Persona Play Method


Introduction: Personas are the social faces an individual presents to the world and are a kind of mask, designed on the one hand to make a definite impression upon others, and on the other to protect and conceal the true nature of the person (authentic, real self). The overarching (dominant) patterns programmed into your behavioral structure are often called your “personality”. It is important to be aware that personality is designed to give you a strategy to survive your environment and is not all of who you are. Indeed, your essence is much more than the collection of faces you put forward in the world. Your true self is the one that is capable of observing all of the ways you act and behave. For example, lets say you are interacting with someone and notice "wow, I just told that person what they wanted to hear because I wanted to avoid an argument!". That's your true self doing the observing.

But here’s the thing. Most people can sense when you are “in persona” and will feel a little distanced from you as a result. We all use personas to interact because we need to be able to filter experiences and prioritize where we focus. Personas are accepted as social norms (unless overused), but something different happens when we interact in a much more authentic way. When trust exists between people or in a culture, the wall of separation created by personas can drop and everything changes. The bond that forms makes both parties feel “safe” and now their voice is different. Their eye contact and body language is different. Real connection occurs and a real relationship forms.

Why is all of this important? Because becoming aware of it is powerful! When you know yourself well, you have more power and agility to interact in conscious ways. You engage personas when they are necessary and you drop them to engage authentically when you are in the company of your inner circle. If you are in a high trust culture, you can be your true self more of the time. And the more you can be authentic in the workplace, the more real relationships and real work can unfold.

For the highest degree of agility, you will want to be able to strengthen aspects of your personality through character strengths on the Tilt graph. A persona that is counterproductive will be one that is overused and exaggerated in order to protect your true self. On Tilt this requires looking at the six polarities. If you don’t have balance on a polarity, then it’s clear that the one you overuse if the one that will stop you from being real. If you have a score in the red or orange range on your Tilt graph, then you can bet that you need to strengthen a persona.

Persona play is fun. Just make up a personality name of your own that is similar to the one on the Persona Map and begin to play the part to grow strength in a weak area. You might play this up over as long as a year to ramp up it’s power and loosen the grip of the other persona in the polarity.

For example: One of the polarities on the Tilt framework is Likability versus Integrity. Which side of the polarity do you seem to favor? Are you more apt to try to be likable at the expense of doing the precise right thing? Or do you lean toward Integrity and err on the side of doing the right thing even if people won’t like you for it? If you lean too far one way or the other to an extreme or too frequently, this can cause problems in your interactions with others and/or consequences for you that are not desirable. In order to ramp up the side that is weaker in you, create a fun persona and play the part for a few months until it grows more comfortable. Like wearing new shoes, it may feel awkward at first, but will become part of your repertoire before long. Your friends may not like the change at first either, because you are changing what they can expect from you. Stay the course. This serves to strengthen your agility and eventually you will be able to move to either side of the polarity with authenticity and ease when the context calls for it.

How to expand on the agility of your personality: Download the Tiltology Persona Map below and identify one that is troublesome and producing negative consequences for you. Then trace your way to the opposite side of the map and find a persona that may balance it out. Have some fun with the persona name and make it your own. Then imagine what this persona may look like and start playing the role in an exaggerated way for a while with people you know well and trust. Tell them you are trying to balance out a trait in your personality and ask for their support. For example, let's say you tend to overuse approval seeking in order to be Liked. (Erring on the side of Likability on the example above). This gets you into trouble because people pleasing behavior actually causes you to give up your own integrity to what you truly believe on a deeper level. In short, the "pleaser" or "charmer" persona causes you to betray yourself and what you really want in favor of getting approval and this feels yucky to you and them! Get back into balance by choosing to guard your own values and by being fair to yourself. A variation of the personas on the opposite side of the model will help. Becoming the judge and guardian of what matters most to your own values may need to be exaggerated and played out for a while in order to give you a sense of what life can be like if you honor and value yourself equally with others. This persona can guard against you putting others above you and considering their needs more important than your own. Put some balance and equity into your life and voila! All the sudden they like you better too!

Download the and have fun playing out the characters that will balance your identity. Choose one every few months and stay with it until it becomes an authentic part of who you are naturally.


Copyright 2012-2015, All rights reserved by Tilt, Inc.
Authored by Pam Boney
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The TiltologyWiki Team