Part 2 - The Impact of Character

Part 2 - The Impact of Character

mother correcting child

Character is the Glue That Holds Society Together

The Better You Are The Better Your Children Will Be

The Impact of Character

By far the thing that influences behaviour more than anything else is character or the lack of it. As a general rule, the more desirable the character attributes a child possesses, the better is their behaviour, and the more positive character attributes that exist in the parents and teachers the more likely there will be positive character growth in the children. In fact, we influence, for good or not so good, everyone with whom we come into contact. The more contact, the greater the influence.

If you are in a position of authority, such as a manager, supervisor, principal, teacher or parent, the first port of call is for you to be in character what you want those who are under you to possess. You have the power to change the whole atmosphere of the workplace, school or home. Your influence can be one that creates tension, suspicion, resentment and alienation, or one that engenders happiness, trust, companionship, security and appreciation. Which environment will be more productive of good behaviour? Whether our character is positive or negative, without having to say anything, we automatically communicate it to others through body language, much of which we are unconscious.

A second focus is to make sure, as far as you are able, to serve the needs of those under your supervision. Meeting needs is of particular importance in the home. The better the character, the more successful you will be at satisfying others' needs.  Meet people's needs, and their behaviour improves. It will be edifying to take a close look at the various ways people need to feel safe.

The need to have the security of feeling safe is almost universal. People need to feel safe whether they are at home, at school or in the workplace. Anxiety and stress replace security when we feel unsafe. Even if individuals are not hurt themselves, but witness any form of abuse, they can have the same negative emotional reaction, and behaviour is affected.

Verbal and emotional abuse occurs too frequently in homes and workplaces. In schools, some students suffer abuse from teachers, principals and other students. Children have a keen sense of justice. When they feel unfairly treated, they act out. The same goes for the school or workplace where bullying is particularly damaging.

Loneliness and feelings of alienation and social isolation can lead to antisocial behaviour. Many a child or adult may appear on the surface to be happy and well adjusted, but underneath they may be crying out for someone to be a friend, or they may be seething with anger and rebellion as a result of not feeling loved and accepted.

Will anyone, adult or child, respect themselves if they have negative character traits? Will a person who is a thief, murderer, abuser, addict, liar or controller have self-respect? In the main, no. Too often if people have no self-respect, they don't respect others. They place little value on themselves, and they place a low value on others. Their behaviour towards others is not positive. However when people with low self-worth are treated respectfully by others, particularly by those who are significant in their lives, they can learn to respect themselves, and consequently, others. It is often possible to turn around antisocial behaviour.

I guess you can't understand another unless you have compassion for them, so the two go together. By showing empathy and understanding, you are showing respect. A person with a good character is more likely to show empathy, respect and understanding for others. So why do you think good character traits are gradually disappearing from society? Maybe it is because it is not a teaching priority in homes and schools.

We all like, even need, to be appreciated. A lack of appreciation dampens the spirits and can lead to despondency. A tendency to apathy can develop along with a slackening of enthusiasm in what we do. In business, it leads to less output and minimal customer service, in schools students underachieve and in homes, a gloomy house and strained relationships. In all environments, patterns of behaviour develop that are challenging to everyone.

There is a sense of satisfaction we get when we are successful in learning a new skill or increasing our knowledge in certain areas. This satisfaction can contribute to our feelings of achievement and a sense of self-worth. The outcome of these positive feelings is more productive and cooperative interactions with others. On a regular basis, we need to give opportunities for improvement.

Many students, workers and children are walking on eggshells because of the lack of clear directions. The expectations of others are to them confusing. They feel very insecure lest they offend and suffer unwanted consequences. Much stress, anxiety and unwanted behaviour could disappear if expectations and boundaries were defined. 

As the saying goes, 'All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.' Aren't some children getting into trouble because they are not keeping up with the work expected? Regular opportunities for various forms of appropriate physical and mental recreation should be made available; it only takes a couple of minutes for the brain to 'refresh'. Short breaks sharpen the mind, improve concentration, increase productivity and reduce injuries and mistakes. In general, attention spans in adults and children have dropped considerably, so it is all the more essential to program into the day periods of recreation.

This vital concept blends the two topics above, 'Physical Safety' and 'Emotional Safety.' Like a harbour to a ship in a wild storm, so should we be to all those we meet.

To Summarise

The better the character, the better a person can satisfy another's needs. Satisfy someone's needs, and they are more likely to be cooperative and develop a better nature. This change is affected by feelings of appreciation and respect, and a desire to be like the person who helped them.

The Burden Doesn't Rest With the Administration Alone

Workers and children also need to be aware of the influence they have, for good or bad, on those with whom they come into contact. They also have a certain amount of responsibility for the atmosphere in the workplace, classroom or home. Again, the better the character, the better the behaviour and the better the behaviour, the better the influence on others. Administrators and workers would gain significant rewards if all were committed to character development. Imagine the impact on the company's bottom line if there was better customer service, fewer sick days, more happiness, more contentment, increased productivity, more security and better behaviour at all levels.

More Information

More information on this topic can be found in the Article Library series, 'Character Development'.

Go to Character Development Part 1 - It's Bigger Than You Think.

A Very Useful Resource

I am glad I came upon this chart of positive character qualities because it also provides the antonyms (opposites) which help with understanding the terms. A definition of each positive quality is also listed. I found this chart very helpful, even though challenging at times, in my self-evaluation. I call the chart the Chart to a Better World and a Happier Me.

You can access this chart and others by visiting Character Trait Lists. The source website for '49 Character Qualities' is

Richard Warden


Next Article in this Article Series: Part 3 - Meetings Are Safety Valves

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