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Friday, September 10, 2010

REFLECTIONS OF OUR PERSONALITY

I have written in the past about how our personal appearance sends signals to others as to what type of person we are, e.g.; clean and neat versus sloppy and poorly groomed (see "Appearances"). In that same article, I also described the message we convey by the appearance of our office and, No, I am not of the opinion that "a cluttered desk is the sign of a brilliant mind." Beyond this though there are other areas we should be aware of in terms of the signals we send to people.

Some time ago we hired a gentleman to work for us in Customer Service. Prior to this we had only met professionally where he presented himself well and gave us the impression he was a class act. He was hired and transferred down to our offices in Florida. After getting settled into his new home, he asked my wife and I over to his house for dinner. When we arrived, I noticed the outside of the house and lawn wasn't very manicured, but I chalked it up to the transitional phase he was still going through. However, when we entered the home, our host invited us into the living room where the showpiece was a large crushed-velvet Elvis picture hung over the fireplace. Sitting not far away on a bookshelf was a mood lamp slowly perking along, something I hadn't seen since my college days in the 1970's. At first I was going to burst out laughing before I quickly realized these were his prized possessions which he treasured. I therefore said nothing. Now, it's not that I have anything against "The King" in black light, or a mood lamp, but it struck me as odd that a grown man, who I had judged as being a professional, would have such tastes. Over time we discovered he was indeed "different," not just in the office but through observations made by our customers. Not surprising, we eventually parted ways. The point is, our homes can reflect our personality as much as our personal appearance.

We have long known the type of pets we own also reflect our personalities. For example, "cat people" are different than "dog people." Then there are those pet owners enamored with birds, fish, horses, or lizards. I still don't understand those people who try to raise chimpanzees, bears, and big cats; I think there's a bolt loose somewhere. Even the different breeds of a type of animal, such as dogs, leave different impressions, such as a German Shepherd owner versus a Basset Hound owner, versus a Greyhound, versus a Shih Tzu, etc. Different breeds of dogs, different human personas.

The one item though that personally tells me a lot about a person is the car they drive. There are two aspects to this: what they drive, and how they treat the vehicle. It has long been understood that what we drive says a lot about our character, be it a certain type of sports car, luxury car, regular sedan, all-terrain sports vehicle, etc. It is how we try to distinguish ourselves and says a lot about our interests and priorities.

Perhaps more interesting is how people treat their cars such as how it is painted, decorated and maintained. Some people like to keep their cars spotless, others turn them into rolling offices, a dumpster for all sorts of garbage, a bathroom or kitchen, or just plain chaos on wheels. If you ever want to study people, look no farther than your local car wash and observe the types of people who drop their cars off there. If possible, check the state of the interior as well as the exterior before it is cleaned.

Afterwards, while waiting for my car, I like to play a game of matching people up to their vehicles. I've gotten pretty good at it too and can probably make the right match 99% of the time. To me, there is definitely a connection between people and their automobiles.

Whether it is your house, your pets, or your favorite form of transportation, these items speak volumes about your interests, tastes and personality, regardless if you are cognizant of it or not. Nonetheless, the fact remains we are judged not only by our skills and personalities, but also by the personal possessions we surround ourselves. Knowing this can have a profound impact on your career, positively or negatively.

Keep the Faith!

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Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M. Bryce & Associates (MBA) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

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