Agreeableness is one of those things that you may have heard about if you’ve been subjected to a personality test, but as a rule isn’t something that is discussed over a Sunday roast. So what is it? Does it matter? Can you improve it? What effects does it have on your daily life?
When it comes to personality traits, if you're someone that has scored high in agreeableness, you're likely popular and tend to make friends easily. You also may be seen as trustworthy, altruistic, honest, modest, empathetic, and cooperative.
But this doesn’t mean that you are the opposite if you aren’t.
If you’ve been following me for any time you’ll know that I limit the support of labels, however it is undeniable that personality traits support a direction and an outcomes when we know how to manipulate them.
Agreeableness is one of the Big Five personality traits, which theorises that there are five major dimensions to personality. Each dimension is viewed on a continuum, which means while you may be dominant in one area—like agreeableness—you still have some level of the other four traits represented in your personality as well – you aren’t just one, a misunderstanding of many.
In addition to agreeableness, the other Big Five traits include openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, and neuroticism. OCEAN is the acronym commonly used to help people remember all five traits. Overall, the Big Five is a useful tool for considering and learning more about personality traits. It's also useful in identifying and predicting how people will LOOSELY respond in different situations.
Avoid the temptation to get too caught up in personality types. It WILL limit your development and hinder outcomes.
Common Characteristics of Agreeableness
Overall, agreeableness describes a person’s ability to put other people’s needs above his or her own. For instance, people who are high in agreeableness naturally experience empathy and tend to get tremendous pleasure from serving others and taking care of them – when you think about careers here you may immediately think about those involved with social and medical care, parental roles such as teaching or education etc.
Agreeable people also are trusting and forgiving and would rather collaborate than compete with others, a more the merrier approach. Clearly, scoring high in agreeableness can be advantageous in many situations because it's a key trait in attaining and maintaining popularity – key in political positions or not in some cases. Agreeable people are generally well liked and a joy to be around. Most people consider them good friends.
Although agreeableness has many positive aspects, there are some downsides that should be considered. Again it is important to remember that for most of us we are more than one personality trait and at times the majority will shift.
For instance, agreeable people may struggle to assert their wants, needs, and preferences. They also struggle in situations that require tough decisions or tough love. And when it comes to their careers, they may be so intent on helping others get ahead that they forget to plan their own advancement.
Joe Rogan noted in his recent podcast #1705 with two of my favourite Professors and couple Bret Weinstein & Heather Heying, how obese medical staff in the US had been dropping like flies during the pandemic, having cared for others over the need to care for themselves and their health.
You are not equipped to help another unless you are looking after yourself.
Meanwhile, people who score low in agreeableness tend to be more hostile, antagonistic, and competitive. They also tend to have more difficult relationships that are riddled with disagreements and breakups.
Common characteristics of people who score high in agreeableness:
- Get along well with others
- Are popular and well-liked
- Care for others in need
- Are helpful, kind, and considerate
- Display sensitivity
- Are socially and emotionally intelligent
- De-escalate conflict
- Refrain from judging people
- Give others the benefit of the doubt
- Like to collaborate
- Form friendships easily
- Tend to be altruistic and perceptive
- Are emotionally supportive
Agreeableness Will Influence Your Behaviour, so take note.
When it comes to personality testing, measuring a person's agreeableness determines their ability to be kind, empathetic, trusting, cooperative, and sympathetic. In other words, it shows how well the person interacts with society, or at least it is predicted how they will, nothing is guaranteed.
Within the trait of agreeableness, there are six facets or sub-traits that further illustrate what makes a person agreeable:
People who are agreeable feel good when they are helping others. What's more, they get tremendous internal rewards for doing good deeds and do not view it as self-sacrificing. They get a sense of fulfilment from the act itself, despite their ability to maintain it.
When someone scores high in agreeableness, they will go to great lengths to avoid confrontations with other people. They like to be seen as peacemakers, but will often compromise their own needs and interests to get along with other people. They will avoid situations where there could be confrontation and miss out.
If someone scores high in agreeableness, they tend to be straightforward and sincere, again they will avoid situations where there could be a need to talk openly and honestly.
People who score high in agreeableness are very down-to-earth and rarely claim to be better than others. They also are usually humble, sometimes to the point that they may have lower self-esteem (usually as a result of enabling narcissistic behaviours in a partner).
When someone scores high in agreeableness, they are often very sympathetic and are easily moved to have care and concern for others. They also are emotionally intelligent and very empathetic, often relating to the pain and suffering of other people.
If someone scores high in agreeableness, they are prone to assume that other people have good intentions and mean well. They can also be slow to make judgments about other people and often care for people unconditionally – look at my recent article on Self Exposure - https://www.benjaminbonetti.com/blogs/news/self-protection-self-exposure-where-is-the-balance-in-a-relationship
In summary, personality traits represent just one small factor in determining who you are. Even if you score high in agreeableness, you still have some level of the other traits within your personality and it is NOT who you are. So, while understanding agreeableness can help you make sense of your tendencies, it's not your only defining characteristic.
If you need to work on your personality traits then book a one to one therapy session with me Benjamin Bonetti. More details can be found on the booking page.
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