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Innovation Insights by Stephen Shapiro

I lived in London for 4 years. I found the British to be a bit more proper and reserved than the typical outgoing American. In an effort to explain the differences between these two cultures, I sometimes use my favorite dessert metaphor: chocolate.

The British are like M&Ms. Their tough outer coating (“stiff upper lip”) hides a richness and depth. Although it may take a little longer to get to know a Brit, once you do, you get to know them profoundly. That’s why many remain close friends even after many years and great distance.

Americans are more like chocolate covered peanuts. Although we are known for being friendly, sometimes getting through our tough inner core – and getting deeply connected – may be a bit more difficult.

Of course these are generalizations. Everyone is an individual. But it can be interesting (and fun) to consider which chocolate treat best represents YOUR personality.

Are you an M&M with a protective layer that covers a lust for intimacy? If so, you probably make a great friend. However, you might find that letting your guard down from time to time will enable you to connect better with others on first impression. A key to living goal-free is becoming a people magnet. If you are perceived as standoffish or protective, attracting others into your life may be a challenge.

Are you a chocolate covered peanut, showing the world your outermost social layers, only to hide your inner-most feelings? If so, you are probably a good people magnet. You might even be the life of the party. But you may also find deep relationships more difficult. This may serve you fine in the short term. But you may find that over the long run, you feel something (or someone) is missing from you life.

Are you a peanut M&M, hard on the outside and hard on the inside, with only a small layer where you let people in? This is not an ideal personality style for every day living, unless you truly prefer solitude – or should I say being alone. However, everyone goes through a peanut M&M mood from time to time. I get grumpy and want to be left alone. This is fine. But if you are like this all of time, you won’t be just goal-free, you’ll also be friend-free.

Are you a chocolate covered raisin; a total mush-ball through and through. This can be a great personality style. You attract AND retain relationships. You can be both a great friend and the life of the party. But remember, there is a time and place for exposing your soft inner core and vulnerabilities. If you are too open, you may sometimes scare people away.

Of course this is not a scientific study of personalities; it is primarily intended to be fun. However, this may shed light on why your relationship are the way they are.

Regardless, a recent study found that chocolate contains more than 300 chemicals that can both induce relaxation and elevate your mood. So go ahead and enjoy some chocolate. Doing so will have you care more about the candy in your mouth than the candy that matches your personality.

P.S. If you want to determine your personality style, be sure to check out Personality Poker.

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