7 Positive Traits of Worriers

Man looking worried
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While many studies have shown the benefits of optimism in business, a growing body of evidence is gathering to support the need for moderate pessimism. In particular, people who are worriers or who tend to have negative moods often display these positive traits, more often than do habitually optimistic or cheerful persons:

  1. Diligence
  2. Persistence
  3. Detail-orientation
  4. Thoroughness
  5. Politeness
  6. Attentiveness
  7. Alertness to problems, risks and threats

    Pessimists, or people in a downcast mood, have been shown in simulations to act more rationally and logically than optimists or those in an upbeat mood, who are more likely to be excessive risk takers.

    By contrast, overly-optimistic people often act too hastily, without processing enough information beforehand. They also tend to discount potential difficulties, and thus to promise more than they can deliver, which inevitably damages their credibility. Be too pessimistic, on the other hand, and you can fall into the trap of paralysis by analysis (see the next section about negative traits).

    Meanwhile, companies that seek to create fun atmospheres at work with no negative talk run the risk of discouraging employees from speaking up about threats or problems.

    Negative Traits of Worriers: 

    Compared to those with an optimistic or cheerful bent, pessimists tend to be:

    1. Excessively cautious
    2. Less creative
    1. Overly stressed
    2. More close-minded

    Regarding excessive caution, see our discussion of paralysis by analysis.

    Best Jobs For Worriers:

    Researchers indicate that these occupations are best suited for worriers and other realistic, detail-oriented people:

    1. Actuarial science
    2. Accounting
    3. Engineering
    4. Computer Science
    5. Information Technology

      Pessimists or worriers, research shows, tend to do well in these fields because their outlook, focused on risk, promotes diligence. Interestingly, financial advisor and financial planner careers also may be suited for some worriers, as long as they channel that worry into thinking about clients in depth and producing customized strategies for them. In particular, people prone to worry often prove to be especially good at anticipating downside risks and planning for negative contingencies. As a result, they also tend to be especially good at preparing for job interviews.

      Not mentioned in the article cited below, these job categories and career tracks within finance and financial services also are good fits for pessimists or worriers:

      These are just a few examples, out of many financial careers that can benefit from a skeptical and detail-oriented outlook.

      Upbeat Versus Downbeat Personalities: 

      A 2007 study of 118,519 people that appeared in the publication Perspectives on Psychological Science indicated that very happy people tend to form more rewarding relationships, but less happy people tend to achieve more education and higher pay.

      People with moderate sadness, moreover, appear more adaptable to current situations and tasks.

      In summation, people with generally positive moods tend have these disadvantages versus those who have negative outlooks:

      1. More likely to overlook threats and dangers
      2. More apt to take undue risk
      3. More prone to be the victims of scams or lies
      4. Less likely to take responsibility for their actions

      But positive or optimistic persons usually can boast these advantages:

      1. More creative
      2. In better personal relationships
      3. Healthier
      4. Eager to explore new things

      Source: "The Unexpected Benefits of Being a Worrywart at Work," The Wall Street Journal, April 1, 2015.