Many Baby-boomers will remember The Byrd’s soft-rock song rendition of Ecclesiastes 3, Turn, Turn, Turn
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.
(“Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)
In these verses, Solomon makes a case for understanding the context of an action in order to know whether the action is appropriate. That 3,000 year old advice ago may be relevant today.
There are situations where Agreeableness is your advantage. At other times, your hardheaded logic is the strength you bring to the world.
What Agreeableness looks like
Researchers who study people high in Agreeableness have found that they identify more often and more strongly with statements like these:
Am interested in people.
Sympathize with others’ feelings.
Have a soft heart.
Take time out for others.
Feel others’ emotions.
Make people feel at ease.
Inquire about others’ well-being.
Know how to comfort others.
Am on good terms with nearly everyone.
Have a good word for everyone.
Show my gratitude.
Think of others first.
Love to help others.
Other words used to describe Agreeableness include
A shorthand phrase for Agreeableness is how well you work or play with others.
People who are average and higher in Agreeableness tend to have better relationships with others. They find what they seek. The opposite is also true: people who are lower in Agreeableness tend to have more conflict in their relationships, often by their own doing! For example, two studies of adolescents low in Agreeableness found that they were more likely to use destructive tactics when in conflict with others. People low in Agreeableness may also be more likely to initiate conflict. (Duh!)
Too much or too little of a good thing?
When your Agreeableness is very high, you might default to being deferential when the situation calls on you to speak up. You might be too reliant on others when the situation calls on you to take a stand and let others rely on your judgment.
On the other end of the spectrum, if your Agreeableness is very low, you may have little concern for the impact of your words or actions on those around you.
Readers of this blog are already familiar with my bias: while personality traits may be descriptive, they’re not absolute. Strengths overused can become a weakness. A weakness or vulnerability can be fortified.
Questions to consider
Where is your Agreeableness accelerating your life, relationships, or career? What are some ways you can maximize your Agreeableness and make it work more to your advantage (and to the advantage of those around you?)
Are there situations where your Agreeableness – high or low – may hold you back? Are there situations where your Agreeableness – high or low – may not be to your advantage (or to the advantage of those around you?)
In the words of a former instructor, “You can choose your actions, but life chooses the consequences.” How is life choosing consequences because of your high – or low – Agreeableness?
What will you do more of? What will you do less of?
Using your Agreeableness may be to your unfair advantage when you’re choosing to defer to others and cooperate rather than compete. Other situations may call on you to suppress your Agreeableness and choose to stand your ground because a higher principle, a higher calling, is at stake than cooperation.
As always, I’m eager to hear your thoughts. Call me or send me an email. Let’s continue the dialog and continue to grow in using our unfair advantage for the benefit of those around us.
Until next time, press on, men. Press on.