There are tons of articles and other resources out there to help writers create realistic characters, but I’ve found some of the most helpful information comes from sources created for real people in real life situations. And there is nothing better than business help books to get a primer on the different types of people.
For the next few weeks, I’ll highlight a few things I’ve learned recently from an ebook I got off the Kindle store, Four Secrets to Liking Your Work, part of the Career Survival Kit Collection. First off, the book assumes (and I agree) the majority of issues we might have with our job stem from unsatisfactory interactions with people, and three of the “secrets” deal with peoples’ personality, motivations, and preferences.
Today I’ll share a bit about Personality.
Using the DISC Personality Profile, the authors share how people differ in two major ways: focus and approach. To varying degrees each person either focuses more on tasks or on people. Similarly, he or she approaches things either in a reflective (responds to how things are) or assertive (changes how things are) way. These two ranges can be plotted on a graph to make four quadrants denoting four major personality types:
D – Dominance (task focused + assertive approach) – needs control and challenge
I – Influence (people focused + assertive approach) – needs to persuade and interact
S – Steadiness (people focused + reflective approach) – needs security and stability
C – Compliance (task focused + reflective approach) – needs accuracy and caution
Three things to keep in mind: All four are valid and not one is better than the others; in a work environment all four are needed to get the best work done. In some situations your work “personality” can differ somewhat from your natural personality as you adapt to the demands of your job. Last, most people have major and minor personality styles, such as a “High-D” can also possess “I” traits, and so on.
Incorporating these personality styles in characters from conception can really bring a story to life and help authors avoid having all their characters act the same way (i.e. like they do). It also automatically helps your readers connect with characters and to identify with conflict inherent between the personality types. And believe me, as we go through each of these types in turn over the coming weeks, you’ll see what I mean.
Have you ever taken the DISC profile? What did you think about it?
P.S. If you are interested in taking a DISC profile, here is one I recommend… look for “48 Days Profiles”.