Identity thieves beware – the chances are you give yourself away online much more easily than you think. We exhibit our personalities through the very words we choose and so the kind of words we use online are deeply rooted to our personality type. Trying to change the words you use to alter your online persona doesn’t really work – the true you comes shining through all the time.
For years we have known that the speech patterns of individuals are directly related to the major personality types. The way you chat with people gives the game away as to whether you are outgoing, introverted, collaborative and so on. Even though there is plenty of academic debate as to the psychological basis of personality and whether or not the various “types” are actually a true reflection of what is happening in our brains, there is little argument that we all perceive various “kinds” of people. And the words we choose to say appear to be a reflection of the kind of person we are.
Now, a new study of almost 700 bloggers has revealed that the words we write are also linked directly to our personality type. The University of Colorado researchers have found that the average number of words written over the past two years by each of these bloggers is 115,000 (i.e. the same as around two to three non-fiction books). And those words are matched directly to the personality type of the blogger. In other words, what you write is a true reflection of your real self.
For online businesses this is important. It suggests that even if you attempt to be business-like in your blog, even if you try to “write proper” or even if you attempt to be some other persona, the truth will out…! Your choice of words will demonstrate your personality. It means you are wasting your time and effort if you try to “hide” behind some kind of “alternative personality” for your business. The true individual will shine through.
What this all suggests is that being yourself is the best strategy. It’s also the easiest – presenting an additional persona in your business life is really difficult. Who are you today? How does the “business me” say that or do that? Gosh it is all so blooming complicated..! Far easier to be YOU..! And this new research implies that no matter how hard you try, your readers will be able to get the measure of the real you anyway because of your natural choice of words in your online musings.
There is another advantage to all this. In the increasingly socially-networked world we now live in, people want to connect to real people, not fabrications. So, the real you will win through.
That means writing articles and blogs the way YOU would say them. Forget the grammar police. Just write it as you would say it. That way your material will be more natural, it will read better and it will truly reflect the real you. Writing online in a business-like way to try and make you sound more professional, for instance, only makes it more difficult for you. This new study confirms that underlying everything you write, the real you is struggling to come out. So break off those shackles of formal, business writing – let yourself free….!
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+