Personality Counts

Chapter 53 of the book Self-Help Stuff That Works

by Adam Khan:

A PLEASANT PERSONALITY is important for salespeople and shopkeepers, but what about the rest of us? Isn't competence enough? Doesn't technical skill count more than anything?

A team of researchers at Purdue University wanted to find out. They studied the careers of a group of engineering graduates to find out if personality played any part in the engineer's level of success. After testing and follow-up, the researchers discovered that those who had the greatest mastery of the technical material made only slightly more money than the engineers with the least technical capability. But those who tested high in personality factors earned about 15 percent more than those with the high technical ability and about 33 percent more than those who tested low in personality factors.

Engineering is a technical field. And even here, personality makes a big difference.

Of course, in truly perilous conditions, where lives depend on skill, personality doesn't matter much. Or does it? For Charles Houston and Robert Bates, the leaders of an expedition, the most important quality they sought was personality. The expedition in question was the fifth attempt to conquer K2, the second highest mountain in the world. They needed a team of eight experienced climbers. What did they look for? At the top of their list was "a good personality."

Houston and Bates had learned from previous expeditions that certain qualities of personality can prove essential to a group's survival. They knew from experience that if they were to succeed, each mountaineer on the team must "be able to keep his good nature and add to the humor of the party when bad weather, danger, or hardships strain the nerves." Even here, even in harsh survival conditions, the principle applies.

No matter what you do or where you are, your personality counts. When you try to get along better with others, when you exercise or eat better or get more sleep to improve your disposition, when you learn to handle stress or conflict or nervousness or depression a little better it makes a difference. On an engineering team or at the top of a mountain or at the water cooler down the hall, it makes a difference. Personality counts.


Increase your ability to get along with people and improve your disposition.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your ability to get along with people is to commit a few
Unnatural Acts

No matter what happens, you can determine your disposition by an act of will. Consider the fact that, no matter what the circumstances,
Maybe it's Good

next: R-e-s-p-e-c-t

APA Reference
Staff, H. (2008, October 31). Personality Counts, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, July 24 from

Last Updated: March 31, 2016

Medically reviewed by Harry Croft, MD

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