'Bad' Personality Traits Explained — And 12 That Are Actually 'Good'

It's just a matter of looking at them in a different light.

Last updated on Mar 03, 2023

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Admit it. You have parts of your personality and character that society says are "bad." You've grown up being criticized because your room was always a mess, or because you spent too much time daydreaming or procrastinating.

These positive and negative personality adjectives describe the aspects that make up the culmination of your mental and physical characteristics, which are a combination of your innate traits, and those you're taught and learn as you grow.


So, if you still have this huge lump of guilt now because you still have all of these negative personality traits as an adult, you may not realize you're not lacking anything.

As it turns out, your bad personality traits aren't, well... that bad.

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What is a bad trait? Is there really such a thing?

Personality traits, in general, are the way in which people outwardly express themselves to others. They reflect your thoughts, feelings, belief systems, and even how you were raised.

When you describe someone as being extroverted, shy, or hot-tempered, those are all aspects of someone's personal adjectives — their character traits. And while everyone is different, as a whole, society usually deems some traits good and other traits bad or even just neutral.

Essentially, good or positive traits are those that are believed to be the most beneficial to well-being and resilience, while bad or negative traits are those that may cause harm, disruption, or other difficulties.


Helpfulness, for example, is considered good because it's obvious how such a trait would benefit everyone in a given society. Mean-spiritedness, however, is considered a negative personality trait because it can cause derision and upset.

And if someone is soft-spoken, it's closer to neutral rather than a negative trait; it doesn't outwardly benefit anyone, but it also isn't something that hugely detracts from someone's perceived personality — in other words, a personality flaw.

Many people consider arrogance, vanity, and others to be among the top "bad" characteristics, but there are actually more than six. There are some specific negative traits to avoid altogether, as they don't offer any positive reactions and only cause problems.

While some can be considered redeemable in some fashion, others don't quite have that same distinction.


Basic List Of Negative Traits

1. Abrasive

2. Antisocial

3. Apathetic

4. Callous

5. Childish

6. Compulsive

7. Confrontational

8. Controlling

9. Cowardly

10. Cruel

11. Defensive

12. Devious

13. Disloyal

14. Disorganized

15. Disrespectful

16. Extravagant

17. Flaky

18. Foolish

19. Frivolous

20. Gossipy

21. Greedy

22. Grumpy

23. Hostile

24. Humorless

25. Hypocritical

26. Impatient

27. Indecisive

28. Inflexible

29. Irrational

30. Irresponsible

31. Jealous

32. Judgmental

33. Manipulative

34. Materialistic

35. Melodramatic

36. Morbid

37. Nagging

38. Nosy

39. Obsessive

40. Paranoid

41. Perfectionist

42. Possessive

43. Prejudiced

44. Pretentious

45. Reckless

46. Resentful

47. Rowdy

48. Scatterbrained


49. Self-destructive

50. Sleazy

51. Stingy

52. Stubborn

53. Tactless

54. Temperamental

55. Timid

56. Uncommunicative

57. Uncooperative

58. Unethical

59. Ungrateful

60. Vain

61. Vindictive

62. Violent

63. Volatile

64. Withdrawn

Many of the traits listed above may seem obviously negative, but not every personality trait is so blatantly good or bad. Some traits commonly thought of as negative can be used in a positive way, even if they're perceived as flaws or problematic traits.

Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but there are "bad" personality traits that might actually be good for us to have, at least some of the time. So flaunt them with confidence!

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Here are 12 bad personality traits that can actually be pretty good.

1. Procrastinator = You work well under pressure.

Putting things off, and off, and off. And then, at the last minute, comes all the stress of meeting that deadline. You berate yourself, claiming that next time, you'll start earlier... but you won't. It's just part of your makeup.

But, here's the good thing about procrastinators: They've learned to work this way and do it very well. Yes, there are people who simply do a better job under stress, and you may be one of them. While others plod along and overthink everything, you don't have the time.

So you sit down, focus, and after a night of no sleep, it's finished and every bit as good. It's actually a common trait in many successful people.

2. Selfish = You're great at taking care of yourself.

Most of the time, being selfish is a good thing.


Think about the friends and colleagues you know who are "people pleasers" — you know, those who cannot say "no" to anyone. They spend their lives often being resentful and martyr-like, or they continually seek high praise for all they do. They aren't developing themselves.

Being selfish eliminates stress and means you take better care of yourself — both mentally and physically. You know who you are and what you want. Of course, it's not good in extremes, but those individuals are a minority.

3. Sensitive = You have more empathy toward others.

Being sensitive can make things more difficult for you, but also be helpful, so that's not a bad thing! Being overly-sensitive means you have a difficult time with criticism, taking it very personally even when the criticism involves something related to work.


On the other hand, it makes you sensitive to the feelings of others, too, and that's certainly a good thing in many instances.

Being mindful of the sensitivities of others makes you the "diplomat in the room." This trait also means that you're more empathetic than others, and being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes is a valuable skill.

4. Messy = You're highly creative.

Clutter: some people can't tolerate it; others embrace it. Traditionally, messiness has been connected with laziness and lack of productivity. The facts say otherwise when you consider that Einstein, Steve Jobs, Mark Twain, and Mark Zuckerberg had and have extremely cluttered workspaces.

A study from the University of Minnesota, in fact, determined that people who live in clutter are often highly creative. In fact, messiness can actually be a sign of high intelligence!


This makes sense because creativity is a right-brained activity. Left-brained people are linear organized individuals who can be neat freaks.

5. Egotistical = You're extremely confident.

We all know people who have this trait to an extreme. They dominate conversations and it's all about them, and they aren't fun to be around. But again, these are a minority.

A healthy ego, even a very strong ego, is often a good thing. It means that you have solid confidence in yourself and that you have a sense of self-satisfaction, are comfortable in your own skin, and feel quite capable.

6. Shy = You accomplish a great deal alone.

Shy people are introverted individuals who have difficulty engaging with strangers and with large groups of people. While others may see this as a flaw, shy people are incredibly reflective and are the ones who come up with great solutions.


They like to work alone, accomplish a great deal, and don't need approval and praise from others. Introverts are in high demand in today's workplace because they're productive, thoughtful, and quite creative.

7. Neurotic = You're super-attentive to detail.

Are you a person who can't seem to let things go? Do you ruminate about things that went wrong yesterday and what crises might come up tomorrow? Then you are a bit neurotic.

On the other hand, neurotic people often turn that "flaw" into a true positive in the workplace. They tend to stick with something and persevere until every last detail is hammered out.

These are the conscientious, detail-oriented people that are so necessary for certain career positions today.


8. Distractible = You have unique problem-solving skills.

People with ADD are distractible, jumping from one subject to the next; they can't seem to stick with one thing until it's finished but prefer several things going on at once.

But research says you're of above-average intelligence. And you welcome so much into your brain at a time, you may be the one with the unique solution to that problem. Life is never dull for you.

9. Pessimistic = You bring realism to all situations.

"Negative Nellies" is what these people are usually called. They always see the negative side of every situation, so how can they possibly ever be happy? Others tend to avoid them, and they often only have friends with the same trait as their own.

But think about this another way and you'll find an upside to pessimism. When tough decisions have to be made, or problem-solving has to be accomplished, the value of the pessimist shines through.


This is the individual who can come up with all of the "cons," when everyone else is only thinking of the "pros."

10. Lazy = You're an innovator.

Lazy people are unproductive people — that's just common knowledge. They tend to get by with the least amount of work possible and are often daydreamers, always finding an excuse for their behavior.

But lazy people are often inventors and innovators. They spend time trying to discover easier ways to get things done. They're also quite good at finding ways to get paid for the things they love to do.

11. Impulsive = Your split-second decision-making pays off big-time.

This trait leads to risk-taking, blurting out whatever comes to mind, and making decisions quickly with never a backward glance. This is the individual who wakes up one day, sells everything, buys a camper, and goes off to discover the "world."


This behavior then forces him to take action in a new direction which may be exactly what he has wanted to do. Impulsive people may make bad decisions, of course, but when they make good ones, the rewards are marvelous. Life will never be dull.

12. Cynical = You never fall victim to scams.

Cynics see conspiracies and the "evil" that lurks within everyone. Others always have ulterior motives; government officials are all a bunch of crooks.

But a healthy amount of cynicism is quite a good thing because it keeps one from being the victim of scams and frauds. Cynics tend to proceed with caution — a valuable quality today.

Now, don't you feel better? You probably have one or more of these traits, and now you know how you can justify them and turn them around into plusses in your life.


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Alice Calch is a blogger and writer, currently working at GhostProfessors. She writes primarily about health, self-improvement, motivation, and success. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.