Character Traits List

This article is going to be a character traits list and a companion post to ‘What Is Character‘, a discussion about the qualities, values and beliefs of men. I value character in myself and others and appreciate who I am as a person and the values that I choose to live by. Making decisions that align with these values leads to congruence in life.

Young men would be wise to be mindful of character, both in themselves and in others. If you would like to become a better man, start with character.

I have come to believe that character is largely invisible and undetectable, at least for a while. Character is hidden or even disguised behind behavior, personality and even attractiveness. All of us can behave real good for a while. In relationships, most people can be what the other wants for about 6 months before the veneer starts to wash off and the real person shows up. However, if you become mindful of character and the role it plays in your life, you can get much better at evaluating character in others. Trust me, that’s a good skill.

My Favorite Character Traits

My favorite character traits list

I will compile a list of many qualities that are considered character traits, but it can be a little overwhelming to try and understand, let alone manage all of who you are. The good news is that they’re not all equal in value and importance. I think we should all pick a handful of our favorite qualities and make an effort to develop these qualities in ourselves. I will discuss some of my top picks in a bit of detail, exploring the value of that quality in yourself and the importance of looking for that quality in others. Character traits within yourself can be developed and even changed. I am less confident about changing others, unless they are genuinely committed to change.


I’m a big advocate for honesty. You should be too. I believe we are all basically honest, until we aren’t. What I mean is, we will all speak the truth when it is easy to do so. That said, I think we lose a lot of people in two ways. First, we say untrue things to avoid inconvenience or embarrassment. Mostly small lies, but untruths nonetheless. I probably won’t tell someone that I disliked their lasagna, but where is the line? Some people take great liberties with the truth, meaning they lie like a carpet. I strongly advise not being one of these people and avoiding people that are. Dishonest people create pain and betrayal in the lives of others.

Another way many of us are less than honest is by not telling a truth someone is entitled to know. Fraud can either be a misrepresentation of the truth or the concealment of a fact not known to someone entitled to the truth. Like selling a house on a sinkhole, but not mentioning the sinkhole part. That is no different than a lie. This is a thing that nice guys do all the time and you will need to learn to wrestle with this. How often do you avoid conflict by not telling someone something they should know?


Another winner. Having a solid moral compass and understanding the whole right and wrong thing. Much of integrity develops in healthy homes when we’re young, but can be further developed by awareness and will. Nearly everyone appreciates men of integrity. Pay attention to the actions of others and look for clues about their integrity. Would someone steal if they knew they could get away with it? What are the limits on bad behavior? Actions are behaviors that are influenced by character. Most people will claim to be of high character, but pay close attention to what people do for clues to their true character.


I also appreciate genuine kindness, although I’m not sure everyone feels the same. Kindness is a warmth, generous, considerate and friendly disposition towards others. The interest and ability to consider other people as important and valuable. I sometimes get the feeling that some see kindness as a weakness in a man. I see the point. People can get pretty ugly and behave pretty badly and kind people are easy targets. I tend to lace my kindness with a bit of cynicism, especially with new people. That’s Street Smart in my view, a practical understanding of how things really are. That said, I value kindness in myself and others.

Self Confidence

This one is a game changer for nice guys. I’m going to have to write all kinds of articles about this as it is central to much of who you are and appear to be to others. How would you rate your self-confidence on a 1-10 scale? In fact, I would document specific details about the different areas of your life, such as career, physical health and appearance, women and dating, personal finance and so on. Hey, you can keep this in your journal.

Insecurity, self confidence and believing you are enough

Do you believe in yourself? Are you able to stand up and be counted? Life is big and hard, and it’s easy to get intimidated by all that is expected of a single human being. And we all assume most everyone else has it all together and we don’t want to get found out. Brene Brown has a great TED talk and vulnerability and the power of recognizing you are ‘enough’.

Insecurity and self-confidence seem to be adversaries you will wrestle with many times over the course of your life. I would start early to understand what holds you back and erodes your faith in yourself. I don’t think I had real issues with insecurity or self-confidence, but I wish I had learned to accept myself more and younger. Like many, I did try to hide weakness and shortcomings. I don’t do that as much anymore, as I would rather you knew and could decide freely if I was qualified to fit in your tribe. If not I’ll be on my way.

It is empowering to know you are enough.


Generosity is not about money or what you can give or do for others with expectations of you. Wanting generous people in your life with expectations of personal benefit seriously misses the point. Some of the wealthiest people I know are not generous at all and lots of less financially successful are massively generous and inspiring to know. Generosity is about giving of yourself to others without self-interest. It is sharing your precious and limited resources for the benefit of another. Dang, that’s seriously nice. Be like that and look for people like that in your life.


Becoming responsible is adulting 101. It is the ‘eat your vegetables’ of being a grown up. I don’t know that many kids make it through adolescence without getting more than an earful on the subject. The thing is, it really matters. So just because you’re tired of hearing about it, doesn’t mean you should dismiss it as another stupid idea your parents blabbed about incessantly.

The best way to understand the importance of being reliable and responsible is your own personal experience with others that are not. The people that show up late every time, the guy that didn’t bring any money when going out to dinner or the people at work that never do their share. Irresponsible and unreliable people are all around you. Having them in your life, especially when you have to depend on them, is miserable. You can not count on them, especially when it matters.

Become reliable. Do what you say you will, every time. No excuses. You may need to learn to say ‘no’ as it is an invaluable technique for becoming more responsible. As an adult, you now have access to the answer of ‘no’. Learn to use it well.


I miss humility. I think it goes along with vulnerability. For me, humility is a recognition and comfort with not being the most important person in the room. Not making everything about you. Seeing the world through the eyes of others and valuing them in your life. In the age of the internet and social media, we are all telling the story of me and learning to brand ourselves. It’s like veryone is putting on a show and needs to be the biggest or the best.

Ask people to rate themselves on a scale of 1-10 and I would bet that 90% would be between 6 and 8, with about half a self-assessed 7. When the vast majority would describe themselves as above average to well above average, it means we don’t understand or accept the concept of average. Being average won’t do. Average is unacceptable.

I think humble people get away from competition with others. We can all win.

Positive Character Traits List





















Frugal (but not cheap)

Many of these I pulled from this list of positive character traits for writers.

Negative Character Traits List



Arrogant (at least in my book)






Cynical (Mixed feeling for me on cynical)






Many of these I pulled from this list of Negative character traits for writers.

Develop Character

Character is the real ‘who you are in this world’, and you can develop it. Who do you want to be? OK, be that guy. Choose the qualities you admire most in yourself and others and build on them. It’s not as hard as you might think. Just pay attention to the qualities you want to develop and recognize when they come up and do what that guy would do. And journaling would help, so pay attention and take notes.

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