Believable characters in novels have flaws as well as strengths, whatever their roles in the story.
You know this as a person and a reader, but it’s no good recognizing that if you don’t see your own character strengths and weaknesses.
Of course, most of us have a much easier time knowing our strengths than identifying our weaknesses.
Strengths are great and help you achieve.
But those very human weaknesses have a part to play in your life, too.
Understanding how both contribute to your identity is a valuable part of emotional intelligence and self-awareness.
We rounded up the best for our list of strengths and weaknesses, along with some helpful examples.
See which qualities jump out as you read.
Benefits of Knowing Your Character Strengths and Weaknesses
While talents and “gifts” are innate to each person, strengths are qualities you can cultivate in yourself and encourage in others.
Strengths are teachable. So are weaknesses.
Both strengths and weaknesses acquired early in life need attention, too.
But to live consciously and grow into your potential, you need to know the strengths and weaknesses you have.
Before we dive into the lists, let’s consider the benefits of that knowledge:
- Knowing your weaknesses makes it possible to work on them — If you know the tools you have on hand and the challenges you face, it’s much easier to make the most of the former and mitigate the risks from the latter. Knowledge is a tactical advantage as well as a strength in itself. You can’t fix what you can’t see.
- Knowing your strengths leads to improved health and well-being — Knowing your strengths helps with positive self-talk, fostering confidence and self-love while reducing negative emotions, self-criticism, and loneliness. How you see yourself has a significant impact on your overall health and capacity for happiness.
- Knowing your weaknesses helps you empathize with those who share them — Knowing your specific character weaknesses enables you to recognize them in others, too. And instead of judging them for what you see, you’re more likely to empathize with them. You may even learn from them how to deal with those weaknesses.
- Knowing your strengths and weaknesses helps you appreciate diversity — No one is just like you, but many others — people of all races, genders, and beliefs — can share some of your strengths and weaknesses. Seeing that can help you appreciate your differences and what you have in common with others.
- Knowing your strengths gives you a social and professional advantage — The sooner you know your strengths, the more easily you see them in others and can use that to build and nurture personal and professional relationships. Knowing yourself is essential to knowing and using your best advantages.
- Knowing your strengths makes it possible to develop and use them — If you know your strengths, you can consciously apply them, which reinforces them and helps them grow, to your benefit and that of other people. Also, the more you use your strengths, the more you see their potential — and your own.
- Developing and applying your strengths makes life richer and more fulfilling — Knowing and applying your strengths opens doors to more opportunities to use them. Taking advantage of those opportunities leads to learning and growth, which are essential to your fulfillment and life satisfaction.
- Knowledge and cultivation of strengths lead to greater success — The more you play to your strengths, the better your life becomes, and the more clearly you see the kind of success that really matters to you. Putting your strengths to work and addressing your weaknesses helps you become the person you want to be.
- Understanding your weaknesses can help you turn them into strengths — Sometimes, a weakness is a strength in disguise; the real problem isn’t the quality itself but its overgrowth. Other times, something at the heart of that weakness can be a strength. Your tendency to reserve doesn’t have to manifest as shyness.
85 Personality Strengths and Weaknesses List
Read through this strengths and weaknesses list to see which qualities stand out for you. You can also make a list of the qualities you want to cultivate in yourself or encourage in others.
Personality strengths (or character strengths) are qualities that shape how you live, talk, and act from an early age. As their name implies, they help you along the way.
And knowing your strengths is an even more significant advantage than having them.
1. Seeing / Looking for the Good in Others
2. Honest / Forthright / Frank / Sincere
3. Authentic / Genuine
4. Confident / Self-confident / Bold
6. Patient / Enduring
7. Kind / Compassionate / Merciful
8. Decisive / Quick-thinking
9. Determined / Indefatigable / Unsinkable
10. Creative / Imaginative
11. Intelligent / Brilliant / Sensible
12. Perceptive / Alert
14. Wise / Insightful
16. Curious / Inquisitive
17. Sociable / Friendly / Gregarious
20. Thorough / Careful
21. Conscientious / Hard-working / Diligent
22. Efficient / Focused
23. Organized / Orderly
24. Communicative / Open
25. Generous / Giving
26. Humble / Teachable
27. Persuasive / Emotionally Intelligent
28. Reasonable / Fair
29. Charismatic / Natural Leader
30. Practical / No-Nonsense
32. Innovative / Inventive
36. Loyal / Faithful
37. Flexible / Open-minded / Broad-minded
38. Brave / Courageous / Willing to take risks
39. Helpful / Cooperative / Team Player
41. Reliable / Punctual / Dependable
42. Self-disciplined / Self-directed
44. Neat / Tidy / Meticulous
Like strengths, weaknesses impact how you think, act, and speak. But unlike strengths, weaknesses hinder rather than help you along the way.
Still, we prefer to think of them as personal challenges rather than defects. When you’re aware of your weaknesses, and you take action to address them, growth becomes easier.
45. Unkind / Merciless / Lacking in compassion
46. Unjust / Indifferent to justice
47. Slothful / Lazy / Indolent
48. Gluttonous / Lacking in Self-Control
49. Greedy / Grasping
50. Arrogant / Conceited / Elitist
51. Lecherous / Ruled by Lust
52. Envious / Covetous
53. Inconsiderate / Thoughtless
54. Independent to an Extreme / Unable or Unwilling to Ask for Help
55. Cynical / Pessimistic / Expecting the Worst
56. Distrusting of Authority / Rebellious
57. Guarded / Unable to Trust
58. Aloof / Unsociable or Asocial / Antisocial
59. Resentful / Bitter / Unforgiving
60. Argumentative / Querulous
61. Dishonest / Disingenuous
62. Flaky / Unreliable
63. Narcissistic / Self-Centered
64. Short-tempered / Combative
65. Needing to be Right (all the time)
66. Perfectionist / Compulsive / Nit-picking
67. Inflexible / Stubborn / Obstinate
68. Humorless / Unable to Laugh at Yourself
69. Playing the Victim / Blaming Others
70. Refusing to Take Responsibility (for your own words and actions)
71. Conflict-Avoidant / Passive-Aggressive
72. Dismissive / Uncaring / Lacking in Empathy
73. Insecure / Lacking in Self-Confidence / Shy
74. Bossy / Dictatorial / Pushy
75. Manipulative / Controlling
76. Workaholic / Addicted to work or to productivity
77. Close-minded / Narrow-minded
78. Unfaithful / Disloyal / Untrustworthy
79. Aggressive / Seeking to Intimidate or Bully Others
80. Impulsive / Careless / Acting without Thinking
81. Unorganized / Messy / Chaotic
82. Sloppy / Unkempt / Unhygienic
83. Condescending / Pedantic
84. Judgmental / Quick to judge
85. Risk-Avoidant / Risk-Averse
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7 Examples of Personality Strengths
Now that you’ve looked through the lists above let’s look at some examples of strengths in action. Make a note of any that strike you as familiar. Or try writing one of your own.
1. “He’s brilliant as well as creative and funny as hell. And to top it off, he’s got the kind of confidence I wish I had.”
2. “She’s hopeful but guarded. She wants to see the good in everyone, but experience has taught her to be careful—sometimes too careful. She needs a friend.”
3. “You’ll never meet anyone more generous, authentic, and genuinely kind than Mitch. He was there for us when everyone else forgot we existed.”
4. “Since she started speaking up for herself and taking more risks, her life has gone from bleak and boring to rich and fascinating. I’m taking a page out of her book.”
5. “I know it sounds like a small thing. But not everyone would have made sure that lost child was safely reunited with his family. Not everyone is kind.”
6. “She’s braver than I was at her age. She didn’t hesitate when the teacher asked her to perform in front of everyone. And if she was nervous, she didn’t show it.”
7. “He’s my favorite study partner, not because of his intelligence but because of the way his mind works. He’s insatiably curious. And he sees the most bizarre connections. I can’t help but laugh at some of them. He’s changed the way I think.”
7 Examples of Personality Weaknesses
Now, to be fair, let’s see some examples of personality weaknesses to see how they play out in real life (or in fiction):
1. “She was halfway through her sentence when he gave a dismissive wave, muttered something she couldn’t quite hear, and walked off to greet someone else.”
2. “She learned conflict-avoidance at an early age. It cost too much to disagree with the people she relied upon. She found safety in quiet diligence, getting things done without costing anyone more than the bare minimum of expense or attention.“
3. “She walked into the office looking as if she hadn’t showered in a week, unkempt, with visible wrinkles on her blouse and scuff marks on her suede ankle boots. ‘Coffee first,’ was all she said as she headed for the breakroom.”
4. “He’s not a bad doctor, really. But that condescending tone he took when I was going through labor… He’s lucky I couldn’t reach him.”
5. “She can’t seem to help trying to boss people around even though she’s not the boss anymore. That’s about to catch up.”
6. “He has a hard time trusting anyone, even those who’ve done the most to earn his trust. It’s as if he can’t help seeing in others everything he’s come to expect from people. Nothing makes a dent in that armor.”
7. “She’s good at faking empathy for the camera. She’s a two-faced elitist who will always represent the interests of the 1%. Those are her people.”
Now that you’ve gotten this far, which character strengths and weaknesses resonated with you most?
Which strengths do you see in yourself that you’d like to develop further? What weaknesses are you most keen to work on? And what will you do differently today?