Each of us is unique in our own way. We all have different thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that sum up our personalities.
Our personality determines our unique strengths, weaknesses, and preferences. Further, it influences how people perceive us.
As a result, our personality has a big say in what different areas of life will bring us – success, joy, fulfillment, stress, sorrow, and disappointment.
However, some personality traits and qualities often lead to better things in life. People carrying most of these qualities leave a positive, lasting impression on most people and are said to have strong personalities.
Think Steve Jobs, Elon Musk, Barack Obama, Mahatma Gandhi – the list goes on and on.
And, most of us would like to join the list.
What makes their personalities strong and remarkable? Is your personality strong enough to take you there?
Let’s find out what it means to have a strong personality and how you can develop one.
What does a strong personality look like?
Genetics, upbringing, life experiences, and the environment surrounding us play a crucial role in shaping our persona.
Before we discuss the traits of a strong personality, let’s first understand if it is possible to change (or develop) one’s personality.
Earlier, psychologists believed that people were born with a set of characteristics and developed personality at an early age, which tends to remain consistent throughout life.
But now, the scientific fraternity is of the popular view that personality traits are not set in stone. It is completely possible to change our personality and improve it.
Yes, it takes time and effort!
A strong personality has a lot to do with whether others, in general, perceive your actions and behavior in a positive light.
When you think about a strong personality, who comes to your mind? How do you feel about them?
I’m sure it is someone who stands out from the crowd. The person is likable, accomplished, skilled in their vocation, confident, and inspiring.
Here are some of the qualities of a strong personality:
- Positive outlook
- Effective communication
- Emotional stability
- High self-esteem
- Growth mindset
Without further ado, let me throw light on how you can develop a strong personality.
Understand who you are
The great thinker Aristotle said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.”
The essence of this quote is the first step to developing a strong personality. Unless you spend time understanding your personality traits, you won’t be able to set foot in the right direction.
Understanding your personality means you’ll be identifying the characteristics that are natural to you and filtering out your strengths and weaknesses.
Since personality has an element of subjectivity, and our brains hold cognitive biases, understanding it can be a complex process.
Moreover, it is important to distinguish that having a certain set of characteristics doesn’t determine a good, bad, strong, or weak personality. It’s how those traits govern your actions and behavior towards yourself and others.
How to learn about your personality, then? Of course, you’d already be aware of many things about yourself. Here, the goal is to get to know yourself in depth.
There are three practical ways to understand your personality better:
Introspection is the process of observing your own thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Like we read books to gain knowledge on various subjects, introspection helps us learn more about ourselves.
As I mentioned earlier, our mental biases may come in our way of truly recognizing our patterns. So, it takes a great deal of honesty to evaluate ourselves.
2. Feedback from others
We often tend to be better at judging others’ personality traits. So, getting feedback from others is a great way to determine our personality.
Your close ones and the people you usually interact with can provide deep insights into how they interpret you.
Here, you need to make sure the feedback you’re seeking is from people who have your welfare at their heart. On the flip side, you will also have to be sincere and objective in receiving those feedback.
3. Personality tests
Third, and my favorite way to learn more about yourself is by taking personality tests.
The subject of personality has always aroused the curiosity of thinkers, philosophers, and psychologists. Consequently, they devised psychometric tests to measure personality.
Some of the popular and scientifically valid ones include The Big Five Personality, MBTI, and DISC Profile.
These tests determine your prominent traits, abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Also, they extrapolate your fundamental traits into your aptitude, career direction, relationship style, and other possibilities in your life.
You are asked a set of questions about your thoughts, feelings, habits, and behavior.
Then, presented with a report to give an insight into your personality.
A word of caution:
The results of psychometric tests depend on the answers you give based on your perception of yourself. So, you’ll have to answer honestly to get the correct results.
Not to mention, personality is too layered a concept to measure or put into boxes through algorithms. It is important not to accept the results of psychometric tests as your ultimate truth and to identify with it obsessively.
It’s best to use the results (for that matter, others’ feedback too) as data points to learn more about your personality.
You can compare the outcomes of all three techniques, and identify common themes to reach a solid answer.
Figure out the direction of your personality development
The alignment between who you are and what you want to do are two critical factors in deciding the direction of your personality development.
Along with understanding your personality, you need to figure out which parts of your personality are in sync with what you want to achieve in life and where you need to improve.
Let’s say you want to become an effective politician. Then you must have leadership qualities, public speaking skills, a confident presence, and the ability to deal with criticism.
On the other hand, if you want to become a leading psychologist, you must be highly empathetic, trustworthy, observant, and an active listener. You’d also need to be able to detach yourself from others’ problems.
While the basic strong personality traits remain pretty much the same, your goals will decide where to focus more. Which traits to develop if you don’t already have them – be it self-confidence or empathy?
How to do it?
As you go about understanding your personality and your goals, list down your strengths and weaknesses.
In fact, you can do a SWOT analysis of your personality. What are your greatest strengths? What are your biggest weaknesses? Which traits can bring you the most opportunities? Which traits are a threat and can take you down?
You may even do a SWOT analysis for each area of your life – career, finance, personal relationships, health, and so on.
I once took a quiz related to the expansiveness of life experiences. It gave me a report like this. You may create a graph (like the one in the image) for yourself using a graphic design tool to visualize your personality’s SWOT.
Play to your strengths, work on your weaknesses
Once you have a clear picture of your strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to get into the action.
Developing a strong personality is not only about improving your weak spots. It is equally about making the most of your strengths.
Playing to your strengths means leveraging your natural skills and characteristics wherever you can.
You might be an introverted person who doesn’t enjoy public speaking but is good at expressing yourself in writing. In such a case, you may excel at a profession like content writing.
In a case where you’re stuck in a people-facing job like customer service, you may choose to handle the live chat wing of your organization and use your writing skills to solve customer problems, instead of exhausting yourself with phone conversations.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you don’t need to get better at speaking (if your work demands it).
The point is, you can improve steadily at your own pace without overwhelming yourself. You may even find an out-of-the-box idea that’s a win-win for you and the situation you’re in.
A word of caution:
Though our strengths are our best assets, overusing them may turn them into a weakness.
You might be blessed with strong persuasion skills. However, obsessive persuasion may even get to a point of manipulation.
If you don’t keep a watch, eventually, it can do more harm than good.
Strengthen your communication skills
If you observe strong personalities, you’ll find their communication skills to be outstanding. They convey their thoughts, ideas, and information clearly and with conviction. Others not only resonate with what they have to say but often get moved by it.
Having strong communication skills doesn’t mean you have to be an orator or a prolific writer. Being an effective communicator means expressing yourself clearly.
At the same time, your audience equally matters. The person (or people) your communication is meant for must understand it and take it positively.
Effective communication is the way to build trust, resolve conflicts, solve problems, increase productivity, provide clarity and direction, and much more.
Before you dive into improving your communication skills, you should know that communication is a complex process where multiple factors come into play at once – whether it is verbal or written communication.
Verbal communication has three crucial parts to it – verbal cues, nonverbal cues, and listening. The verbal cues involve the words you speak. Nonverbal cues involve your body language, facial expressions, posture, and gestures.
Along with the verbal and nonverbal components, listening is key to successful communication.
Similarly, language, tone, clarity, and completeness of information are among the many factors that affect the effectiveness of written communication.
Communication works for those who work at it. – John Powell
Let’s look at some of the ways to improve your oral and written communications.
Tips for improving verbal communication
Things that can help you practice active listening:
- Pay attention to what the speaker has to say
- Keep an eye on nonverbal cues
- Show that you’re listening by occasionally nodding or making verbal comments
- Ask questions
- Respond appropriately and respectfully
- Summarize what the speaker said to make sure you have understood them correctly
- Don’t judge the speaker
- Don’t offer unsolicited advice
Here are a few things to consider when you’re speaking:
- Think and make mental notes before speaking
- Take time to respond
- Be brief and clear in your speech
- Use considerate and respectful language
- Tell a story to help the audience relate and engage
- Avoid using filler words such as “like”, “um”
- Avoid speaking too quickly
- Keep your emotions in check
Things to take care of your body language:
- Sit or stand upright
- Relax your body
- Don’t talk with folded hands
- Use open hand gestures (but don’t overuse them)
- Make eye contact (but not too much to make the listener uncomfortable)
- Avoid touching your face
- Maintain a slight smile (Of course, depending on the situation)
For some, speaking confidently may not come naturally. Here are some exercises to strengthen your verbal communication:
- Practice speaking in front of a mirror
- Record yourself and assess your voice and tone
- Start small by speaking in low-risk situations (around friends and family)
- Practice voice modulation
- Seek feedback from others
- Get formal training from a speaking coach, if you want
Improving written communication
Whether you’re addressing your team over email or sharing your knowledge with larger audiences through a blog, writing is a powerful communication tool.
Here are a few tips to improve your written communication skills:
- Think from the audience’s point of view before writing
- Frame your message such that no missing links are there
- Be straightforward, clear, and concise in getting your point across
- Use active voices, short, and simple sentences
- Write in inclusive and respectful language
- Simplify the text for the reader with formatting and highlighting
- Make sure the text is error-free
- Read and re-read before sending or publishing
Tools like Grammarly and Writer.com can help you perfect your written communication.
You can also take help from AI writing tools to speed up your writing and make it impactful.
Make knowledge your power
Knowledge is one of the greatest treasures of the strongest personalities. No matter which field, these people who have in-depth knowledge about their field of work, themselves, and people in general.
The impact they are able to make comes from a place of solid knowledge. And, they continue to learn forever. Therefore, people listen to them and give weight to their opinions.
Needless to say, knowledge is the path to wisdom. It can broaden your horizons and infuse your mind with new ideas.
Gaining more and more knowledge is the way to go to strengthen your personality. In the globalized and digitized world, the sources of knowledge are endless.
You can read books, listen to podcasts, watch videos, subscribe to newsletters, join courses, or learn from other experiences.
If you’re an entrepreneur or aspiring to be one, you must increase your knowledge in certain fields, apart from the nuances of your industry:
- Current affairs
- Behavioral sciences
- People dynamics
- Solving problems for others
- Goal setting
- Decision making
- Design thinking
- Business strategies
- Finances and Investment
- Macro and microeconomics
- Personal development
- Stress management
From audiobooks to newsletters, there are tons of sources you can refer to.
With so much to learn about and limited time, you may wonder how you will ever manage it. If you have the will, there’s a way.
There are many productivity techniques that can help you maximize your learning in a limited time.
Moreover, many platforms offer bite-sized information for busy people. Platforms like Udemy and Coursera have a plethora of courses you can take to upskill at your own pace.
If you wish to learn from the strongest personalities, platforms like Mindvalley are the way to go.
Push yourself out of your comfort zone
No one likes to feel uncomfortable or feel anxious doing something. Isn’t it a state where you don’t experience anxiety or challenge the place to be?
A Comfort zone is a situation the wise warn against. It is a human tendency to choose reward over risk.
However, this risk aversion often leads to stagnation and a lack of fulfillment. While our comfort zone is a place where we feel safe and secure, it often becomes limiting to our potential.
They say magic happens right outside your comfort zone. You’ll find strong personalities pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, time and again.
According to psychologists, our brains seek stimulation for better performance. A long stint in the comfort zone makes boredom set in causing a decline in performance.
Hence, leaving your comfort zone is crucial to becoming successful.
If you’re wondering what a comfort zone looks like, there’s no universal answer.
Every person’s comfort zone may look different. For some, it may be not having to face the stage. For others, it may be being able to eat alone at a restaurant.
Whatever may be yours, if you wish to achieve more, you’d need to step out of your comfort zone to your growth zone. You’ll have to encounter your fears, deal with challenges, and learn new things along the way.
Leaving your comfort zone requires continuous effort and is a long process. Here are a few ways to ease yourself out of your comfort zone:
- Identify the areas of your life where being too comfortable is doing more harm than good.
- Notice how you feel when you try doing something that scares you. Observing your body’s response will make it easier to overcome fear.
- Take small steps by trying something that feels uncomfortable each day.
- Learn something new every day to diversify your belief system.
- Grow your skill sets to boost your confidence.
- Avoid thinking too much, just get head-on to things. You’ll get them done.
The level of effort you tolerate from yourself will define your life. – Tom Bilyeu
Develop strong work ethics
A strong work ethic is another striking trait you’ll find among strong personalities. No matter how brilliant you are in your domain, success will go for a toss if you lack a good work ethic.
While it may seem like a subjective topic, work ethics say a lot about one’s personality. It reflects their responsibility, trustworthiness, dedication, integrity, and much more.
Let’s look at how you can develop strong work ethic:
- Work hard
- Deliver consistent and high-quality work
- Always be punctual
- Stay disciplined
- Be accountable, honest, and transparent
- Accept your mistakes when you’re wrong
- Act morally
- Maintain professional demeanor
- Cooperate with others
- Treat others respectfully
- Encourage and help others
- Keep your words
- Strive for excellence
- Be open to learn
Developing strong work ethic is not only key to your success, it helps you set an example for others, especially if you’re an entrepreneur. Your conduct will lead the way for your team’s conduct and performance.
Apply yourself at whatever you do, whether you’re a janitor or taking your first summer job, because that work ethic will be reflected in everything you do in life. – Tyler Perry
Improve your personal well-being
Personality development is incomplete without your personal well-being—physical, mental, and emotional.
Your overall well-being is essential to fostering your growth and dealing with the challenges you will come face to face in your pursuits.
Unless your mind, body, and emotions are in harmony, you won’t be able to put your best foot forward and enjoy the fruits of your efforts.
To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear. – Buddha
Let’s look at what you can do to boost your overall wellness each day.
Tips to improve physical wellness
- Eat a balanced diet
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Exercise regularly (or find ways to stay physically active like cycling or climbing stairs)
- Take adequate rest
- Avoid smoking, alcohol, sugary drinks, and other harmful substances that can impact your health adversely
- Spend some time out in the sun
- Make sure to take regular time off from the screen to keep your eyes healthy
Tips to improve mental and emotional wellness
Mental and emotional wellness are interlinked with physical wellness.
Besides making sure you take care of your physical health, follow a few other tips to boost your mental and emotional well-being:
- Be kind to yourself and others
- Take time out to relax and de-stress yourself
- Set healthy boundaries and learn to say NO to things that you don’t want to do
- Cultivate strong social bonds by spending time with family, friends, and even strangers
- Learn new skills to stimulate your mind
- Do something meaningful each day to have a sense of purpose in life
- Practice techniques like meditation and mindfulness to keep a cope with daily stress
- Journal to keep track of and deal with your thoughts and feelings
- Develop healthy habits
There are tons of apps that can help you journal, develop good habits, de-stress, and improve your overall well-being. Moreover, these can help boost your productivity too.
You can try Headspace, Calm, Habit, Reflectly, Todoist, Happify – to name a few.
Final Words – Embrace your uniqueness
Developing a strong personality is not a one-time task. It is a continuous process that permeates everything you do, in every walk of life.
There are many strong personalities you can take inspiration from. Far more techniques can help you improve your skills, conquer your fears, defy odds, and set you up for success.
However, the bottom line of everything is to embrace your uniqueness. All your strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, and feelings shape a unique human being like no other.
Hence, your road to personality development will be unlike anyone else’s.
Spend time understanding yourself better.
Keep exploring new things to expand your potential.
Keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
Above all, take care of your mind, body, and spirit; and you shall be invincible!