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Is There a Difference Between Character and Personality?

Many times the words character and personality are used interchangeably.  While related, there are distinct differences between the two words and their meanings.

Character is often used to define a person’s integrity, such as he has “upstanding character” or “his character is lacking.”  Character is actually a set of behavior traits that define what type of person you are.  Do you follow the rules of your “group?”  Many times people who do not follow the rules of the group, whether it is a family group, work group, or religious group, are not accepted by the group.    This tenant and tendency has been in place since the beginning of time.  
Are you upfront and honest when dealing with others?  People who have a positive social character are often found to be more easily trusted by others.  Again, this follows the same age-old truism mentioned above.

Personality, on the other hand, is defined as the traits with which you were born.  People tend to be either analytical in nature or socially outgoing.  Most people fall into the realm of being either extroverted or introverted.  Other common distinctions are dominant, influencing, steady, or compliant personalities.

Personality is inborn.  Character, however, comes from learned behavior inside your early relationships.  This learning comes from both observation and interaction with your parents, teachers, and other social networks.  While character does have an “inborn” link due to its finite relationship to personality, character is actually designed and developed from and during our early relationships until they become ingrained.  Character as well as belief and value systems are inherently linked.

Does this mean that character is not changeable?  No, character can be changed purposely in order to better get along in groups or it can vary situationally.  An example of situational character is the person who never misses a church service but does have absences at work.  Or vice versa.

Character traits are the attitudes and beliefs that you have toward your life, work, family, and community.  Character traits may be positive, negative, or somewhere in between.  There is a direct link between positive character traits and a happy and successful life.  Negative character traits that have been “strongly and long” ingrained usually do cause strife at some point.  But a focus on positive change can and does work.  Look to Executive Coaching or personal development classes such as “The Phoenix Psychology of Achievement” by Brian Tracy to help make the necessary changes.  The desire to change can and does bring great results!

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Judy W Bell

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