Some people are a joy to be around. They light up any social gathering, and at work, worries melt away when you discover a team project includes them.
This is usually thanks to their positive personality traits.
These traits influence some to become inspiring leaders, empathetic parents, and thoughtful friends. The key to using these traits for good is to leverage strengths and improve weaknesses.
It’s never too late to improve your personality, either. Scientists have found that personalities change due to age, a significant life event, or persistent discipline.
Becoming a better version of yourself takes work, and facing less agreeable personality traits might be a daunting place to start. First learn about your strengths to leverage these qualities and feel better prepared to tackle weaknesses.
What’s a personality trait?
Personality traits refer to our patterns of thought and behavior. Examples include being open-minded, hot-tempered, easygoing, confident, or nervous.
Roughly 30–60% of our personality traits are inherited — our genetics often dictate how we behave. But personality traits can also be socialized. You might be predisposed to be disorganized but living in a well-organized household could create this behavioral habit in you, for example.
This flexibility is great — you have the power to affect change in yourself and the way you behave isn’t out of your control.
Identifying good qualities in a person
It’s often easier to notice our weaknesses rather than strengths, but learning about your positive characteristics will give you the confidence boost you need to improve on weaknesses.
A great place to start is by identifying your Big Five personality traits score, each being ranked out of 100. A higher score means you express more of this trait, and vice versa.
Agreeableness: This describes someone’s tendency to be trusting, sympathetic, and helpful.
Conscientiousness: People who take their responsibilities seriously, are highly organized, and are dependable, display a high level of this character trait.
Extroversion: Those who naturally gravitate toward and are energized by social interaction are extroverts.
Neuroticism: People who tend toward anxiety and are highly detail-oriented, sometimes to a fault, score higher for this personality trait.
- Openness: This regards how receptive someone is to new experiences and perspectives. These people are often intellectually curious and imaginative.
Every other personality trait fits within these five categories. If you’re 75% agreeable, for example, this also means you’re a more positive person, since positivity is included in agreeableness.
Once you’ve done your Big Five assessment, drill down on specific positive qualities about yourself by creating a positive personality traits list. This list helps you zero in on smaller, more easily manageable traits to work on. Consider doing this with a close friend or loved one to gain their perspective.
Here are some personality trait suggestions to inspire your brainstorming session:
Positive interpersonal traits
These qualities help you get along with others and are vital to your social health.
Positive intellectual traits
Possessing and practicing intellectual qualities helps us engage with and make sense of the world. We assess information better and can critically think about situations to make better decisions.
Positive emotional traits
Emotional personality traits help you better understand and respond to emotions in yourself and others. They’re vital to maintaining a positive outlook and overall well-being.
5 tips for developing positive personality traits
Your personality isn’t carved in stone. With consistent effort and self-awareness, you can habituate the traits you’d most like to exemplify.
Here are some tips to make the process easier:
1. Identify your more challenging characteristics
You’ve already gained some confidence brainstorming your more positive qualities — now’s the time to face your weaknesses. Everyone has a combination of good and bad traits, so don’t let shame hold you back. This process isn’t about self-criticism but noticing where to improve to become the best version of yourself.
Example: You’re impatient and get easily irritated when people make mistakes.
2. Decide what quality you’d like to change
Once you have your list, choose a trait you’d like to focus on improving. Focus on smaller, more easily adjusted traits that contribute to larger ones. If you’re wanting to improve your agreeableness, you might begin by becoming more easygoing, for example.
Example: You want to improve your temper within a set time frame.
3. Incorporate positive behaviors and practices
The best way to improve a negative characteristic is to practice its opposite. If you’re impatient, look to patient individuals to see what they do when things move slowly or what practices they incorporate into their lives.
Ask them, “How do you remain so calm when traffic’s bad or a line’s taking forever?” You can also ask yourself “What would I do in this scenario if I were the most patient version of myself?”
Research habits and practices that improve these positive characteristics. Regarding patience, you might take up calming practices like yoga, meditation, or journaling to remind yourself to slow down and appreciate the moment.
Example: When you feel irritated, take 10 deep breaths. If that doesn’t always work, find an anger management book about other calming strategies.
4. Find a mentor
Changing your personality is challenging work that often requires outside support. Ask someone who exhibits the characteristics you want to develop for advice. This could be a coach or a friend or partner you trust. They’ll teach and encourage you while holding you accountable to your goals.
Example: If you’re having issues coping with your temper, attend anger management training that pairs you with a buddy who’s been through the program to provide support.
5. Keep going
Personal growth doesn’t happen overnight. It takes about 66 days to form a new habit, so practice having a growth mindset to remember that improvement is a long-term goal.
Don’t let mistakes discourage you. The fact that you’re putting in the hard work to better yourself is remarkable enough — let yourself be human by accepting your faults and embracing failure. This builds resiliency to keep you moving toward your goals.
Example: If, despite your efforts to become more patient, you lose your temper with a coworker, try not to self-criticize but rather react to the situation with good character and move forward to keep building the habit of patience.
You can do this by apologizing to your teammate, brainstorming ways to improve your self-discipline, and recommitting to maintaining your composure.
The hard work’s worth it
Congratulations on looking within, learning more about yourself, and picking out traits you’d like to improve. That takes courage, but the personal growth is worth it.
You’ll transform toxic characteristics into positive personality traits that improve your mental health and boost your self-esteem. It takes time, effort, and support, but it’s doable. You just need to start.