits are useful to our survival which is why humans are more adaptable than animals. We all know about the ‘fight or flight’ method for survival and how fear can drive us to make instinctual decisions that may contrast our typical decision-making process.

When we look at personality traits specifically, we may see patterns on how certain types veer towards certain kinds of jobs or environments to blend in better. People with more risky personality traits are more likely to seek out dangerous jobs like moving into law enforcement. Without these jobs, society won’t be able to function properly but we can’t have everyone jumping to take on dangerous jobs or we lose balance. We, as humans, need to work together and depend on each other for survival, and it is to our benefit to have such a wide collective variety of personality. We explore more about job type and fit in Chapter 4 of the Diplomatic Planner.

In the book, Nettle explores the big five core personality traits in some detail. Our personalities are determined by what levels of each trait we have. The top five are: extraversion, neuroticism, conscientiousness, agreeableness and openness.

In short, extraversion is about positive emotions where moods are measured by rewards. As their mood is affected by what they see and think, extraverts tend to look on the bright side of things and are usually adventurous and outgoing. Then we have neuroticism, who are people who worry about things often and are frankly neurotic about things. They tend to panic about things they need or want to move away when their neighbour’s house has been broken into. People who expect the worst are more likely to prepare for danger and are useful for survival. People who are conscientious are those who have the ability to set a goal for themselves and then work towards achieving it, which is a great predicator of success in a career. They are dedicated to their goals and therefore have a conscientious attitude. Having an agreeable personality trait means that you can overlook your own needs to help others, which is unique for humans that animals don’t display. Agreeableness developed as a survival mechanism as our ancestors realised that they could survive better if they supported each other in groups. The final trait, openness, makes people imaginative, creative or eccentric but much more studies is required of this trait.

Each personality trait has its advantages and disadvantages. Rather than thinking of a trait to be annoying, instead think of what the world would be like without it. Imagine if we had no-one who displayed neurotic behaviour. One of the great advantages of neuroticism is that neurotic people tend to want to improve things which benefits society. When something goes wrong, they want to make the problem go away. This might be someone who dedicates their life to fight against climate change and develop environmentally friendly products and way of doing things.

Understanding your personality can help you improve yourself and find your niche. Understanding your own personality can give you a new perspective on how we see and interact with the world so that our views are not limited. Sometimes, the most obvious way of seeing something isn’t always the best way. If you want to achieve something, you may need to step back and think about your personality. If you intimately know your traits and their various strengths and weaknesses, you will become happier and more accomplished person. Look back at the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy for a list of various personality tests you can take.

You don’t have to change your personality trait to see things from another perspective. You can improve yourself even if your personality trait stays the same.

“Personality” is recommended for the purposes of the Diplomatic Planner. The Diplomatic Planner is a 12-month career development toolkit for diplomacy and internationals for professionals looking to explore or grow their expertise in the field. Both books are available for purchase via Amazon. For further recommendations, insights, case studies and practicable worksheets, please join the Grassroot Diplomat Online Academy via: www.grassrootdiplomat.org/register