What does it even mean to have no personality?
How can a person have no personality?
Personality is the sum total of your genetics and life experiences. It includes everything about you- from your looks to your values. Thus, everyone has a personality. There isn’t a single person on earth you can say nothing about.
If you can say something about someone, they have a personality.
When people say they feel like they have no personality, what they mean is that they don’t have much of a personality. They have very little personality.
Similarly, accusing someone of having no personality means they lack personality. Not that they have zero personality, which is impossible. Saying someone has no personality at all is an exaggeration used for effect. It’s like saying your dish has no salt when it has very low amounts of salt.
No personality vs. A lot of personality
Basically, the more that can be said about you, the more personality you have. If I meet you but don’t talk to you, I have limited information about you. You don’t have much of a personality for me.
But those who know you, know more and are likely to think you have a lot of personality.
That’s what it comes down to- how much information you reveal about yourself.
But there’s more to it.
The first stage of having a lot of personality is to reveal more of yourself- your opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. This first stage is all about expression- the expression of opinions and emotions. The more you express, the more personality you have.
The less you express, the less personality others will think you have.
However, once you’ve expressed yourself, you could still come across as someone with no personality. This happens when who you are is nothing unique and memorable. You’re like everyone else. Your opinions, preferences, and emotional reactions are standard.
When your personality doesn’t stand out from the crowd, you seem to be lacking personality. So, the second stage of having a lot of personality is having a unique personality.
College professor vs. Talk show host
Most college professors are typical examples of people with no personality. They give lectures in a dull, monotonous tone and hardly express their emotions about their subject matter. No wonder people prefer to learn from YouTube.
They’re on one end of the spectrum of the amount of personality. On the other end, we have highly charismatic and bubbly TV show hosts bubbling with expressions and emotions.
Guess which personality is more likable of the two?
Of course, it’s the talk show host. You can’t have a good talk show without the host being charismatic. No one would watch that show.
Your tribe matters too
How valuable your tribe sees you is a crucial factor that adds to your personality. The talk show host’s audience is the general public, especially people who care about celebrities.
You may be someone who couldn’t care less about celebrities but are interested in the types of succulents your botanist friend talks about. To you, your botanist friend is more interesting than any talk show host.
But that botanist friend of yours may still lack personality because the way he communicates and expresses himself lacks charisma. You may even grow to hate botany if you spend too much time with him. They could ruin botany for you.
On the other hand, even the most boring topics can become interesting when talked about in a charismatic manner.
Signs you have no personality
Let’s dive into the key signs that show you have no personality. If you see most of these in yourself, you should only be concerned if your lack of personality interferes with your important life goals. Then you can go ahead and upgrade your personality.
1. You hardly express your opinions
There are two possibilities: either you don’t have any opinions, or you do but don’t express them. You can fix the former issue by gaining knowledge about the things you care about or catching up with the latest trends. The more information you have about a topic, the more opinionated you get about it.
There can be a multitude of reasons why you don’t express your opinions. Some of those reasons could be legit. Maybe you’re surrounded by closed-minded people who’re closed to your ideas.
But the fact is, if you don’t express your opinion about anything, people will think you stand for nothing. They’ll think you have no personality.
Opinions, especially strong opinions, often make you look stronger as a person. Someone who knows what they’re talking about. Someone who has good reasons to believe what they believe.
2. You don’t express your emotions
When you express your emotions, it humanizes you. You come across as authentic. You give people a chance to connect with you at a deeper level. If people can relate to your emotions, they’ll like you. They’ll like you for being honest with your emotions, even if they can’t relate to you.
When you don’t express any emotions, you seem less of a human. There’s no difference between you and a robot. Like a robot, you have no personality.
3. You’re highly agreeable
Agreeableness is precisely what it sounds like- agreeing to everything. Highly agreeable people agree to everything. They say ‘Yes’ even when they want to say ‘No’. They lack assertiveness and do what they can to avoid conflict.
Agreeableness stems from the need to be nice and fit in. But it can backfire. If you’re too agreeable, it means you have no mind of your own. You have no preferences of your own. You don’t value yourself.
Like water, you take the shape of whatever cup that holds you. Your opinions are other people’s opinions, your values their values.
4. You’re a people pleaser
This sign is closely related to the previous one. If you’re a people-pleaser, you’re like 90% of the people out there. When you’re like 90% of the people, you can’t expect to have a unique personality.
As with agreeableness, behind people-pleasing lies a fear of conflict and the desire to be accepted.
5. You fear rejection
If your opinions, likes, and dislikes deviate too much from the crowd, you risk getting rejected and ostracized by the crowd. Fear of rejection is intense because we all want to be accepted by our groups. But fearing rejection can also be the road to mediocrity and having no personality.
6. You’re a reserved person
If you’re a private person, most people simply don’t have enough information about you to think much of you. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Maybe you don’t want them to think much of you.
As long as you share who you are with the few people you care about, you’ll be good.
7. You lack principles and values
People with solid principles and values behave consistently across situations. If they believe in honesty, they’ll be honest no matter what.
When you’re clear about your values and tell people about them, your personality has a strong foundation. People know who you are and what you stand for.
If you have no clear values and keep changing yourself to fit what you’re presented with, people have difficulty understanding you. You seem to behave inconsistently and have no personality whatsoever.
Personality is all about stable, consistent traits.
8. You have a lopsided identity
What do I mean by having a lopsided identity?
It’s when your identity is over-reliant on one or two factors. A boring college professor’s identity is over-reliant on ‘being an intellectual’. Someone who plays video games all day thinks of himself as ‘a gamer’.
The problem with having such lopsided identities is that they close you to new experiences. You’re hardly anything more than ‘an intellectual’ or ‘a gamer’. Your personality has been restricted. When your personality is restricted, you feel like you have no personality and, often, no life.
My teacher’s advice
When I was in school, a teacher I liked told me I was too shy and reserved. That I needed to come out of my shell. Taking her advice seriously, I did. Over the next couple of years, I came out of my shell.
I expressed myself more, had no filter and said what I wanted to say. Did what I felt like doing. It was a lot of fun.
It got to a point where I was starting to become a nuisance. I created a lot of mischief. Fun for my friends and me, but not so fun for the teachers.
Then one day, the same teacher called me and said:
“You’ve come out of your shell too much.”
I didn’t know there was a thing as coming out of your shell too much. To my young mind, you were either in a shell or out of it.
I now recognize the wisdom in her words. As with everything else in life, it’s all about balance. You want to strike a balance between your inner college professor and talk show host.
Hi, I’m Hanan Parvez (MBA, MA Psychology), founder and author of PsychMechanics. I’ve published one book and authored 400+ articles on this blog (started in 2014) that have garnered over 4.5 million views. PsychMechanics has been featured in Forbes, Business Insider, Reader’s Digest, and Entrepreneur. Feel free to contact me if you have a query.