Self-knowledge: How to know your true personality and why it matters

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Jason Ford

EVER wondered what other people think of you – I mean, what they really think of you? I consider myself decent company, for instance, even if I know I get a bit vociferous after a few pints of bitter. I like to think I am open-minded and considerate, too, though I recognise I can be dismissive at times. But lately, particularly the morning after a few of those pints, I have become curious about how other people see me.

Let’s be honest: sometimes I wonder if people think I’m more obnoxious than I realise. Because presumably you wouldn’t know. That is partly where the intrigue lies for me. How accurately do we see ourselves? And who is the real you anyway – the person you think you are, or the person other people see?

It isn’t that I am self-obsessed, you understand. I am just intrigued about the extent to which the way people see my personality tallies with the way I view myself. Ultimately, I wonder whether being more aware of these shadowy hinterlands of self-knowledge might make life better – not only for me, but for those who spend time with me. Did I say I wasn’t self-obsessed?

In search of answers, I did what most sensible people tend to avoid: I solicited honest insights into my nature from a dozen friends, family members and colleagues. I asked them to fill out a 60-point questionnaire designed by psychologists to assess personality, and to give the two traits they most associate with me – one positive and one negative. Then I waited nervously for the scales to fall from my eyes.

Personality test …

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