Nicer as we get older?


I like to quip that some people apparently read inscriptions in their high school yearbooks that said, “Don’t ever change! Stay the way you are!,” and decided to take those words very seriously for a long time! Although personal growth and development can be a potentially lifelong process, you do run into people who seemingly opted to lock in, umm, earlier than later. Believe it or not, I’ve even witnessed this in academe!

Fortunately, most of us aren’t wired to set ourselves in stone. In fact, psychologist Christopher Soto (Colby College), in a piece for National Public Radio, notes that “…while personality traits are relatively stable over time, they can and often do gradually change across the life span,” and in a good direction, too:

What’s more, those changes are usually for the better. Many studies, including some of my own, show that most adults become more agreeable, conscientious and emotionally resilient as they age. But these changes tend to unfold across years or decades, rather than days or weeks. Sudden, dramatic changes in personality are rare.

As Prof. Soto further explains, “…personality traits clearly influence people’s lives in important ways and help explain why two people in similar circumstances often end up with different outcomes.” And they certainly matter to anyone who interacts with us.

Forgive me if I’m sounding greedy, but is it too much to ask for our improved personality traits to enter our workplaces, as well? A workplace filled with more agreeable, conscientious, and emotionally resilient people sounds like a pretty good deal.

One response

  1. I talked about this in a toast I gave at my brother’s wedding — he is 65 and she is 69. There had been a few negative people bemoaning that they had moved too fast, so in my toast I pointed out how the older we get, specifically over the age of 60, a certain wisdom has amalgamated within and younger adults simply do not have. This goes along with the fact that personalities get better or soften over the years.

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