Personality traits come in all shapes and sizes. Your might glean some insight from a four-letter acronym courtesy of Myers-Briggs, or dive deep into numerology with your date of birth, or discover which love language makes your heart flutter. But when we overheard someone tell our 5-foot-6 colleague that she has a “tall personality,” we all paused. Because, yeah, she’s definitely more Blake Lively than Kevin Hart personality-wise—but why?
In order to understand which personality traits give someone a presence that suggests a few extra inches of height, I spoke with Katy Caselli, an organizational psychologist who specializes in personality frameworks. “It’s more of the self-esteem of being tall, or being short,” she says. “We know from research that we tend to have taller presidents, we tend to have taller CEOs, and people who tend to fall more easily into an authority role seem to be taller.” Not all of will reach the height of Abraham Lincoln (6 feet 4 inches) or Michelle Obama (5 feet 11 inches), but Caselli believes we can alter how we present ourselves if we do want our charisma to stretch skyward.
“We know from research that we tend to have taller presidents, we tend to have taller CEOs, and people who tend to fall more easily into an authority role seem to be taller.” —Katy Caselli, organizational psychologist specializing in personality frameworks
“When someone says, ‘Hey, you’ve got a tall personality,’ what they’re actually saying is, ‘You seem like a person who has a naturally tall height and all that brings with it,'” Caselli explains. According to the personality expert, what others truly perceive is (a) high self-esteem and (b) assertiveness. Since we’re taught how our height should affect these two factors from an early age, she tells me, a lot of the work is deprogramming. “People can stick to the roles they grew up with or they can realize where they are and change it,” she says.
To get started, Caselli recommends bringing to mind the accomplishments that make you feel the most like Lincoln, Obama, or another person you admire with some height. “One way people can increase their self-esteem is to simply think of all the ways in which they do have the authority, all the ways they’ve stepped up, all the ways they’ve succeeded,” says Caselli. “They can dwell on their strengths rather than dwell on their weaknesses. That’s a basic step of raising confidence.”
It’s a tall order, but hey, I’ll do anything to become more like First Lady Michelle Obama.
Looking for more confidence content? Check to Iskra Lawrence’s take on feeling awesome in bathing suit. And why one writer wore shorts to the gym instead of leggings in the name of self-esteem.
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