Personality and Perception: How facets of personality can shape our reality

There’s an ancient parable about a group of blind men who had heard of a strange animal called an elephant and set out to discover it for themselves. When they come across the elephant, they strongly disagree about what it is they have found. The elephant is different for each of them; long and thin for one person and large and…erm…smelly…for another. Different versions of the story appear in texts linked to a range of different faiths and the outcome of the encounter varies; in some versions, the group realise that they’re all ‘right’ in a way; in other versions they argue it out until they come to blows.

So how does this all relate to Facet5’s capacity to give us an accurate view of our personality?

Personality is more than just how we’re perceived by others, or even how we view ourselves. Each of those 5 Facets of personality also create patterns in our thinking, our actions, our behaviour, and our emotions. Those patterns create that degree of consistency in how others experience us and how we think of ourselves. They also give a degree of consistency to how we approach and interpret the world around us. In this way, who we are becomes a lens for how we see and experience the world.

Imagine the many different perspectives that arise when a system or process is changed in an organisation; “About time!” “Not another hoop to jump through” “Why do we need a process for this stuff anyway?” “I wonder if we can also change the way we do XXX ?” The change will be seen and felt in different ways by different people. Levels of Will, Control or Emotionality may come into play. Beyond the material facts of the change itself, experience of that change becomes personal, filtered through individual perceptions of what that change means and the impact it will have.

“Perception is not reality, but, admittedly, perception can become a person’s reality (there is a difference) because perception has a potent influence on how we look at reality”.

Jim Taylor, Psychology Today; “Perception is not reality” 2019

Beyond what we perceive is happening in the present moment, there is a growing body of research to support that idea that our thoughts and perception of what’s going on can also influence what actually happens to us. Psychologists at Stamford University point to well documented ‘placebo’ effects and Carol Dweck’s ground-breaking research on Growth Mindset and learning outcomes as just some of the examples of this phenomenon in action.

“Our minds aren’t passive observers, simply perceiving reality as it is. Our minds actually change reality”.

Alia Crum – Assistant Professor of Psychology, Director of the Stanford Mind and Body Lab.

So, when we map those different Facets of our personality, that heightened awareness of our preferences and our patterns of behaviour can allow us to step into the gap between what the facts and our own personal perception of what’s going on. In turn this allows us to consider whether our particular viewpoint is serving us in that moment and, if it isn’t, to invite others to help us see it from another angle – one that is no less true or real, but which offers a new possibility, outside our current field of perception. Imagine the opportunities this creates when it comes to innovation, mitigating risk, tackling resistance, and growing new capability.

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