The Duality of Personality Traits

This topic is something that I would like more people to know – Dealing with difficulties is easier when you understand and accept the duality of life. Most personality traits are seen as either “good” or “bad”. This is not necessarily true since each trait has two sides to it – what matters is how you perceive these traits. Whether a personality trait is positive or negative depends on the situation – as we all know, context is important.
When discussing personality traits, it is crucial to distinguish between personality and temperament. “Personality is an organized combination of attributes, motives, values, and behaviors that are unique to each individual”. These are usually referred to as traits that tend to remain relatively consistent over time. Temperament is similar but can be defined as a person’s nature that permanently affects their behavior. The general consensus when it comes to personality traits is that they fall into five major dimensions – these are known as the Big Five:

  • Openness to Experience
  • Conscientiousness
  • Extroversion
  • Agreeableness
  • Neuroticism

There are many different traits that a person can possess, but each would fall under one of these categories. Each of these traits would then be considered as either positive or negative depending on where it lies on the dimension spectrum.
Many people believe otherwise though, and view each trait to be neutral. It is made positive or negative by the person exhibiting the trait. Therefore, before judging remember that things aren’t always as clear cut as they seem. The examples below are traits that are generally seen as negative. However, studies have shown that these negative traits can be positive too:

Messiness or Disorganization

Being a bit messy is not really the worst trait to have, but studies have shown that the majority of people in a work environment judge their co-workers by how messy their workspace is. This is because people assume that messiness is a sign of being unproductive. This is a myth because science has proven that people who have messy desks are usually more creative and also more willing to take risks. It goes without saying though, that disorganization is not a problem as long as there is no old food on the desk – that is a hygiene problem, no messiness.


While it is bad to only think of yourself and disregard the needs of others, selfishness is necessary at times. Constantly being selfless can be detrimental to your health, especially when you struggle to say “no” to others. Being a people pleaser can result in a life full of unproductive distractions. Sometimes the best way to help others is to help yourself first.

Having an Ego

Most people think that egotism is a bad trait to have, and generally, that is true. However, there is a difference between an unhealthy ego and a healthy ego. An unhealthy ego would be arrogance which diminishes others to elevate itself. A healthy ego can be considered as self-confidence which is a belief in yourself and is definitely a good trait to have. This trait allows you to achieve in all aspects of life without bringing others down.


Most people consider being shy to be a weakness, and in some cases this is correct. Shy people tend to miss out on opportunities in life. On the other hand, these people have excellent observation skills and are reflective by nature. Shyness is an aspect of introversion but is not the same, so do not confuse the two. Most of all shy people are great listeners which in turn makes them the best confidants and friends. Listening and caring is something that is most definitely needed in our world and should be valued.

Being Easily Distracted

Being constantly preoccupied and distracted can make completing work quite difficult and can partly be attributed to procrastination. We live in a world with many distractions, but that is just because there is so much to know and experience. This means that people who are easily distracted tend to be more creative and think outside the box. Unfocused energy allows for a broader range of information to be processed. Both focus and distraction are vital and you cannot have one without the other.


This trait is viewed as negative because many cynical people become obnoxious in their attempts to be critical of just about everything. This does not mean that it is bad to be a bit more critical of the world around you. By being cynical you let of go of your emotional attachment to things which actually helps you to be more rational. Just consider this; being skeptical of things is what helps you avoid scams and other such lies or cons.


According to an article found in American Psychologist neuroticism is “tendencies to respond with negative emotions to threat, frustration, or loss”. In this regard, it can be seen as a bad trait as it can even affect your health. Studies have shown though that you can respond to these anxieties in a positive way through conscientiousness. This means that balance is the key to turning this negative trait into a positive.

Having Thin Skin

Most people struggle to deal with criticism and so get told to build up a thicker skin. This may be good to an extent as it helps you to deal with difficult situations and critical people. However, it is not good to have such a thick skin that you ignore criticism completely. So do not brush it off, but rather use it to your advantage. This means learning how to accept criticism without taking it personally. In this way, all criticism can be seen as constructive and it will help you to improve yourself.


In this regard, it is best to have a healthy balance between optimism and pessimism. This is because nobody enjoys being around someone who constantly brings the mood down. However, studies have shown that pessimistic people live longer on average and are usually healthier than their optimistic counterparts. This results from thinking ahead and planning for anything that could go wrong. Pessimistic people also think about every possible outcome and are prepared to deal with most things that come their way.


This is definitely seen as a negative trait, especially by those that work hard for what they achieve. But there is no denying the saying that “laziness is the mother of ingenuity”. This is because lazy people will always find the easiest way to do something. This has resulted in many automated processes that have made all our lives easier. These people will always find a shortcut or way to hack life. Without even realizing it lazy people are always motivated, but they do need direction or the laziness will get the best of them.
These are just some examples of how we are prejudiced to view one trait as better than the other. In most cases, balance is the most important thing to remember.

Which of these traits do you possess?

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  1. I love seeing the positives in characteristics that are normally viewed as negatives. Really makes you think! Great post

  2. This was such an interesting read! I love that you looked at the other side’s point of view on each topic and showed how we can view things that are usually seen as negative, as positive in certain situations.

  3. How interesting! I think I have half of these traits, which was a nightmare for my parents, as they tried to discipline my shyness, messiness, and distraction out of me. But it didn’t work and these traits have worked well for me as an adult! Who would have thought?

    1. You have these traits for a reason. They have obviously equipped you will the skills and abilities you needed to deal with life.

  4. I really enjoyed this post. I don’t believe that any trait can truly be one sided. People are complex and there are two sides to everything. I am sensitive and will cry at the drop of a hat. I am also strong and take up for myself and those around me.

  5. 955429 120585You could certainly see your enthusiasm in the work you write. The world hopes for more passionate writers like you who arent afraid to say how they believe. Always go after your heart. 936019

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