Two women have a serious conversation at a desk.

A lot of myths are thrown around about how you should act and behave at work. Be polite but not too polite. Be forceful but not pushy. Be selfish but not self-serving.

It can be easy to get caught up in all the things you should or shouldn’t do professionally to the point that you forget to be yourself. And you forget that the things that make you unique are actually your biggest strengths, no matter what the experts say.

The truth is, your supposedly “bad” personality traits can actually be your greatest assets when used in the right way, in the right environments. Here’s how to embrace your “negative” personality traits to help you do your job better.

1. Stubbornness

Stubbornness is often conflated with close-mindedness or inflexibility, but sticking to your guns can be hugely beneficial at work—especially when it comes to advocating for yourself. Being stubborn shows that you have boundaries that you will not cross, and that you know your worth. Far from being a negative trait, stubbornness in the right context can help you push for what you deserve and to stand up for what is right. 

Stubbornness can also be a way to preserve your unique identity, especially if you’re stubbornly refusing to compromise on your values, ethics, and morals in the workplace. If you believe in something strongly, then being stubborn is the best way to be.

2. Loudness

If you were told you were too vocal, too boisterous or just “too much” when you were growing up, you probably learnt that being loud was a negative personality trait. But at work, it can be a huge bonus in the right teams.

People who are ‘too loud’ are often the people who are the most spirited. They can be fiery, confident, outgoing and opinionated. When used in the right way, these traits can be a major asset to the team, helping you speak up for others, charm a crowd, deliver engaging presentations, hold your own in negotiations, and more.

Chances are you’re not ‘too loud,’ you’re just in a team where your personal brand of self-confidence and self-assertiveness are not recognized and valued. Find a team that appreciates your extraversion and allows you to use it to full advantage.

3. Reservedness

While being loud can be a huge plus at work, being more reserved can also work for itself. Not everyone in the team has to be outspoken or spotlight-seeking. Having a reserved personality is often associated with being more thoughtful, analytical and introspective. You can work to a high standard with minimal fanfare, and that's hugely valuable.

Reserved people tend to be great listeners and observers, able to pick up on important details and patterns that others may miss. They excel in results-driven workplaces where your achievements are tracked and measured in concrete terms, rather than based on who can shout the loudest.

4. Excitability

The same traits that will be seen by some managers as overexcitable and drama-queeny will be seen by others as energetic, cheerful and bubbly. If you’re naturally upbeat and fun-loving, it’s far better to embrace this personality trait rather than try to squash it. An overexcitable personality type is only a negative if you’re stuck in a work environment that doesn’t value the power of optimism and equates good work with being overly serious and dull.

The so-called overexcitable team member is usually the one who’s able to bring energy and life to a team, even when the chips are down. They’re often the first ones to strike up a conversation and celebrate their colleagues’ wins and they’re a huge asset to have on a team thanks to their ability to instantly lift the mood.

5. Candor

There’s no doubt about it, being direct at work will annoy some coworkers. Some people cannot handle the blunt, hard truth, even when it's delivered with the best intentions. But while candor may rub some people the wrong way, honesty, transparency and open communication actually are highly sought-after traits in the business world.

Candor can help to prevent misunderstandings—you tell it like it is and you don’t skirt around the issue. The genuine feedback you give can help improve, refine and advance the team’s ideas, helping you produce better results. 

6. Kindness

While kindness is rarely seen as a negative outside of work, a common complaint in the workplace is that someone is ‘too nice,’ ‘too kind,’ or ‘too polite.’ In many work environments, kindness is seen as a synonym for being a pushover. But kindness is not a negative personality trait (no matter what people might tell you).

Being open-hearted towards your coworkers can help people to feel more psychologically safe and cared for, which encourages a spirit of inclusion. In a workplace that values inclusivity, kindness becomes a vehicle for making people feel at ease around you, and thus able to express their opinions and contribute fully. 

If you’re being sidelined for being kind at work, it’s a strong indication that you’re not in the right place for you. You can be kind and still be assertive. You can be kind and still be successful. If you have to be rude and obnoxious to make yourself heard, then it’s probably your colleagues and managers who are in the wrong.

How to identify and harness negative personality traits at work

Personality traits that are perceived as negative or unwanted in work environments are actually just misunderstood. If you can learn how to harness the “bad” personality traits that you try to hide, you can push for more creativity and innovation at work. To learn more about the unique aspects of your personality, try taking a work-oriented test like the DISC or Typefinder for the Workplace to find out where your hidden strengths lie and what you can bring to the table.

And in truth, if your employer or your team doesn’t recognize the benefits of your so-called negative traits, even if you’re delivering results, then it could be a sign you’re in the wrong work environment. The things that one manager will discipline you for, another one will celebrate. 

Time and time again, we see people who are labeled as ‘difficult’ at work switch to a new workplace or team and be rewarded for the same qualities they were previously punished for. If you’re too stubborn, loud, reserved, bubbly, candid or kind for your current workplace, then it’s probably them. Not you. 

Elizabeth Harris
Elizabeth is a freelance writer and ghostwriter. She’s an anthropologist at heart and loves using social theory to get deeper into the topics she writes about. Born in the UK, Elizabeth has lived in Copenhagen, Frankfurt and Dubai before moving most recently to Budapest, Hungary. She’s an ENTJ with ENFJ leanings. Find out more about her work at