You’ve likely noticed that some people seem to get ahead of the pack more quickly and easily than others.
They might have an easier time making connections with people, or they might appear to breeze through situations that cause others immense anxiety.
So, what gives these people such advantages? What are the personality traits that give them an edge while others struggle?
And furthermore, how can you cultivate those traits?
Below are 10 of the most common traits that give you an “unfair” advantage. Maybe you have them innately, or maybe you’d like to develop them, but they’re all beneficial for any situation you may find yourself in as you meander through life.
This is the ability to be a chameleon in any situation in which you may find yourself. It refers to one’s capacity to thrive in unfamiliar or swiftly shifting circumstances.
The best soldiers have this trait—they may be fighting in the desert one week and the jungle or an Arctic wasteland the next, and they can adjust their techniques and approaches to suit their immediate environment.
More commonly, this is a conscious “blending in” that’s rather like dressing to fit with a particular crowd or scenario. By doing so, you don’t just appear to be one of them—you fit in seamlessly with whatever you’re doing.
This doesn’t mean that you lose sight of who you are, nor do you change who you are inside to make people like you. Rather, you put on the persona that you need in the moment and then go back to your natural state once you’re done.
Poise entails maintaining a calm, composed demeanor regardless of what you’re going through.
It’s keeping control of your emotions so that they don’t take over, and remaining self-assured and confident in everything you do.
If you have poise, you’re able to maintain grace under pressure rather than lashing out. As a result, you’ll never have to look back at your behavior with shame and self-recrimination.
It’s important to note that it’s not just rich or well-educated people who can be measured and graceful. The amount of money you have or what you do for a living has little bearing on who you are as a person. You can cultivate these traits with very few resources and a lot of persistence and discipline.
When you behave with dignity, you announce to the world that you are to be afforded respect.
Conduct yourself in a dignified manner, avoid being vulgar by constantly interjecting vulgarity and slang into your day-to-day speech, and watch how people’s actions toward you shift.
3. Personal awareness and self-reflection.
These are two sides of the same coin. After all, you can’t reflect upon your ideas and actions unless you’re aware of yourself and your motivations.
It’s a rare trait for a person to be able to look at everything they’ve said and done over the course of a day from the standpoint of an impartial observer. This requires one to take note of all the actions performed without defensiveness, self-recrimination, excuses, or other emotional reactions.
Your goal is to be an impartial observer of your behavior and look at yourself to see where you can improve, and where you’re excelling.
This objective perspective helps you stay grounded and realistic about where you are, who you are, and where you want to go.
4. Openness to receiving feedback.
It’s not enough to simply reflect upon yourself to see where you can improve; it’s also important to be open to other people’s observations and recommendations.
Let’s imagine that two people get passed over for the same promotion at work.
Person A might assume that the boss liked the one who was promoted better and be bitter about the experience. They might even quit for the sake of their pride.
Meanwhile, Person B schedules a meeting with the boss to find out where they fell short and how they can improve for a better chance of promotion the next time.
If you were in the boss’s position, and they were a decent judge of character, whom would you respect more—A or B?
If you show people that you’re both open to feedback and eager for it because of the potential for personal growth, you’ll gain their respect while also bettering yourself.
5. Deductive reasoning.
If you’ve ever read the comments on social media posts, you may have noticed that a lot of people jump to conclusions after reading the tiniest morsel of information, then they get judgmental based on their perceptions of the circumstances.
One of the best traits you can cultivate is the ability to rein in your emotions and remain neutral until you have as much information as possible. Selected snippets never give the full perspective, and nor does listening to only one side of the story.
Avoid jumping to conclusions and getting all fired up when you only see one facet of a multi-sided dice. Instead, wait until you have all the details, and then use logic and reasoning to determine how you feel about that thing.
This can be especially helpful for not making snap judgments about others, but rather waiting until you get to know them better.
Life is a lot easier if you cultivate the resilience to handle anything it may throw at you. In addition to giving you an advantage over others who have weaker constitutions, it also ensures that you keep moving forward when and if life throws you curveballs.
Situations that leave others howling in pain or frozen in depression or panic barely even affect you. You’re fully aware that life is full of challenges, and you have faith in your ability to either meet those head-on or find effective solutions for them.
Resilience is what allows people to bounce back from life’s many adversities and to remain functional in even the most stressful of situations. Combine resilience with adaptability and a diverse skillset (which we’ll get into shortly) and you’re an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.
7. Honoring yourself and being aware of your limitations.
A lot of people end up feeling depleted because they take on more than their fair share due to a sense of obligation. This doesn’t help anyone, because they’ll run themselves ragged and start resenting those who demand too much of them.
If you can honor yourself and your limitations, that’ll make a massive difference to your well-being, as well as how others treat you.
Being a responsible person means recognizing when you have enough on your plate and not taking on baggage that isn’t yours and doesn’t benefit you or your loved ones. It’s the ability to know when to say “No, that isn’t my load to carry.”
This comes in handy when your employer is trying to pawn extra work off on you without the benefit of extra pay, implying that you should “take one for the team” or “take responsibility” as part of your position. A lot of folks say this as a way of burdening others with their own stuff.
Don’t tolerate this.
It takes more integrity to realize what your limits are and assert them than meekly acquiescing to avoid confrontation. Once others recognize that you can’t be manipulated, they’ll respect you more and will no longer try to burden you.
If they ask you to do more work, ensure that you’re not doing it for free. Furthermore, don’t trust verbal contracts: ensure that there’s a paper trail agreement, and reinforce that by checking your pay slip.
Many people talk about how brave they’d be in given situations, but when they’re actually faced with those situations, they’ll either bare their bellies or turn tail and run.
In contrast, bravery and ferocity are decried by many as being “base” or “toxic,” when in fact they’re vital in many situations.
When you think about history’s greatest heroes, you’ll notice that they all exhibited bravery in their respective situations. It takes courage to run into a burning building to save a child or to stand up to someone who’s being unjust even if it means that you may suffer as a result.
Being brave doesn’t mean that you must seek out fights or put others down: those actions are usually signs of personal weakness and cowardice. A brave person will do what needs to be done in a crisis while others are running around screaming.
Furthermore, brave people aren’t beaten down by “scary” world events: they simply prepare and face whatever unfolds.
Ferocity doesn’t mean being belligerent to others either. A sincerely strong, brave person will be gentle and protective toward children, animals, and other vulnerable beings.
If you’re brave and fierce, people know that you’re not to be trifled with, but also that you’ll stand by them in difficult circumstances. People respect strength and despise weakness on a fundamental level, regardless of how “toxic” contemporary media paints it to be.
9. Meet other people where they’re at.
We discussed adaptability earlier in this article, but that refers more to being a chameleon in any situation you may find yourself in. In this instance, it refers to moderating your language and behavior depending on whom you’re dealing with.
For example, you wouldn’t speak to a superior court judge the same way you would speak to your pre-teen nephew. This doesn’t mean that you put on airs with the former or talk down to the latter, but rather you recognize who’s in front of you and meet them at their own level.
This doesn’t involve being condescending to others whom you may feel are “below” you, nor would you pander to those from a higher social class. Instead, you’d speak at the level at which they’re speaking, mirror their body language, and work with them as equals.
10. A wide and diverse skillset.
Few things benefit people as much as a wide repertoire of personal skills. The average person is very limited in the number of things they can do. Sure, they may be absolute experts in their chosen career field or hobby, but put them in any other situation, and they’ll have no idea what to do.
Another massive benefit to having a diverse skillset is the ability to combine skills to think on the fly in various circumstances. In fact, many skills that may seem incongruous can often be combined to good effect when you least expect it.
For instance, let’s say you’re working in an office and a bunch of boxes are tilting precariously in the storage room. If you’re familiar with sailor’s knots, you can use some extension cords or utility twine to secure them easily while other people are flailing around helplessly.
Consider this quote by Robert Heinlein:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
Having a well-rounded array of skills can only benefit you and everyone around you. Of all the traits on this list, a diverse wealth of abilities may be the one that’ll serve you best.
All these traits can be advantageous as you go through life. Determine which you like best and put real effort into cultivating them! You have no idea how many doors will open and how far you will get by embodying them.