Human characteristics are said to be good in some environments and bad in others. If we translate this to business, the consequences will be stronger. Some features can cost their owners, and some can create benefits. When there is a crisis, these costs and benefits escalate naturally. Some characteristics are the clear “winning tickets” in each period, and there are always clear “losing tickets” as well. If we were to rank the “Top Losing Tickets of 2021”, then superficiality would be at the top of the list!
The two sides of the coin
Each feature has its advantages and disadvantages. It should be noted that if we display a certain characteristic, it dominates both sides of the coin. Of course, as fallible people, we tend to notice and emphasise the positive side, but we loosely skip over the negatives that come with it. It is also worth clarifying right away that there is no perfect person, even if many want to become one. We can force and enforce a package of qualities, and we must also accept the negatives that come with it. If qualities are also our personality traits, the sooner we accept them, the happier our lives will be. If they are part of our behaviour, but not part of our personality traits, we can decide how long we want to live with them. What is the difference between a personality and behaviour trait? An in-depth summary of psychological studies could answer this, but to put it simply: our personalities are enduring, develop in our childhood, and accompany us throughout our lives, so the traits that come from our personalities remain with us forever, according to state-of-the-art psychological studies. Qualities that are perceptible in our behaviours but that do not belong to our personalities were “picked up” as masks because we thought we could have an easier life with them; we thought we could be more successful and happier with them in our possession. We may even do this inadvertently, subconsciously, but we still do it. It is easier to understand these processes through examples, and so building on the topic of superficiality, let’s dive deeper into this particular feature. Superficiality is a trait of people who are impulsive, very dynamic, proactive, and capable of quick reactions. They are in constant motion; they usually build new relationships very well. They are bold, influential risk-takers, and the list could go on. Yes, these seem like valuable qualities not only in business but in one’s personal life as well, right? But in the psychological system, there is another side of the coin: these people are capable of immediate, proactive reactions precisely because they do not rethink their responses sufficiently. The faster they are, the more superficial, so they cannot analyse at an appropriate depth at such a rapid pace. But if there is no analysis during an evaluation, you cannot help but be superficial. It is debatable how superficial a reaction really is, but it can be foolish to indulge this superficiality. This is the personality side of superficiality. When can superficiality become part of our behaviour? If a person who carries the superficiality trait also does not want to put the work in to change this feature? Why wouldn’t they want to? Are they stupid? No, on the contrary! They might be brilliant! After all, they may know that being more deliberate will slow them down, they will lose their proactivity and dynamism, which may not be the best way to succeed, and it is definitely the wrong way to live a happy life.
So, who displays superficiality in their behaviour but not in their personality? Those who at their core want stability, constant analysis, and development. Those who are maximalists and do not like to make mistakes. Those who think in systems, who think logically, factually, and are not captivated by emotions. But because of this, they can be slow, cumbersome, unable to react to unexpected situations, their problem-solving abilities are not very good, and this list also goes on. In other words, if a given person received a lot of “slaps” from life due to a lack of proactivity, they might start working to be faster, more reactive, and of course, the mistakes emerge because they became superficial. Was it worth changing? That is a matter of personal judgment. In the long run, that state is certainly not sustainable, because, with a modified personality, our lives will not be successful and happy. We play a role, and even if we feel good at the moment, a part that isn’t tailored to us makes us tense, leading to stress. However, stress has serious long-term consequences for careers, private lives, and health. There are countless psychological development theories, but unfortunately, most of them still suggest incorporating a particular character trait that is completely distant from us into our personalities to further our short-term goals. They just forget that these masks easily stick to a person’s personality and become barriers to real success.
What should I do now?
So, what about superficiality in 2021? This is a feature that is unacceptable during COVID or for a good while after that. People want security and perfect conditions on all fronts. Factors such as reliability, security, awareness, and professionalism have come to the fore in business, private, sport, and education. However, superficiality is the perfect opposite of these in some ways. But then what should one do if superficiality is an integral part of their personality? After all, if they change it, it will create stress, and if they don’t, they will not be part of the successful group in the years to come. Would it be such a great sin to suppress a trait in the name of success? No! This is what intelligent people do. They adapt to external expectations. True, they cannot display their true personalities, but if certain periods require it, they pick up a new personality trait and apply it for a while. If they are smart enough, however, they will never believe that they have the winning ticket. As soon as the first little “relaxation” comes, such tickets fade away as if they had never been with us. That is, if you consider yourself to be a proactive, dynamic person capable of immediate reactions, you should very much consider the extent to which you are willing to be superficial! And if you are already confronting the consequences, you should set up a specific plan for how you will improve on that in a given period. Yes, be aware that you will not like the fact that you have to review an email or document several times. Nor will you be sympathetic to the fact that you can’t make bold statements right away — statements that will “dazzle” the audience — because now everyone will be looking for details! Even the most superficial people, in fact! Is this all unfair? Does it matter? This is the reality. Really successful people are not that way because they have perfect personalities that make them fantastically effective in all circumstances. But mostly because they have healthy self-knowledge, and if they value themselves, they pay consistent attention to their personality traits that have failed over time. Those are eliminated and replaced with winning tickets. And most importantly: they always remember that they did this consciously!