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This is part 3 of 7 of the “7 Traits Employers Value” series.

To review a bit, here are some of the previous Thursday’s opening paragraphs:

Most of us, when we write our resumés, focus on our hard skills. Today I’m going to look at 7 personality traits that are valued by employers in today’s uncertain world.

Historically, our hiring systems can seem to be off these days. One of the issues believed by employers and searchers alike is that “hard skills” are the traits that make sure the company runs at it’s best.

What? Hard skills don’t matter?

And yes, while someone obviously needs to have the appropriate technical skills, it is 7 “soft” personality traits that make the company go ’round and ’round. It is the way you do what you do that counts most for what employers value today. No matter your role in the company, everyone is in sales at some point in the company’s existence. Anyone that ever deals with a customer, a future employee, or a colleague is a salesperson for the firm’s culture and values.

A large team of diverse people, acting like a team through the pre-game ritual of one person's hand on top fo the other, and the other and the other.
Photo by fauxels on Pexels.com

For instance, what happens when there’s a customer emergency? What happens when that customer has gone off of the deep end for (apparently) no reason? What happens when your employee feels slighted in their job review? What happens when people need to work cross-departmentally with strangers?

What happens when you review a job posting, and you seem to have all the “i”s dotted, and the “t”s crossed, yet you don’t even get an interview?

What happens when you get interviews, but you don’t get the job; especially after several attempts with different companies?

Have you ever heard of people being hired for a job they were seemingly unqualified for? And to make matters worse, you were better qualified, and you didn’t get the job?

Some management people call this “getting the right person on the bus, and then finding the right seat for them to occupy.”

In other words, in the past, we’ve often hired the person we like the best, rather than the best candidate. In the past, we’ve downplayed the 7 personality traits that employers now value.


Here is a list of the 7 personality traits employers value most – especially in “hot” situations:

  1. Someone that actively listens and communicates well (diffuses conflict)
  2. People with emotional intelligence (EQ), and know how to manage their own emotions
  3. Patient people (humble people)
  4. “No Drama” folks (see numbers 2 and 3, above)
  5. People that can manage themselves
  6. People that can focus on a task
  7. People that can practice self-care during the workday, and be more effective as a result

Let’s look at those one at a time, over the next few episodes. Here’s number 3 of 7:


If you are an “English Major,” you may see only slight differences in the 7 parts of this discussion. And you know what? You’d be pretty much on point.

Many of these points – especially 1-4 – are incredibly close in meaning. But there is a slight difference. One difference may be that people that listen well (point 1) may not have all the patience in the world. They may hear the other person’s point of view, end up agreeing with it, and want to get going on the new direction, and then move on to the next thing. RIGHT NOW.

People that can manage their own emotions may do well inside the company, but then blow up at home, mentioning that they had hit their boiling point. They may have finally lost their tempers on the road home, suffering road rage.

For folks that have a high EQ, they may become SO enamored with that EQ that they may feel empathy for the wrong person (in the eyes of someone watching from afar).

Wait… What?

Well, if you were to empathize with a person with questionable character, values, or thoughts, then someone that knows that person well may find YOU are the objectionable one. If this happens too often, then your judgement may be called into question.

But let’s get back to Patient People

“Patience is a virtue.” We’ve all heard, if not said, this old saw many times in our lives, I’m sure.

In a nutshell, it means you can wait for something (seemingly better) rather than taking an action on something right now. In other words, you may be able to delay gratification. Could this make you a more valued employee? Could this be one of the 7 valued traits by employers today?

Walter Mischel performed research in the ’60s and ’70s on just this topic. His research focused on having younger children (ages 3-5) sit at a table where there was a marshmallow on a plate. They were told that if they could wait for the researcher to return, they’d get 2 more for a total of 3. The researcher would be gone for as long as 20 minutes, but usually about 15.

Interestingly, those children that were able to delay their gratification during the marshmellow test usually did better in terms of cognitive ability, their ability to manage stress and frustration during adolescence, and they even did better on their SAT scores.

Now, I’m not saying that any child that is able to delay their own gratification is automatically going to be a better employee in their adulthood. These results MAY be true, but they may also not be true.

Hey – let’s do that marshmallow test again

In later years (2013), the test repeated, but with two other pre-tests added. The changes attempted to show the children whether the environment was “stable” or “unstable.” In this testing scenario, the two pre-tests consisted of this:

1) they were asked to complete an art task – make a crayon drawing. All of the children were given old, used crayons, and they were told that the researcher had to leave the room to get a new set with more colors in them. After 2.5 minutes, half of the researchers returned, but “forgot” the new crayons. In the other half, the researchers came back with the promised new set of crayons.

2) pre-test number 2 was similarly constructed and executed, but using stickers.

3) then the marshmallow test was repeated. In the first half of the children (in the unreliable setting), the children ate their marshmallows within about 3 minutes.

In the second group, the average wait time was about 12 minutes (a substantial difference!) before the children ate the marshmallows. This “proves” that nature and nurture can have an effect on the outcomes of tests and the ability on whether to delay gratification.


Several researchers, including Mischel, repeated the tests again in the late 201xs, and found that, instead of younger people (ages 3-5 again) having less ability to delay gratification (as was almost expected given cell phones, streaming video, and on-demand everything), this ability was actually enhanced.

The researchers suggest that the rise in IQ over the last few decades may also cause an increase in EQ. They went on to say that, with the changes in the economy, globalization and changes in technology, that people now have an improved ability to think in an abstract sense. Having this ability allows one to enjoy a greater ability to perform executive tasks. Perhaps making this one of the 7 best overall traits employers value.

Even with all of this, no one has been able to say with any certainty that the ability to delay your own gratification equates to the ability to be a better employee. Much more study needs to be completed and following the scientific method more closely.

Point of the Post

Patience with others is indeed a virtue. And you can cultivate and improve it.


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