It’s really all about people. Your ability to relate to people is not only instrumental in determining the scope and quality of your connections, but it’s also critical to feeling good about yourself and maintaining a high level of success in your work and your life.
And that ability, in turn, depends largely on your personal characteristics: the various, deep-seated traits that help define who you are as an individual.
Here are some important personal characteristics you’d do well to cultivate:
Too much desire for rank, power, fame, wealth, or other forms of success can create problems for you and those around you, but too little is also undesirable. The “sweet spot” for ambition hovers around wanting to improve the skills, knowledge, and talents that are important to you without allowing that desire to dominate your life or drive out other values, like honesty, fairness, friendship, or love.
This reflects the level of your desire to do the right thing, and in general to be responsible, hard-working, goal-oriented, and reliable. People are willing to trust a conscientious person, and that trust nearly always helps establish solid, long-lasting relationships.
Your eagerness to investigate and learn new things is a defining characteristic that leads to cumulative growth and adds an enduring level of freshness to your thoughts, conversation, and actions. It’s hard to feel too much curiosity. Too little, however, will leave you boring to others and far less able to cope with today’s rapid pace of change.
This is an overall positive feeling of contentment that leads to an optimistic attitude toward the future. Happy people tend to feel better about themselves and their situation. They may even live longer. They accept losses and setbacks with more equanimity, while feeling better about taking prudent risks and trying new things. Their happiness often spread to others around them.
Most people have a “set point” of energy to which they habitually return, despite monthly, weekly, daily, and even hourly fluctuations. The higher your energy “set point,” the more tasks, plans, and goals you tend to attempt – and accomplish.
The way you behave when no one is looking is a highly significant characteristic that nearly always communicates itself to the people who know you. People who exhibit more honesty tend to engender more trust from others. This extra trust quite often results in them being rewarded with more and better opportunities, resources, and support.
A person’s baseline level of warmth toward others greatly influences how much other people enjoy spending time with that person. Since people generally respond in kind, a warm person usually finds a welcoming reception from others, as well as a greater willingness to cooperate.
An eagerness to participate in and enjoy various experiences tends to be infectious. That is, one person’s enthusiasm frequently rubs off on others, leading them to enjoy the experience more than they otherwise would. For this reason, an enthusiastic person tends to kick up the level of excitement and enjoyment for everyone involved.
The desire to take action toward a goal has a tremendous impact on one’s own level of achievement, and that of others, too. People inherently respect a high level of motivation, and often feel drawn along with the motivated person.
It costs very little time or effort to say “please” and “thank you,” or to treat others with respect and consideration. This is why the willingness (or unwillingness) to behave politely says a great deal about each of us, and is an important basis on which other people “read” who we are and what kind of relationship they want to have with us.
This is one of the few characteristics you can’t coach. But you can make use of all the intelligence you’ve been given. For example, you can use proven study techniques to learn and remember as much as possible of what you encounter and experience. You can listen attentively when other people – particularly experts – talk. And you can think long and hard before you say or do anything that seems like it might have an important impact on your work or your life.
While no one can deny that each of us is born with a proclivity toward a certain kind of personality, it’s equally true that we have the ability to “work on ourselves” in order to upgrade these and other personal characteristics, and thereby improve who we are and how well we get on in this world.
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