Q&A: Does personality change with age?

Thank you to Tony Winyard from London (UK, not Ontario, Canada) for asking this question on facebook!

The short answer is people often (usually…hopefully?) change with age but generally speaking, their personalities stay basically the same. Ideally, however, as people mature two things happen.

The first is that people who truly grow up as they age learn to live in their strengths and minimize their weaknesses. Often this is intentional. People recognize certain common struggles in personal and/or professional relationships and then make a conscious effort to choose different behavior because they want different results. (Personal example: As a Yellow I often interrupt people. I’m really working on this and hopefully some day I will grow up and have trained myself to be a better listener and a more polite friend.)

The second is that people learn to take on traits of the other personalities. Again this can be deliberate, or as a result of situations changing and people adapting accordingly. For example, the older my father-in-law got, the more relaxed he seemed to become. It wasn’t that he suddenly became a Green after years of being a Red/Blue. But as he got older, he worried less about things being a certain way and valued the time spent with family differently. (Our kids also got older and stopped doing things like bouncing golf balls on his hardwood floors and I’m sure that helped too.)

When I speak, I often talk about my grandmother. She was already in her early 90’s when I earned my CPT and got serious about studying and sharing personalities. Of course, as I studied and researched, I analyzed my friends and family members. And my grandma was pretty hard to figure out.

I mean of course she was Yellow, because she told great stories and could make people laugh and was never bothered by a house full of people. But she kept her house like a Blue, with a place for everything and everything in its place. Every dish and towel and kitchen utensil had its spot, and I’ve never seen anyone that could fold a stack of sheets as perfectly as she could. But really she was a Red. She was a working mom before most moms worked, running the family business alongside my grandpa for as long as I could remember. She raised 5 kids and many of the neighbor kids too. She could cook for a crowd on a moment’s notice and made crocheted afghans for all of her 13 grandchildren, their spouses, and 33 great grandchildren. Oh, but she was Green…people young and old were drawn to her, and everyone felt welcomed and loved in her presence. She never over-reacted, and was as good of a listener as she was a story-teller.

Does it really matter which personality traits came naturally, and which ones she worked at or developed over time? I don’t know….probably not. But I do know, that I hope to grow up to be more and more like her.

4 genrations
Look at that…3 generations of Reds with a true Green matriarch.


Getting Real: Personalities & Painting

My dad is very Blue. Growing up, we learned that there was a proper way to do things. There is a proper way to load a dishwasher…and wash a car…and tackle a painting project. As much as I love color (and hate plain white walls) I dislike painting. This week I realized that my dislike of painting is rooted in personality differences. Let me explain.

While I was speaking in Canada last week, my husband took the opportunity to empty everything out of our office, paint the walls, and install new flooring. It was a huge project, and long over-due. I am very grateful for all the work he put in to making it happen. My husband is a Green/Yellow, and an artist by trade. The walls in my office are now orange and purple. Probably not what I would have chosen, but the color scheme is growing on me. It is fun and different, which appeals to my Yellow side. But it isn’t very practical…says my Red self. Arriving home in the middle of this project was a wee bit stressful too.

My dad, the Blue, taught me that there was indeed a proper way to paint. It involved proper tools, proper preparation, pre-cleaning the surface, tarping and taping everything, lots of tape, applying primer, and having a “paint rag” handy at all times. There were rules about how far into the paint you could dip your brush. There were rules about which area of the room was painted first. There were rules about proper application techniques. There was a system. Being half Red, I could embrace a lot of these rules in the name of efficiency. But mostly, these things were drilled into me and fall into the category of what I call “learned skills.”

This picture perfect painting process that I had witnessed as a child, wasn’t really the reality that I came home last week. I can accept that my Green husband started this project while I was gone because doing it alone was actually going to be easier than having me around telling him that he should be doing it differently. That’s just a part of our reality…and reflects some of my weaknesses that I’m still working on. The added chaos actually came from my independent teenage daughter (also very Red) who decided, in the name of efficiency, that she should paint her bedroom at the same time. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the fact that I was out of the country and not there to remind her that I had specifically asked her to wait until school was over to begin said project so she wasn’t sleeping in the front room when she was supposed to be finishing projects and getting ready for final exams.

But, there is color on walls there were once white. My husband installed beautiful new flooring in the office. My daughter has more pride in her room having invested so much in painting it herself. And her dresser has been moved to cover the big teal paint stain on her carpet. Now if only us Yellows could focus long enough to get everything out of the living room and back where it belongs.