From Good to Great: Five Traits that Can Make You Great!
by Jamie Spannhake
January 04, 2020
What makes a great person? Is it intelligence, good people skills, effective communication? Of course, we must have a certain level of intelligence and motivation, along with experience and opportunities, to live the lives we want personally and professionally. But the truth is, the traits that transform a good person into a great person may not be the ones you think.
Here are five traits that make a person stand above the rest. Cultivating these traits provides the opportunity to really understand the others and live a life that we feel is successful.
Compassion is an emotional response whereby one perceives another’s problem and authentically, genuinely wants to help resolve the problem. This is part of what people do: People sometimes come to us with their problems, or to avoid future problems, and we help resolve or avoid the issues, whichever the case may be. Especially our family members and in our careers. If your career is not particularly “emotional,” you may not think that compassion is important to your professional life. But it is. The compassionate worker focuses on how others feel and is accepting of their perspective, whether or not she ultimately agrees with it.
Compassion is the foundation for good people skills. Without compassion, you cannot put yourself in your another's shoes or fully understand their problems. Without compassion, you cannot understand another's position, anticipate what he will do, and take pre-emptive steps to resolve a potential issue. Without it, you cannot provide the best solutions to life's problems.
2. Ability to Listen
Effective communication skills are essential to good relationships. One of the most important aspects of communication is listening. Of course, what we say, how we say it and when we say it are important. But we can only do it right if we listen first. Listen to your family. Listen to your colleagues, and really listen to the people who you are sure are wrong. We must take in much information, analyze and synthesize it, and exercise good judgment to provide live enjoyable lives. It starts with listening.
3. Assertiveness, Not Aggressiveness
I often hear people say, “She’s not aggressive enough to be effective.” That’s not right. You don’t need to be aggressive — though you must be assertive. Assertive people state their opinions and make themselves heard, while remaining respectful of others. Aggressive people attack or ignore others’ opinions in favor of their own.
Much like those who lack compassion, overly aggressive people cannot understand another’s position when it varies from their own. That makes them ineffective at understanding the problem and thus incapable of providing an effective solution. Even more detrimental, overly aggressive people act without respect for others. This damages interpersonal relationships, ultimately leading to an uncooperative environment that makes resolution or agreement impossible.
We need to be creative to find real solutions to life's problems. Each issue is unique; each problem must be handled differently, and each solution carefully crafted. While on the whole, people are rather risk-averse, we must learn to think outside the box. The best way to create unique solutions is to approach each situation with compassionate listening, which enables us to really understand the issues and what needs to happen. That level of understanding can lead to long-lasting solutions that work for all interested parties. Stalemates often arise when a person fails to approach a problem with compassionate listening and, instead, becomes unnecessarily aggressive. Don’t be that deal-breaker.
Success is achieved with perseverance. We must keep working, keep trying and keep going. We must be able to walk away when things are not working, take a break and come back fresh and ready to “fight,” negotiate or whatever the situation requires.
Now go out there and be great!
This article first appeared at Attorney at Work, and has been edited for a more general audience.
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