Have you ever noticed how some people just seem to do well at work? They get along well with people, do well at any task, and are able to deal with conflicts and setbacks with insight and resilience.

Their success has less to do with skills, intelligence or even a fancy degree than their personality. Here are the major personality traits and how they can shape your life and outlook. Find out what yours is like—and what you can do to become more effective at work.

Psychologists used to think that people were born with a particular disposition, which tended to be shaped even further in childhood. But recent Smapse.com study shows that people’s personality can evolve over time—sometimes with conscious effort. So you can take charge of your personality, letting go of those traits that hold you back, and magnifying those that contribute to your well-being.


This personality trait is generally associated with work ethic, or the ability to remain focused on a task. It also means you are more organized (since you orchestrate resources to achieve objectives) and loyal. Conscientious individuals are also able to overcome obstacles very well, since they tend to seek solutions to problems and persevere. (Read our article on how to overcome fear of failure.)

The flip side of conscientiousness is that these people tend to be stubborn, and have a low tolerance for ambiguity and risk. They may tend to take things too seriously. Conscientious individuals need to be able to achieve work life balance and let go of things they can’t control.


These are the “people persons” who are easy to get along with and enjoy working with others. They are good negotiators and build good relationships and networks (which, in turn, open more opportunities to them). In times of conflict, they like to look for “win-win” situations. However, they may have trouble standing up for themselves and need to learn how to face conflict without buckling down. They need to be able to draw emotional boundaries and cultivate a sense of independence.


These are the natural worriers. On the one hand, they are good at trouble-shooting, and their ability to identify possible issues and logistics can serve them well in the office. However, they have trouble reining in their anxiety, and may not be able to deal with pressure well. They are also at higher risk for depression. They need to be able to learn stress management techniques and rein in emotions.


These are adventure seekers, who love doing creative things and exercising their imagination. They are comfortable with ambiguity and risk, and their out-of-the-box thinking can lead to big results if they learn how to think logically, persevere, and manage their resources. However, they do have a tendency to be scatter-brained, lacking the focus to stick to a task, and may have trouble actually implementing their big dreams. They need to be able to break big tasks into smaller ones, and set realistic goals.


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