Guy Answers the Question:
Can Your Personality Style Change Over Time?
People often say that they think they had one personality style as a child and a different one as an adult. While I suppose that is theoretically possible, it is not very likely.
I do not claim to be a licensed mental health professional, psychologist, psychiatrist, or neurological system expert. I have spoken with thousands of people in various environments and done lots of reading on the topic. Based on everything I know today; I believe that our primary, basic personality style is determined by about six years old.
That simple statement then begs the question: Are you born with your personality style or is it developed over time. I'll write more about this later, but the simple answer is: both.
And, before I go much further, let's clarify a point: the DISC model actually estimates your behavioral style rather than your personality style. The distinction can be subtle, and it is still a note worthy distinction. Still most people use the words personality style and behavioral style almost interchangeably. In conversation, I often switch back and forth between the phrases myself — not because I see them as the same but simply due to slipping into colloquial speech rather than strictly accurate clinical speech.
Back to the topic of this post: can your personality style change over time?
Barring a major physical or psychological trauma, I don't think so — at least not very much.
We might find ourselves in different environments (or contexts) that call for us to behave in different ways. And, changing your behavior to fit a situation does not imply that your personality style changed. In fact, I would go further to say that I don't think that most people see major changes in their behavioral style either.
This last statement calls for some explanation.
Often when I teach or speak on the DISC model, I don not have the opportunity to delve into the subtlety of the information learned from completing a full DISC assessment that produces graphs that show the blend and intensity of the four DISC style in both the person's environmental, or adapted, style and their basic, or natural, style.
Here's the quick distinction between environmental and basic styles.
For most people, their basic style represents the most consistent part of who they are. It usually represents how theythe think about, feel about, or otherwise interpret and process the world around them. It reflects the type of environment that would be the most comfortable for them.
On the other hand, their environmental style represents how they behave in response to their world. It may or may not be the same as their basic style. It's usually not terribly different, but it can be for some people. The environmental style reflects what people have done to their behaviors to function, survive, and succeed in their environment.
Environmental style can change over time as people find themselves in different environments. Basic style tends to stay pretty much the same over a person's lifetime.
I also believe that most people can learn new ways of behaving and interacting that make them begin to look as if they have changed their personality. For example, I have learned to tell stories and jokes to entertain and engage people while I am presenting, and I still prefer to be alone. I still have a reserved personality even though I have learned some outgoing behaviors.
In keeping with the theme of this blog, the big idea is this: don't hide behind your personality or behavioral style, get over it.
With study and practice, all of us can learn to adjust our behaviors for greater connection, relationship, and influence with others.
This article is from the DISC FAQ's series. Use the links below to read more from this series.
- DISC Model FAQ's: Can Four Styles Really Describe Everyone?
- DISC Model FAQ's: Could I Have More Than One DISC Behavior Style?
- DISC Model FAQ's: Can I Have One DISC Style at Work and Another DISC Style at Home?
- DISC Model FAQ's: Is One Style Better Than the Others?
- DISC Model FAQ's: Can Your Personality Style Change Over Time
- DISC Model Frequently Asked Questions
- DISC Model FAQ's: Is Changing Your Behavior Phoney?
- DISC FAQ's: Can I Change My Personality Style On Purpose?
- A DISC Model Question You Should Ask of Yourself
- Effective Communication Skills: How to Quickly Guess a Person’s DISC Style
- Why I Use The DISC Model