As an author, I’m asked by both readers and other authors on how I develop my characters. I think all writers draw from their own personal experiences and from people they know to create those in their stories. I once read that Elmore Leonard spent six months touring with a band to help build his characters for his novel Be Cool. For me, I find that business self-help books give a lot of insight on people without all the partying, and have been sharing what I’ve learned recently from personal research and the ebook Four Secrets to Liking Your Work, part of the Career Survival Kit Collection.
So far, I’ve talked about the two types of personalities with assertive approaches, Dominance (task focused) and Influence (people focused). For the next two, it might be good to share a bit on how reflective personalities differ. Assertive personalities are more extroverted and seek to change their environment to suit them. Reflective personalities in contrast are more introverted and are more likely to adapt to their environment. Even though they may have the same focus on task or people, there is a world of difference between them. Today I’ll share about the Steadiness personality (people + reflective).
Those with the Steadiness personality are cool-headed, patient, relaxed, and friendly. They are sincere, polite, understanding, good listeners. They are dependable, methodical team players, who are service-oriented and love a strong vision and cause. Building and maintaining stability is a big motivator, as well as infrequent change and sincere appreciation.
Instead of shaping their world through direct action, they tend to “go with the flow”, adapting and changing as necessary, and always with the goal to regain stability. In whatever they do they are concerned for others and try to build consensus and cooperation. They are often counselors and peace-makers, and usually work behind the scenes.
Weaknesses of this personality type include selflessness to an unhealthy degree, indecisiveness and indirectness, they are slow to adapt in diverse or wide-ranging situations. Probably their biggest difficulty is that since they so love stability, they have a tough time in embracing any type of change whether good or bad. They can also be overly self-critical, agonizing over mistakes and misunderstanding.
Mannerisms of High-I people include a slow, even walk with little arm swing. When standing, they are unobtrusively off to one side with their hands clasped in front or behind their back. While sitting, their hands are usually folded in their lap with their feet hooked around the legs of the chair or they might sit on one foot. The use a minimum of hand motions while talking and are slower and more methodical in their speech. When stressed they give in and in extreme conditions act hurt and accuse. To blow off steam they like to do nothing other than to just chill out.
High-S’s best connect on a personal level with other Steadies and then Complaints (reflective + task) and only fairly so with Dominants and Influencers. On the other hand, they work best with High-I and High-D’s, though usually in a supporting role. They work well with other Steadies and Compliants too.
For writers, using High-S’s are probably the easiest for us. Most authors are reflective rather than assertive, so High-S’s have traits we all like and share. I think one struggle authors have is that we tend to make our protagonists a combination of Steadiness and Dominance. That might be ideal in that they have the gumption to save the day but are humble and caring about it. Unfortunately, though it might be ideal, it’s usually not realistic. Readers might better connect with Steadiness characters who haven’t yet overcome their weaknesses. And that’s worth considering since 45% of the U.S. population are High-S’s.
Question: What are your thoughts about the High-S personality?
P.S. If you are interested in taking a DISC profile, here is one I recommend… look for “48 Days Profiles”.