Have you ever used the term ‘chameleon’ to describe a person? Many times I hear people say that they can’t trust a certain person because he/she is a chameleon. Obviously, we know the meaning of this. it means that the person is never the same. He changes his colours just like a chameleon. His attitudes and personality changes with the situations. But this trait have a positive or a negative effect? That’s debatable.
In psychology, this trait of changing colours can be termed as self monitoring. In very general terms, self monitoring refers to an individual’s ability to adjust his/her behaviour to situational factors. But does this trait helps?
Let’s see this with an example. A boy from a rural area, with an orthodox mindset, enters the city of dreams – Mumbai to pursue his career in media industry. Now, it is obvious that the environment there is not comfortable for him. But does this means that he should leave his job and quit? If he is able to adjust to this environment or in other words, ‘change his innate colours’ , then he will not loose hi job and he will be able to excel in his career. This will represent his high self monitoring abilities. On the other hand, if he is stubborn and he doesn’t change his mindset and attitude then he will not be able to adjust and unfortunately his job will be lost. So here we can see that being a high self monitor can be a much better option. But does being a high self monitor in every situation and aspect of life always results in success? According to me, the answer is no.
Lets take another example. This same boy is friends with two people who have extremely opposite personalities. Now to adjust with one, he has to go against the another. So he changes his opinions according to the person he is with. Now, his image in everyone’s mind will be of a person who can anytime, anywhere change his opinion and behaviour and therefore, he can’t be trusted.
So now we know that as every coin has two sides, there are pros and cons of being a high self monitor. I believe that being a high self monitor ofcourse has its advantages but this trait should be used according to the people and situations. You should be a low self monitor (i.e. displaying your true dispositions and attitude in every situation) in front of your family, friends and near&dear ones. Also in an organization, high self monitoring traits should be used to adjust to the dynamic environment and not for changing your opinion for every other person. It is because you need to maintain a level of trust in these situations.
So my lovely readers, in a nutshell, the ‘ self monitoring trait’ also needs to be monitored. It is because, it can be a very good slave, but a very dangerous master too. 🙂