What Does It Mean to Be an Affable Person? 5 Surprising Qualities

It is not surprising that affable people are comfortable in crowds and love people. We have all been around that person that seems to make everyone feel welcome and at ease. Yet, is that all there is to being affable?

Being an affable person means being pleasant to talk to, allocentric, and approachable. They are also polite, gracious, warm, and have concern for the well-being of others. They turn out to be excellent leaders, collaborators, communicators, and inclusive motivators.

The error that many make when they meet someone that is affable is to assume that they are also pushovers or weak willed. Nothing could be farther from the truth. These next 5 qualities of an affable person could change yours or your child’s future. We are social people and affable people know the secret to moving and inspiring others. That could turn out to be a very valuable ninja skill in any situation.

By the way, if you would like to start your Little Ninja on the path to good character I have several children’s books on amazon.com. Check them out.

Is Being Affable the Same As Being a People Pleaser?

Before we get to the qualities, there is a common myth associated with affable people. We should look at it and explore the reasons it is just that, myth.

So, is labeling someone affable just a euphemism for saying they are a push over and a people pleaser? It would seem so on the surface, but what would be the difference if we looked a little deeper into what affable people are doing? We will find that they are not simply trying to mold themselves into what other people want.

Affability Is Not a Trait Of the Weak Minded

Being a ‘pushover’ is what we would say of someone that is incapable of defining their own position and character and defending it from forces from the outside. This means they are not sure of themselves and are looking to offer whatever others want in order to find self worth.

Affability does not share these traits. The affable person is:

  • secure enough with themselves to focus on the other
  • still able to retain their own identity
  • They could be the life of the party
  • or in the corner being a shoulder to cry on to a friend in need

They can do all of this and not let it affect their sense of self.

It it is a social ninja skill that I wish I could have more. I have a strong sense of self, but at times can be a bit unapproachable and centered on my own plans for how an interaction will go. We can all learn from these smiling centers of many social gatherings.

People Pleasers Tend to Want Acceptance At the Cost of Self

On the other side of the coin we have people pleasers. They tend to want to gain the acceptance of others by putting their needs first at the detriment of their own well being. They get a sense of identity from the fulfillment of the desires and needs of other people.

This type of attitude toward interaction can lead to…

  • higher stress levels
  • depression
  • low self-confidence
  • low school and job performance

To truly be an affable person, a self assured, well adjusted person can stave off the temptation to allow themselves to devolve into the role of satisfying others to gain self worth. To be well rounded individuals, we all must guard against extremes in all of its forms. Pleasing others to support our own view of ourselves is an extreme corrupted version of affability.

What Can Real Affability Do For Us?

Research done at the University of Edinburgh and published in the eLife journal with apes showed that they lived loner and happier if they were affable. They concluded in the study that in humans and apes alike enjoyed greater longevity of life due to the “protective effects of low aggression and high quality social bonds.

5 Reasons Being Affable Turns Selfish Children Into Productive Adults

We have all seen the selfishness inherent in children. It is natural for them to not be able to distinguish the social benefits of caring for the needs of others from their internal drive to provide for their own desires. As parents, it is our responsibility to teach them how to foster social bonds that they will greatly need now and later in life.

Being truly affable can cure a host of these tendencies and lead to a longer, more contented, and productive life. It isn’t something that our kids are born with, though some my have more of a proclivity to it than others. It is something we must teach them through modeling and those all important teachable moments.

  • Besides contentment and a longer life, what else can being affable do for us and our children?
  • Can it actually have a positive effect on our success in careers?

Studies and experiences of human resource departments of many types of companies agree, it most definitely can.

So, what are these qualities that affable people share and what can they aid us in our pursuit of success? Here are the 5 qualities that can lead to fulfillment and efficiency in school and the workplace.

#1 Affable People Are Natural Leaders

Not all leaders possess affable personalities or share in their strengths, but many of the most successful ones do. These leaders seem approachable by those under their guidance which leads to more organic interactions and spontaneous idea collaboration.

In a study done on behalf of the American Psychological Association and published in Psychology: A Journal of Human Behavior, researchers found that social style leadership and flexibility in regards to the styles of others in a university setting was optimal.

This social style of leadership is the definition of affability with its:

  • expressive
  • amiable
  • motivational
  • people oriented focuses

This type of leadership is effective in adaptation in high stress environments like the university organizations of the study. This same success in leadership can also translate to the corporate and retail worlds as well.

We have all seen the stark differences that a boss can make with the right mix of authoritative and interpersonal skills. If an administrator is truly affable and not simply a pleaser, they will be seen not as weak and compromising on things that matter, but strong and a problem solver with human dignity at the forefront.

#2 Multicultural Environments Aren’t Challenges For Those With Affable Traits

My wife has been a classroom teacher for nearly three decades. One of the places we lived was Los Angeles, California. Her job as an educator there took her to the barrios of East LA. Not only that, my oldest son attended the school in which she taught.

Former site of Excel Middle School in Lincoln Heights, East Los Angeles, California

For those that don’t understand the immediate significance of those two Southern bred people thriving in that environment, let me explain.

Firstly, my wife has a professional, but extremely affable countenance. People seem to want to tell her their problems and confide in her things that astonish her on a regular basis. I say it has a lot to do with her beautiful smile that she gives out freely, but maybe that’s because I am biased.

She had open gang members in her middle school classrooms that at that young stage in their lives were already fathers and usually at least beginning drug dealers. How could anyone ever hope to teach pre-algebra and the importance of higher education in that environment?

Affability. Those kids loved her. She was firm and had boundaries that they knew not to cross. She enforced it with sarcasm and a courage that should never have fit into that 5′-2″ frame. Both of which they respected.

But the one thing that made them love her was the fact they felt they could come to her with anything. In an environment that told them life is too hard to make it past their early twenties, she told them they could make it to college and beyond.

My oldest son spent two years there as the only non-first generation immigrant in the school. His ability to attract others to him with is open and accepting personality gained him many friends and even protectors.

This environment for a closed off or rigid person could have been near torture. Yet, he to this day has fond memories of both the good times and even the hardships during those years.

Can affability change your child? Could it make you more able to thrive in the middle of varied cultures and differing world views? Absolutely. It could be your secret ninja weapon. It could also bring experiences and memories you could never imagine possible.

#3 Dealing With Clients And the Public Comes Naturally to the Affable

Affable Teachers Make Affable Classrooms

For teachers the public many times becomes contained within the microcosm of their own classrooms. There are interactions with other teachers and administrators as well, but the majority of their interactions are with students during instruction.

These interactions not only have an affect on the students, but leave a great and lasting mark on the teachers themselves. Their work environment plays a significant role in their longevity in the teaching profession and their effectiveness while there.

Michael Anderson (Photographer) National Cancer Institute

In a study done by researchers at the University of North Carolina and published in the journal Childhood Education, teachers in their first year of teaching were found to be able to contribute greatly to the creation of an affable environment in the classroom due to their own skill sets.

This ability contributed to their retention rates in the profession. Teacher attrition is rising and one of the primary causes according to this study is the loss of social skills found in those with affable characters in students and teachers. These researchers claim that teachers can combat this with their own efforts to correct the environments in which they find themselves.

In Retail and Corporate Jobs Affability Is A Strong Asset

This is also applicable in the business world and not just the classroom. Customer relations and client satisfaction relies heavily on the points of contact with companies. These people connecting clients with service and goods providers need to be enthusiastic and empathetic towards customer needs and desires.

Affable character traits lend directly to creating friendly and positive experiences for clients and effectively retain customers. These characteristics can make you and your child extremely appealing to prospective employers in the future. One of the toughest aspects of a company’s quest to achieve success goals is dealing adequately with clients and the general public.

#4 Collaboration Is a Strength For Affable People

Working together as a ‘Team Player’ can’t be stressed enough when going into the work environment. Affability plays a key role in solidifying productivity in the workplace. If members of a team or work group don’t feel comfortable working together, it has to be address before any business goals can be reached.

In an article covering several studies on the American Psychological Associations website APA.org, researchers suggested that rude behavior or incivility had a huge impact on businesses, their employees, and their customers. Rudeness reportedly increased employee absenteeism and decreased sales performance.

Rude is labeled by Thesaurus.com as an antonym of affable. It carries with it a lack of ability and selfish motivations that are not present in affable character traits.

This sort of collaboration also applies to schools. Unfortunately, so does rampant cases of rude children in much need of instruction in civility and affability from parents and teachers. Expecting these children in some cases to work together has to be put on hold until they are taught to give up many of their selfish tendencies and learn to give importance to the place of others.

Teaching your child to be affable will not only make them better able to learn, it may increase the learning ability of many in the class. They will become the glue that keeps groups together and the one teachers and other students look to in order to motivate and direct projects. This will be an invaluable experience for their future.

#5 All Forms of Communication Are Right Up the Affable Alley

Solid communication abilities are essential in:

  • interpersonal relationships
  • client transactions
  • structured meetings
  • leadership roles
  • teaching assignments

When I was a teenager, believe it or not, I had a hard time communicating in a crowd. Today I have brought myself to the point, that hundreds or thousands of people don’t affect me. The place I started long ago was with Dale Carnegie’s world renowned classic, How to Win Friends and Influence People. If you struggle with this part of affability and would like to take one of the first steps to change, get his book on amazon at this link. You will be glad you did.

One aspect of an affable person is their ability to listen and care about what someone else has to say. Listening skills are a major part of communication and communication is invaluable to any business. To find someone able to hear what someone else is saying and connect with them where they are at is a highly prized skill indeed.

Then there is the art of relaying information in a way that is both interesting and informative to clients and coworkers. This can come in the form of small one on one interactions, formal meetings with groups of collegues, or larger public speaking responsibilities. Affability is a firm foundation you or your kids can stand on in order to provide the highest value to others with the least amount of stress.

Communication also takes the form of the written word. Grant proposals, article writing, and journal publications are to name but a few of the vast array of responsibilities one can foresee in a future following many differing avenues.

Communication takes on many forms and it is important to be proficient in all of them. Character traits linked with the affable person can make communication second nature. It can become an asset that sets you or your child apart.

Everything from building relationships to communicating needs can be done more effectively and efficiently by an affable person. It will just be a lot more fun along the way as well. If you make other peoples environments easier to navigate, yours will inevitably get better as a result.

The Affable Takeaway…

Being an affable person means knowing who you are and then using that strong sense of self to aid you as you turn and begin to connect and care about the needs of others. Affable people tend to be warm, inviting and approachable. Yet, this in no way means they are ‘door mats’ to be taken advantage of by unscrupulous people.

Strength of character and self confidence are trademarks they live by. They are inclusive leaders, great public servants, energetic team players, and amazing communicators. They are an asset to any business.

Whether the road ahead for you or your child is to teach others, build companies, or lift those in need out of their situations, affability in your toolbox will serve you well. It could make the difference between sinking or swimming if the environment becomes hostile or rough. No matter the situation, if it involves people, affability will give you a significant advantage in life.

If you want to give your child a winning edge, teach them to be affable. They will not only rise to meet the challenges that meet them on the roads ahead, but can help others along the way reach their goals. A life well lived, full of character, and having had the ability to help others leads to true happiness in the end.

Mathew Booe

Mathew Booe is a father of four, husband to Jackie since 1994, retired international competitor with over 50 wins, an international seminar instructor, a master instructor of hundreds of Little Ninjas each week, and the one bringing you the great content like you just read. Sign up for the newsletter to hear about his upcoming books before they are released to the public.

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