To be successful in working with others, it is helpful to have a good understanding of basic human behaviors and personality types. Personal relationships that seem difficult now may seem a lot easier if you take some time to consider the exact type of person you are dealing with.
There are many types of human behavior, but ultimately, most can be classified into some major categories and personality types.
Molecular vs. molar behavior
Molecular behavior is when you do something simple that you do not really think about. This is the kind of behavior that is hard-wired into our subconscious. You react without any major thought process when you yawn after someone else does or flinch simultaneously.
Molar behavior occurs after you have thought about a situation. For example, if you are trying to cross the street, you look both ways and consider if you have time to get across before a car reaches you.
Overt vs. covert behavior
An overt behavior is an outside action that others can perceive. For example, driving a car or taking a hike with a friend are great examples of overt behaviors people do all the time. However, a covert behavior goes unseen. An example could be thinking that your aunt’s casserole is the worst at the potluck dinner. No one knows you think this — thus, it is covert.
Voluntary vs. involuntary behavior
When we want to do something, then the behavior is voluntary. For example, I might take weekends off in the winter but work weekends in the summer. On the other hand, I cannot choose never to eat or use the restroom — thus, these behaviors are involuntary.
The four types of human personalities
1. The pessimist
A person with a predominantly bleak view would be categorized as a pessimist personality type. These individuals are ruled by doubt and a lack of faith that things will turn out well. While it is natural for people to feel pessimistic at times, a true pessimistic personality will experience negative thoughts and doubts in most situations they find themselves in daily. Too much pessimism can result in being too afraid to improve oneself or take on new challenges. If pessimism is allowed to rule, it risks hold someone back and completely changing their life path.
Consider the following scenario: a person is given the opportunity to relocate and take on a job that pays 25% more than their previous position. They have no other obligations or attachments to keep them in the area and place of work they are currently in. If the person lets pessimism rule their life, they may not take the job due to fear of failure, not liking the city they would have to work in, not liking their boss or co-workers, or any other potential negative consequence they can think of. In this case, the individual is allowing pessimism to prevent them from vastly improving their financial situation and career advancement.
2. The optimist
When someone is predominantly optimistic, they generally believe everything will turn out well. Optimists are often very determined and motivated, so they are a great asset when you have to pick someone to work with or need a positive influence in a team environment. Optimists tend to have higher happiness and personal satisfaction throughout their lives.
The downside to an overly optimistic personality is that it can sometimes lead to a person having a somewhat warped or unrealistic view. This can lead to having faith and optimism far past the point when it is clear to others that something is not going to work out. As a result, optimists may spend too much time on something that is not good for them in the long term or does not pay out.
Some examples could be staying in a relationship and expecting their partner’s behavior to change even if they have promised to change for years and never made an honest effort. Other examples of optimism going too far include staying in a job going nowhere or keeping a business operating at a loss for too long.
While some people have trust issues, the trusting personality type tends to give practically everyone the benefit of the doubt. Their first response is that everyone deserves to be trusted until major evidence shows they cannot be. Trusting personalities can appear naïve to manipulators and others looking for someone to take advantage of in some way.
To a well-meaning person, a trusting personality type may seem very easy to get along with in personal and working relationships. They are empathetic towards others, making them exceptional listeners.
If you have a trusting personality, it is important to be aware of this characteristic. Trusting others too much can expose you to abuse, criminal acts, and betrayal if you do not question a person’s intentions or allow them to earn more than a basic level of trust.
Ah, envy, the green-eyed monster. Everyone feels some envy at times. Envy is a natural emotion to have. The critical factor is how much of a role we allow it to play in our lives and how it reflects on our relationships with others. If envy is a dominant characteristic, it is hard to hide.
The most common forms of envy are related to personal appearance, wealth, possessions, fame and family life. Envy can be positive if it leads the person to improve themselves without resorting to unethical behaviors. Let us use the example of Jane. She is 22 and has recently graduated from college with a degree in business. She realizes that a good friend of hers just landed the position she applied for at a reputable company, making her envious. Now she could take the negative envious approach and stop talking to this friend, or ask herself what she can do differently to make it more likely she is hired by the next company she wants to work for and take steps to make improvements. If she chooses self-improvement, then she is turning envy into positivity.
Another example could be physical fitness. Using a friend’s weight loss as inspiration to lose weight yourself, if you need to, is far better than just being envious and moping about or saying bad things about your friend.
Some people have all these traits
Dominant does not mean that someone will always behave pessimistically, even if they usually do. An optimistic person will experience pessimistic thoughts at times, just like a pessimistic person will have moments of optimism. To be envious at times is human. The key to a healthy mental state is to find balance and realize when one emotion is having too much of an influence on your life.
Human behavior can vary a lot as a person ages. Personalities can undergo remarkable changes due to life events ranging from great success, becoming a parent, trauma or health issues. This can mean using different strategies at different points in a person’s life to maintain a healthy mind and body.
The importance of understanding the major personality types
Social workers, teachers, psychologists, business administrators and others can all benefit from understanding the traits behind choices. If you are in an influential position, you can help people better by finding ways to relate to them and encourage healthier behaviors. An online accelerated MSW program offers classes that encourage in-depth learning about different personalities, so graduates are well prepared to work around a variety of people.
Tips for maintaining good mental health
Take steps to get enough sleep
It is amazing how many people struggle to get a good night’s rest. Not sleeping enough or waking up a lot during the night can severely impact your mental and physical health. While sleeping aids in the form of pills are common for those that are struggling, they have side effects. It is far better to find natural methods to promote sleep.
For many people, stress keeps them up at night, but it is not always that simple. Too much caffeine, nicotine, alcohol or other substances can lead to sleepless nights. Take 20–30 minutes before trying to get to sleep to do something relaxing that does not involve a computer or phone screen. If you like to read, using an e-reader rather than a tablet is helpful because it does not emit blue light, which is known to be disruptive to sleep. A soothing cup of herbal tea containing chamomile is another popular remedy.
Try to clear your mind of stressful thoughts when bedtime approaches. You may select a book that is light rather than the latest crime thriller when choosing reading material for bedtime. For many people, a newspaper or anything dealing with current events is another no-no for restful sleep.
Keep a list of the positive aspects of your life
If something good happens, then write it down. In fact, write down all the good things in your life, including the positive aspects of the people you love. When you are experiencing depressing moments, you can look back on your list and see many good things in your life. This can be particularly helpful if you are trying to combat often being overly pessimistic.
Encourage the other members of your family to keep their own private lists of positivity!
Get enough exercise
It can be challenging to get enough exercise if you have a busy work schedule and lots of other obligations, however, it is important to try. Those that get regular exercise report higher levels of happiness and wellbeing. Finding ways to get exercise with a friend or family may help. Getting out and playing with your kids counts as exercise if it is a physical activity. Taking a family walk or hike encourages good habits for everyone.
There are a lot of free or inexpensive exercise classes available online. Yoga, Pilates, weightlifting, and more can be done with very little monetary investment. These activities are good if the weather is bad, or you struggle fitting an on-site class at a gym into your schedule.
Be honest with yourself when it comes to your strengths and weaknesses
No one is perfect. We all have things we are better at and still other areas that we need to improve on. Being honest about this is important because using your strengths to your advantage can make your life more pleasant and successful. Awareness of weaknesses is a chance for improvement and allows you to reduce the risk of flaws holding you back and impacting your mental outlook.
Do not be afraid to seek out counseling or support from others during hard times
There are times in life when everyone benefits from emotional support. No matter your financial situation, counseling services and support groups are available to help you during hard times. Reaching out to family and friends and keeping busy with social events are excellent ways to get through hard times. The worst thing you can do is close yourself off and try to handle considerable emotional burdens all by yourself.
As individuals, it is important that we remember that none of us are perfect. The best we can do is be aware of our strengths and weaknesses and use them to our advantage. We also need to know when to seek help when dealing with major life-changing events.
Human behavior is no doubt complicated. Even the best psychologist can sometimes struggle to accurately diagnose an individual’s problems and challenges. Understanding common personality traits and human behaviors can help us communicate and live harmoniously with others.