Eight Characteristics of the Effective Person

With increasing numbers of people being glued to their electronic devices, it is more important than ever that individuals focus on their interpersonal skills so that they can effectively interact with others when they do have a “real” encounter.

The importance of effective communication has been shown to be critical and has been researched over the years, with some qualities being shown to be particularly important. Based on a wealth of research, the following offers eight qualities which seem to be particularly important in developing successful relationships.

Empathy.

The ability to “get into the shoes” of another is probably the most important quality for building and maintaining healthy relationships. This selfless process builds trust by showing others that one is willing to place oneself second to the concerns of another and allows the listener to understand why others act the way they do. Those who are empathic are able to build strong, authentic, and lasting relationships.

Although all of us have the ability to be empathic, those who were brought up in nurturing relationships which fostered an understanding of others will have an easier time putting aside their agendas and be able to hear others. However, with effort, all of us can become better listeners.

Realness.

Although we often don’t like to admit it, we almost always can tell when people are not being real with us. It’s demonstrated by the way they look at us, talk to us, and behave with us. And, when a person is not real with another, the relationship cannot grow and deepen. Only genuine, transparent relationships can have the depth and breathe that develop mutual sharing at deep levels. Realness takes intentionality—a concerted effort at being genuine with the other person. Such conversations are often not easy, but they bring an intensity and honesty to relationships that are a cornerstone of positive mental health.

Acceptance.

Humans develop intricate webs of reality that make sense to them, but not always to others who observe their behaviors. Acceptance is acknowledging the fact that one may not understand the thoughts and behaviors of another, yet knowing that within the other person’s world, his or her thoughts and actions make sense. This knowledge allows one to be empathic and nonjudgmental, despite sometimes disagreeing with what others have done. Such acceptance builds strong, lasting relationships that can develop into mutually empathic and real relationships.

Cross-Cultural Sensitivity.

When individuals have regard for others and are empathic with others, they are naturally cross-culturally sensitive. But cross-cultural sensitivity goes beyond empathy and acceptance, as it also means actively wanting to know about the culture of others. The gaining of such knowledge, whether by asking others about their cultures or discovering about others’ cultures through various resources, allows one to understand individuals more fully. This deeper understanding of another acknowledges an individual’s unique way of living in the world and how that way is associated with the individual’s unique and vibrant culture.

Competence.

Being good at something, whatever it is, helps us feel good about ourselves and builds our self-esteem. Whether it’s academics, sports, cooking, or an obscure hobby, feeling competent helps us believe in ourselves and generally results in a constructive attitude toward life and others. Each of us has unique abilities and qualities, and understanding how those can be used to build self-efficacy is critical if we are going to feel good about ourselves and positively impact others.

Embracing Our Spirituality or Meaningfulness.

Why are we here? What is the meaning of our existence? Why do we do what we do in the world? If we live without a sense of our spirituality or meaningfulness, we will haphazardly live in the world as we have no reason or philosophy that drives us. Lack of a core meaning-making system results in narcissistic and selfish recklessness as individuals make decisions without reflecting on their core philosophical assumptions. Beliefs that drive a positive personal meaning making system, whether religiously-based or founded on some well-thought out philosophy, are always rooted in the Golden Rule—Do unto others as you might want others to do unto you.

Knowing Our “It Factor”—Being Ourselves.

Each of us has a unique way of thinking, acting, and being in the world, but not all of us readily embrace our individuality. Being ourselves means that we are willing to take risks with others—say what we really think, act like we really want to act, and be who we really are. Of course, in a civilized world we cannot do everything we think, feel, and want to do, but we can acknowledge to ourselves all aspects of self, and, in healthy ways, strive to fully be ourselves.

Social Sense.

Because our existence relies on living with civility in what can sometimes be a pretty chaotic world, it is important that each of us understand, be aware, and act in ways that are sensitive to others and the communities in which we live. This manner of co-existence allows us to live with a sense of safety and love as we strive to be ourselves while simultaneously acknowledging and monitoring how we impact others. Like the ripples in a lake that follow after a stone is thrown into it, a social sense means that we have a keen awareness that each action we take affects all others.

These eight characteristics seem to be critical in developing strong, effective relationships—whether it be with a friend, significant other, or colleague. However, one should keep in mind that relationships take work and knowing these qualities will do little if one does not practice them.

Most importantly, each of us should be intentionally empathic, real, accepting, cross-culturally sensitive, competent, have a sense of meaning, embrace our “it factor, and have a social sense if we are to get along with others and have a more peaceful and loving world.

Confidence and Humility – The Dance of the Balanced Ego

Balancing confidence and humility in any relationship, be it personal or professional, is a real skill. The first step is to become aware of what the two are. Author of The Art and Etiquette of Polyamory, Françoise Simpère writes:

“Arrogance…is generally a cover for a chronic lack of self-confidence.To be specific, self-confidence is when one is aware of his or her qualities without falling victim to false modesty. Humility allows one to recognise quietly that even though he or she is a wonderful person, there may be qualities that he or she lacks. An individual with a balanced ego is fully aware of his or her own existence and does not need others to confirm it. He or she is interested in others because of who they are, and not because of a need to see him or herself as a reflection in their admiring eyes.”

Their dictionary definitions are as follows:

confidence: a feeling of self-assurance arising from an appreciation of one’s own abilities or qualities.

humility: the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance.

The key things to note about confidence are:

  1. It’s a feeling, not knowledge, action etc.
  2. It’s about you, not others.
  3. It’s about self-awareness.

So being confident requires awareness of self rather than others, and it needs to be balanced by a sense of modesty. But, as Simpère cautions, not false modesty. So it’s not about feeling unimportant — it’s just about moderating your sense of importance. Particularly in professional relationships, it’s important to see your customer or client as more important than you, while retaining an appreciation of your abilities and qualities, one of which needs to be humility.

Simpère says arrogance is a sign of chronic lack of confidence. I think over-confidence also often shows as arrogance, or at least as a lack of care for and interest in the other person.

The balance of confidence and humility is not static. It’s a dance. You need to keep adjusting your sense of both. So, a balanced ego comes from the inner awareness of how confident or humble it is appropriate to be in any given situation.

Engaging with diversity requires a similar dance. It requires you to be confident in your identity while having the humility to know that there will be aspects of others’ identities that you won’t know. I’ve observed arrogance in people who are both over- and under-confident in their understanding of diversity. A lack of humility stops them asking questions, checking that they’ve got things right and apologising if they haven’t, without getting into guilt or shame.

A balanced ego is an asset to foster in all aspects of life. Get dancing!

Exit mobile version