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5 Behaviors that Demonstrate that you are a Humble Person

Humility is a great virtue but it is also something we often get wrong. At its core humility is the ability to avoid getting wrapped up in one’s own self importance. Humility is a very positive quality, not only in our personal lives, but also in our professional lives. Humility is an essential quality for good leadership and for healthy peer relationships.

If a person is humble then they are able to see themselves as unimportant. This does not mean that they see themselves as bad or worthless. Humility is not about thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less. A humble person is at peace with themselves and their value and does not need to viewed as significant by others.

But what are the behaviours, particularly in a professional context, that indicate that a person is truly humble? Fortunately there are a number of tell tale behaviours that you would really expect to observe in a person who is humble and if you exhibit these behaviours then a colleague or peer would most likely come to the conclusion that you are a humble person.

Is curious about others:

When someone is humble they will see others as important and significant. One of the consequence of this is that they will become curious about other people. They will interested in finding out how other people think and feel and who they truly are. This will go beyond simply engaging about task related matters.

Curiosity like this has an immensely positive impact on relationships. People tend to respond very well to this sort of curiosity directed towards them because it makes them feel worthwhile. We will gravitate towards people who make us feel like that.

Values other people’s ideas:

Beyond simply being curious about others, a humble person will typically value the opinions, ideas and inputs of others. When a colleague offers an opinion on something, the humble person will typically take note. Often this will be demonstrated by him/her wanting to know more about opinions and the thought processes behind the opinions. You can thus expect a humble person to often ask things like “why do you think that?” or “what is the rationale behind that opinion?”

Is willing to learn from others:

Over an above valuing other people’s idea, a humble person will be willing to learn from others. This follows naturally from valuing other people’s ideas. When you value the idea’s of others you will be open to changing the way you see things on the basis of what other people have to say about a matter and so will be open to learning from them.

Is able to admit when he/she does not have all the answers:

A humble person is open to the possibility that they might be wrong on something. The way I like to describe this is by saying that humble people do not have a lot of “psychological inertia” to considering views that contradict their own views. What you can expect to see in a humble person is that they use their own view only as the starting point with which to dialogue with you in order to come a position that is sensitive to the full story. They are comfortable letting go of their view and adopting a new one if they are presented with a reasonable case.

Does not get easily offended:

One of the most evident signs of humility is a thick skin. A humble person is secure in their sense of self-worth so what other people have to say about them, both good and bad, doesn’t really get to them in the way it might get to someone who is less humble. When you lack humility you like to stand out and be viewed as significant. When this is how you operate it will be easy for people to say things that call you significance into question and offend you.

Assad holds a Masters in Philosophy from the University of the Witwatersrand and is currently a PhD candidate. He is the editor of the Schuitema blog and is a regular facilitator of the company's Care and Growth and Mentoring for Mastery programs. He also has 5 years experience lecturing and tutoring Philosophy at Wits.