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Why Personality Is A Language

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Language of personality why language is a personality

At least half the world is said to be bilingual, meaning they have proficiency in more than one language. It’s often argued that people have different personalities in different languages, which means, a person can be introverted in Swedish, speaking more slowly and calmly, and engaging more in introspective styles, and then, being more outgoing in English, speaking more enthusiastically, and with more energy.

But it’s not just your outward behavior that can change depending on the language, your very thinking can be different – for example, you might make different decisions depending on which language you are currently using. This is also shaped by cultural rules and practices in different countries, and the fact that different languages “enable” us to think about problem’s differently.

For example, the practical, lego-like structure of Swedish and German, allows you to more easily construct words by adding different words together, creating the idea that any word has a relationship to any other word, and fisktrottoar (fish pavement) is now a completely valid word to describe something that closes off water so that fish cannot escape to the other side.

This allows you to think completely different to how you might in say, English, where you would rather invent completely new words or terms to describe new things. But not just how we construct words, but also how we organize them, can vary from language to language. In spanish we say “Mi partido favorita” (My favorite game) and in Swedish we say “Mitt favoritspel.”. Or how about dutch, where you say “Ik heb van de fiets gevallen” – which in English would be “I have from the bike fallen”. And these are languages that are fairly closely related to one another. While small – these differences completely change how we think and communicate different topics.

Personality is just like a language

Personality is very similar to a language, in the sense that personality seems generally socially-culturally constructed, developed and increased through social experiences and through our upbringing. Leave an infant stranded on an abandoned island, and you’ll find that this person won’t have much of a personality (if they would somehow magically survive) though they might have a base character, they can’t really communicate anything about their feelings, thoughts, or who they are, or what hobbies they have. These are experiences that we gain by comparing ourselves to each other, and learning how we relate to our social groups. How would they know what music they like? What they like to wear? Whether they enjoy philosophy or sports or not?

With character, we might refer to a persons base emotional response, if they are timid, withdrawn, approach you, bold, or whether they choose an aggressive or peaceful approach, or a persons skills, how resilient or tough they are, if you can trust them to be honest, or if you think they’d lie or steal from you if given the chance. With personality, personality is much more complicated, because personality is a negotiation with your tribe or social environment. For example, if you’re in a group with 10 people, who are all equally shy and timid, somebody is going to have to speak up or say or do something at some point. Who’s going to take the role of the outgoing extrovert? We negotiate our roles and actions and behaviour in all our relationships.

This all suggests one thing, that personality is simply a language, and that different personalities, or patterns of behaviour, would allow you to express yourself differently, or to enable different forms of thinking, problem-solving, or actions, than your primary language. Because, after all, what is a language, but a way of thinking. A system of rules, grammatical practices, dialects, and a unique way to structure sentences, thoughts, and communication. And perhaps personality is just the same. A developed, practiced way of thinking, speaking, and acting, that we develop early in our childhood or teenage years, often inspired by our family, culture, and social environment, but also by our own choices and the role we develop or fall into in our social structure.

Now, let’s assume that most people are Unilingual, in the sense that they only have one personality, or way of speaking, which they feel confident and proficient in, but that you could learn to speak or develop to act or think in multiple ways. But let’s also assume that many people may be bi-personified, in the sense that they may have developed strong proficiency in multiple personalities, and that they can switch between a more extroverted, cultural, and agreeable personality in certain settings, and a more logical, cool, and quiet personality, in other settings. They might have one base personality they’re most proficient in, or they could be almost evenly skilled in both, or perhaps, they’re skilled in more than two.

Can Personality Be Taught?

If personality is just a language, this could be proven – we could then just teach people personality, and see if they’d be able to learn and mimic the thinking, behaviour, and cognitive style of a specific personality. Perhaps, then, we’d have to get them to not just consistently exercise and learn to speak or talk in a certain way, but we’d also need to get them to agree to a certain set of values or principles or a base mindset.

Now, many might have a defence to that, just as we can tell ourselves “we don’t like” certain cultures, or that “certain kinds of people are stupid” – we can assume that we would never want to think or act like a certain personality because we don’t understand or like their mannerisms, thought processes, or common beliefs associated with that personality. For example, we couldn’t magic our way to becoming more agreeable, if we associated being nice with weakness, and thought that being kind would make us become used.

The only way we could “train” or develop a certain personality was if we gained examples and evidence that said personality or pattern of behaviour could be useful in specific situations, and that it could help us achieve certain goals we’d otherwise not be able to pursue. But not only that, we’d have to experiment and practice consistently in our life, in different situations, to see and experience first hand, what that personality is like and how that personality thinks and approaches different situations.

Now, often, most people would prefer if we had a consistent, stable personality, meaning, we’d just act the same way in every situation. When people have stable personalities, they are balanced, we know what to expect from them, and we know what they will say or do in a different situation. That also means we can more easily communicate with them, know what buttons to press, and not to press, and how to manage different situations. So if a person started acting differently, we might wonder what’s wrong with them, we might think they’re upset, sad, or struggling. If a person changes their behaviour, that can unsettle a person, because that means something is not as it used to be. Therefore, it can be vital to keep meeting new people, with whom you can practice new ways of communicating and thinking.

Why learn personality?

Then again, why learn another personality? Your own is probably perfect, and you’re probably good just the way you are. Then again, have you ever experienced situations where you might have wanted to be more outgoing, assertive, or passionate? Or situations where you would have done better by taking a step back and being more modest and careful? You can probably think of examples of both kinds of times. Learning new personalities doesn’t mean that you can’t be you or do what it is you want. It just means getting more tools in your toolbox, so that you can connect with different kinds of people, cultures, and workplaces. The most important thing is that you live by your own code of ethics, and trust your gut, and speak your truth, but personality? Think of it as a dialect, how you say it, how you talk, how you approach these values, and how you put them to practice.


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