The author examines the changes in her personality that have emerged as a result of owning a business (not as scary as it may sound!)
I was driving home the other day and my thoughts had drifted to events that happened a couple of years ago when the oddest realization struck me. I was reminded of a particularly tense situation where I avoided a conflict and kept to myself and let it all ride. I realised that generally when it came to conflict, I had an avoidant personality.
So how did that all change? I had all but completely forgotten about that particular personality trait of mine. Over the past two years it seems I have slowly evolved without realizing it. Is that a good thing? I don’t know, I haven’t figured that out yet.
When I was in university, I took a course titled Conflict Negotiation, and one of the first things we did in that module was take a well-established personality test to gage our response to conflict. I was overwhelmingly avoidant, perhaps around 83% and the test results further established that fact to myself. Mind you, I wasn’t an introvert or a doormat. But when it came to conflicts, I usually preferred to not get involved in something that would create drama. If someone was taking advantage of me, I gently deflected the situation or just stopped actively interacting with that person.
But now, with a business to run that has all slowly changed, if I sense that my staff members are slacking for no valid reason or if I feel that another company we are working with isn’t giving us its optimal service, then I call it out without hesitation. I state my concerns, my reasons, and what needs to be done to rectify the situation.
Has this made me more assertive or more annoying? I don’t know. I would (obviously) like to think that my personality has evolved to where I have developed a no-nonsense attitude. My time is precious and so are the rest of my resources.
Up until I started Spontiphoria, I was a student and the only thing that really mattered was my academic performance. That was something I had total direct influence over (except when we worked in group projects but that is something for a whole other article altogether). Nobody’s words affected me and their actions didn’t matter much. This, however, is different. This feels like ‘real-life’; success, failure, profit, loss, performance, efficiency, reputation, etc…this is something that can’t be taken lightly or tampered with.
With this increased ‘assertiveness’, if that’s what you want to call it, also comes risks. It comes with the risk of developing an easily-provoked personality, and the risk of being known (or feared) for that. It’s a tough balance, but one that is imperative to find.
It’s interesting for me how a degree in conflict studies didn’t change my avoidant personality but how running a business did. The course not changing my personality should be a good thing, though, because it was all about dealing with conflict in healthy ways and preventing it in the first place. Running a business is very much like having a child. You develop a similar protectiveness (although not to the same degree) which will obviously necessitate some changes in your personality. The key to this change is being aware of it. And for me, I hope I didn’t realize it too far down along the road.