Defining 40 Personality Traits at Work

Cultivating and supporting a team that can work together to meet the needs of your company is not an easy task.

You will find the job much easier, however, if you understand the personalities you are working with and identify the traits that are essential to a given task or position.

Testing for the following 40 personality traits and understanding what they mean in a business setting will give you the insights you need.

What are personality traits and why do they matter in the workplace?

Types of personality traits at work.

The personality traits of your employees are part of what creates your company culture. They'll also play a vital role in defining team dynamics. That's why it's important to identify the character traits that fit into your company as early in the recruitment process as possible.

You may find it worthwhile to administer a personality test as part of your hiring process. You can build effective teams, reduce the risk in hiring, and preserve an upbeat and productive workplace.

Here are common trait descriptions that personality testing can uncover.

1. Introverted vs. extroverted personality

Introverted: An introverted person is a quiet, reserved individual. They make few efforts to meet new people on their own, being more comfortable with an introduction from a friend or colleague. They do not readily take risks in social situations.

Extroverted: An extroverted person is social and outgoing. Defining traits include taking the initiative to meet new people in business and social situations. They have empathy for others and enjoy company.

2. Unorganized vs. organized personality

Unorganized: The trait description for this type of person is someone who prefers unstructured situations. They are comfortable with ambiguity. Negative personality traits include being poor planners, not good with details, and struggling with deadlines. They may, however, be creative in dealing with new things and situations.

Organized: Other people like structure and do things in a systematic manner. They are more likely to plan their work and work their plan. Their desk and office will probably be neat with everything in its place.

3. Cautious vs. risk taker personality

Cautious: An extremely cautious person avoids risks, preferring safe, proven, time-tested solutions and methods. They seek evidence and are skeptical of anything unproven. They like a clear process and feel most comfortable in a routine.

Risk Taker: The risk taker is willing to accept new ideas and concepts. They will often take a chance on something unproven, even with high stakes. They have a sense of adventure and a willingness to chart new paths.

4. Inflexible vs. adaptable personality

Inflexible: Traits defining this type of person are being rigid in approach and closed-minded to new things. They do not easily adapt to accommodate others, different kinds of thinking,or changes in processes. They may drag their feet in making changes.

Adaptable: This person is open-minded and flexible when it comes to change and new ideas. They will be willing to accommodate others and value harmony and compatibility. Even if they believe their way is the best way, they are open to compromising.

5. Indecisive vs. decisive personality

Indecisive: People with this personality trait have difficulty making a decision or sticking with decisions. They often doubt themselves and change their minds often. They hesitate or even freeze up when faced with decisions and are easily influenced by others.

Decisive: Decisive people do not hesitate to make a decision. They are confident in their own ability to sort out information and act. Once they have made a decision, you will need convincing evidence for making a change. They are comfortable with risk, especially if they are confident of their information.

6. Intuitive vs. analytical personality

Intuitive: People with a traits description like this rely on gut feel more than facts. These positive personality traits are useful in ambiguous situations when you can't analyze data and consider options. On the other hand, they may become frustrated when forced to analyze things when they feel they already know the answer.

Analytical: People with analytical personality traits are sometimes described as having type C personalities. They need all the facts to make a decision, and even then may not be completely satisfied. They are detail oriented and methodical, which is valuable when you must be thorough before making a decision.

7. Merciless vs. compassionate personality

Merciless: This person does not consider others when making a decision or executing a strategy. Some would classify them as having negative personality traits, however too much empathy isn't good either. When you have a tough job others can't bring themselves to do, this kind of person is not afraid to do what is necessary.

Compassionate: Warm and caring and always looking out for others are definition traits of this type. They value fairness and readily empathize with other people. While seen as positive personality traits, compassionate characteristics can get in the way of making firm decisions and handling tough situations.

8. Deliberate/planner vs. spontaneous personality

Deliberate - Planner: These kinds of people know exactly why they do things and are strategic in their approach to work. They will carefully plan a detailed strategy. They don't leave things to chance. They rehearse and show up ready.

Spontaneous: This personality type is comfortable responding in the moment. They take not knowing what may happen in stride. They can be impulsive and think quickly on their feet. If they are wrong about something, they won't dwell on it, preferring instead to apologize and move on.

9. Lives for today vs. goal oriented personality

Lives for Today: This type leads a carefree lifestyle and gets the most out of every day. They may not know where they will be five years from now, but they will enjoy getting there. They focus very much on the now.

Goal Oriented: These people have purpose and direction in life. They see each day as an opportunity. They are willing to sacrifice now to meet goals in the future. They tend to be competitive and are motivated by contests and long term rewards.

10. Reactive vs. proactive personality

Reactive: People with these traits wait for things to happen and then react. They are flexible and adapt easily, yet often wait until the last minute to take action. They may be able to pick up on small things that others might overlook.

Proactive: This person deliberately goes after the outcome they want. They tend to be good at handling people and making things happen. They are always looking at the future and thinking through alternatives to get ahead of events.

11. Avoids change vs. likes change personality

Avoids Change: A change-averse person seeks stability in everything they do and are most comfortable when rules and procedures are consistent. They have stable career paths and are reluctant to switch jobs often.

Likes Change: People with this personality trait seek fun and excitement, being easily bored. They may go out of their way to do something to cause change just so things don't get stale. They are usually creative individuals who look for a better way to do things.

12. Impatient vs. patient personality

Impatient: These people hate to wait. They want everything yesterday, but right now will do. People like this often fit with the type "A" personality traits description, though all four personality types can sometimes be impatient. These people drive new ideas and move projects forward to pressure getting things done.

Patient: This kind of person is able to wait to see results. They listen carefully to others and support them as they pursue tasks. They don't see a mistake that slows things down or a concern that must be worked through as frustrating impediments. They consider pressure to work faster and break through such roadblocks as bullying and unproductive.

13. Unpersuasive vs. persuasive personality

Unpersuasive: Some people simply are unable to convince anyone of anything. They may be uncomfortable trying to sway someone's opinion or entice them to buy something.

Persuasive: Persuasive people are very convincing in presenting ideas and information. They make it easy for others to believe and accept what they are saying. They are willing to take some risks to get people to see things their way.

14. Delegates details vs. detailed personality

Delegates Details: This type of person prefers to get to the bottom line and let others work out the details. If they cannot delegate, they may become disorganized or rush to make decisions without enough information.

Detailed: Detail-oriented individuals are meticulous and keep everything in order. They enjoy analyzing all the facts, making sure they are correct and correlated to known issues. Precision, accuracy, organization, and neatness are characteristics of a person like this.

15. Avoids stress vs. thrives on stress personality

Avoids Stress: Some people prefer tranquility and avoid anything that creates stress. They are easy going and try to keep things running smoothly. They don't like people who miss deadlines, break rules, and cause problems or chaos.

Thrives on Stress: Other people are not really happy unless they are busy balancing many things at the same time. They may be impatient and demanding of others who don't share these values. They tend to enjoy competition and stimulating activities, even when relaxing.

16. Needs reassurance vs. self confident personality

Needs Reassurance: People with this personality trait derive their confidence from the approval of others. They are conformists and may be timid and shy with others They are not aggressive in their interactions. They respond to praise and recognition over financial rewards.

Self-Confident: Some people do not need others to tell them if they are doing well or making the right choices. While they appreciate praise, they don't need that kind of encouragement. People with extreme versions of this personality type may come across as arrogant and pushy.

17. Intolerant vs. tolerant personality

Intolerant: An intolerant person knows the rules and expects everyone else to do the same. They can be demanding and inflexible, sometimes taking on the role of disciplinarian.

Tolerant: Defining traits of this kind of person are openness, patience, being accommodating, and being willing to compromise.They may be willing to bend the rules to help people along and are comfortable with all kinds of people.

What are the character traits that are ideal for your organization? You might want to take a pulse of your culture as part of your personality traits testing program.

18. Team player vs. independent personality

Team Player: People with this personality trait work best when they can interact with others. They enjoy contributing to a group and are not as happy if they must work alone.

Works Independently: Other people like to work autonomously. They are self-reliant and effectively supervise themselves. They like to know the goal, but want to figure out how to achieve it themselves. They may see others getting involved as micro-managing.

19. Passive vs. aggressive personality

Passive: People like this are quiet and reserved. They don't push themselves to the forefront and do not seek to lead. They do not like confrontation and will give in or retreat rather than engage in a debate.

Aggressive: Some people are assertive and forceful in how they interact with people and pursue their work. They will speak up for what they think and will push for doing things the way they view as right. They have no problems confronting authority.

20. Skeptic vs. promoter personality

Skeptic: People who ask questions and who do not take things at face value can be valuable in your organization. They doubt what they are told and want to see evidence before they believe. They can come across as cautious and sometimes demanding. They are uncomfortable in ambiguous situations.

Promoter: This personality type does not need all of the evidence before championing an idea or a product. They get excited about the potential of an idea without spending as much time verifying it. They can be prone to hype. Their enthusiasm makes them persuasive.

Positive vs. negative personality traits

Positive vs negative personality traits at work.

You may tend to see specific personality traits as positive, particularly if they match your own personality.

Yet, seeing completely negative personality traits and completely positive personality traits is not an accurate way to view people. When you administer a personality test, much depends on how extreme the traits are and the specific situation in which the individual is placed.

Examples of positive personality traits at work

Many people see patience as a virtue. Yet, when a decision needs to be made and deadlines are looming, a type A person who pushes things forward and innovates new ideas is invaluable. A patient person may get too caught up in balancing competing interests or sorting out complexities to meet goals in a timely manner.

Similarly, someone who is inflexible might be seen as having negative personality traits, but the inflexibility can actually be a positive asset. For example, this trait may be desirable in someone who is responsible for defining stipulations of a contract or ensuring your company complies with regulations.

It can be extremely helpful to test adaptability skills.

Examples of negative personality traits at work

Some negative personality traits may not have a positive aspect. An example is indecisiveness. This can hamper decision-making, sow confusion, and may end up leaving other employees frustrated. It's seldom a good idea to put indecisive individuals in roles with authority.

In other cases, positive personality traits can turn negative if they are extreme. A highly decisive person may make rash choices before getting enough information. They may be reluctant to change course and admit a mistake. They could end up being seen as a bully by others on the team.

You may want to test emotional intelligence, which will help in getting the balance right and find people who make positive use of any personality trait.

What's the difference between character traits and personality traits?

Defining traits simplistically as positive personality traits and negative personality traits is not helpful. A more nuanced approach, informed by solid personality trait test results, will help you put together the right team for your business goals and assess culture fit.

Taking this approach, a positive personality trait is one that is valuable to your business in the right balance for your culture. A negative personality trait is one that upsets company culture and potentially derails your ability to meet business goals.

Predict job performance by knowing your candidates' traits

Knowing a job applicant's personality traits is the invaluable first step in building teams with the right mix of people for your company. While you need to know that they have the right technical skills, knowing how they will fit with your culture and work with others is just as critical.