Developing a Character Sketch or Identity Sketch can be a useful exercise from many points of view which will be discussed in this article. The important thing to remember is that we are the product of our experiences. They are what makes us who we are. Everyone has a back story, but we don’t often make allowances for the back stories of others when making judgements. Have you ever been in the position where you found that you had misjudged someone once you became aware of more information?
First of all, from now on we will refer to the subject as a Character Sketch for simplicity, but it is also known by the term of Identity Sketch. But what is a Character Sketch. Simply put it is a document of perhaps one page in length that provides details about who and what you are, your strengths and weaknesses, personal values and what makes you unique.
Why Complete A Character Sketch
Reasons vary, but there are several to consider, the first being self reflection. Have you ever been told that it’s time to have a good hard look at yourself? Well a character sketch is a great way of doing this. Taking time out to perform an honest self appraisal can help you become a better version of who you already are and that is something worth aspiring to for all of us.
Another reason might be team building or communication of who you are to others. Some leadership programs have a session where participants deliver an “About Me” session that is an insight into themselves. The depth that people choose to go to is up to them of course, but such sessions usually change opinions and make people have a greater understanding and appreciation of the person delivering the presentation.
The bottom line however is that whatever the reason you are writing the character sketch it should provide a very clear overview of who you are as a person. Improving your own understanding of yourself can inform better decisions and also enhance your relationship with others.
How to Complete Your Character Sketch
Here is a suggested outline of headings that you can use. Obviously you can add or subtract to make it your personal document. Take your time in completing it as well. There is no rush and it often helps to let things simmer away in your sub-conscious before documenting them.
- Provide a brief introduction of yourself and your background. This could include birth year and a work history in narrative form. Try to avoid a list.
- Include a list of your top four to six core values and beliefs. (You can use a free survey at Personal Values Assessment | Discover Your Values to find out the most important.)
- How do these values influence your decisions and behaviors?
- What do you perceive as your strengths? (Link to help is below this outline)
- You can expand on the strengths with examples of simply how they impact on your life
- What are your perceived weaknesses? This is the tough one where openness and honesty is required. (Link to help is below this outline)
- You could expand on how you are working on these weaknesses. Acknowledging them demonstrates courage on your part for a start.
- Describe your communication style when dealing with others. Are you direct, verbose, detailed or to the point? How would others describe your style?
- How do you like to receive feedback? How you give feedback to others? This can also refer to your conflict management style.
- How do you approach your work? Are you full of passion? Are tasks more important than people? Where is your balance?
- What productivity strategies have you in place for organising and managing your tasks.
Interests and Hobbies
- What do you enjoy doing outside of work? What is the other side of you that people may not see?
- Can you describe how these activities influence your personal and professional life?
- What are the key issues and takeaways from your character sketch?
- Is there anything else others should know about you that would help them to understand you and interact with you at a higher level?
There is plenty of information at Personal Strengths Defined to assist you on identifying your strengths and weaknesses.
A Note on Vulnerability
Providing a character sketch to others can put you in a position of vulnerability, particularly in relationship to what you have identified as weaknesses. Generally speaking, people respond well to honesty and would not abuse the sharing of such information. That said, it is probably wise to consider the circumstances in which you choose to share the information. In a group session, one good question you might consider asking is, “What can I do differently to improve some of my perceived weaknesses?”. People really love to help others and you may get some very good ideas to take away and ponder.
A character sketch is a great opportunity for exercising your inner self and considering who you think you really are. It can be quite cathartic but will change over time as you deal with perceived weaknesses, grow your strengths or find new ones. As a team building or training exercise, they can be invaluable with all involved recognising that nobody is perfect and we all have issues we are grappling with on a daily basis.