The best predictor of a person’s future behavior is his or her past behavior.
We all heard that saying, “we are creatures of our habits”. If we look at ourselves or others in terms of the ways in which we might act in various situations, and then look at how we have acted in those situations in previous times, it becomes obvious that we tend to repeat certain styles of actions and reactions.
If a person has a tendency to interrupt when someone else is speaking, we can expect that he or she will regularly interrupt conversations with other people. If the tendency is to begin yelling when the person feels unheard or ignored, then the best prediction about that person in other situations in which he or she may feel similarly is that the person’s reaction will be with yelling before doing something different. If a person tends to react to stress by drinking or smoking, then that is the most probable reaction the next time stress is encountered.
Frequently, we call these predictable reactions our personality traits, and as we get to know people we learn about them through their recurring traits and even become able to predict their behaviors in various situations. Sometimes our traits are very effective and helpful and sometimes they are self-defeating. As in all cases of human behavior, the best thing each of us can do is to keep an open eye and mind to the way we react to things by habit and make efforts to change those tendencies or traits that aren’t helpful to ease the problems of our lives.
On the other hand, we should remember that the best way to understand another person is to be aware of their ways of reacting in situations so that we can anticipate how they may react in the future despite what they may want to convince us of about themselves.
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