Humility is a quality that seems to be in short supply these days. Loud, brash, selfish attitudes tend to command the most attention because they are often desperate for that attention.
The problem with overbearing pride is that it is often disconcerting and alienating. The arrogant person thinks they know better and can’t help but tell everyone that regularly.
And what happens to them? Sooner or later, that person will find themselves alone or just surrounded by the kind of people who have no problem wallowing in that negativity. That’s definitely not good. It’s hard to have healthy, happy relationships when an arrogant attitude pushes people away.
So, how do you be more humble? The secret is to adopt the habits of a humble person until they become second nature.
Pride and arrogance can be difficult to overcome. You may find that you still have some of those mannerisms and still fall into those patterns from time to time.
That’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect.
People often say they want to change, but sometimes we can’t change the core of who we are. Sometimes all we can change is the way we choose to act and our decisions because of it. Still, choosing better actions is an improvement, so don’t let that stop you.
The following habits of humble people will help you steer yourself toward a better path. These are common qualities of humility that are often shared.
Of course, not everyone has them all or can have them all. If you’re a prideful person trying to be more humble, we suggest picking one thing to work on at a time.
1. They maintain a proper perspective.
Many people confuse humility with self-deprecation. They are far from the same thing. Humility does not deny your positive qualities or accomplishments.
Humble people tend to have a balanced outlook on what they are and what they are not. Therefore, they can celebrate and enjoy their successes, take credit for their work, and enjoy the fruits of their labor.
There is nothing wrong or shameful about having positive self-esteem and some pride in your accomplishments.
The key is balance.
Humility should also acknowledge the other people who helped paved the way for that success. The humble person is gracious in winning and losing because they understand that there are other people who could have succeeded as well. They understand that there will be times where they lose too.
2. They own their mistakes and limitations.
Reasonable people understand that no one is perfect. Everyone has limitations and will make mistakes from time to time. This isn’t something that we should be ashamed of, as loathe as many people are to ever show weakness.
Most reasonable people will respect a person that makes a mistake and is honest about it. Quality leadership will typically value this kind of honesty because it’s better to step up and get the problem fixed than have it covered up, causing problems further down the road.
Yes, some people will try to use that against you. But don’t let that dissuade you from doing the right thing anyway.
3. They are teachable.
A humble person is a teachable person. No one knows everything. Frankly, it’s astounding how many know-it-alls have such little self-perception that they don’t realize just how ridiculous they sound as they try to BS their way around things they don’t know.
Other people can smell that BS a mile off. They usually just don’t say anything because they don’t want to start a fight or argue.
Understand that everyone in the world knows things that you don’t. Celebrate that as a positive thing to love the world for. Everyone has the potential to teach you something new if you can set aside your own pride and ego to accept the lesson.
How do you do that?
It starts with listening. Be a good listener. Pay attention to what the other person is saying while they are talking. Don’t think about how you’re going to reply until after they’ve made their point.
4. They ask for help when they need it.
Humble people ask for help when they need it, rather than stubbornly bash their head into the wall until they figure things out.
That doesn’t mean that you need to run to someone else every time you have a problem. Sometimes it is better to figure something out on your own. Maybe you’re trying to teach yourself a new skill or just like the challenge.
There’s nothing wrong with that.
It’s a problem when you have access to someone who can help you and you turn them down out of pride. You don’t need to spend four hours banging your head against a problem if you can just ask another person for a little help. It’s a waste of time and effort. And for what? To later realize you didn’t do it right and have to go back and do it again?
5. They raise up other people for their accomplishments.
Humble people are not afraid of seeing other people succeed. They give credit where it is due and celebrate the successes of other people. They are not shy about sharing credit in group projects and will celebrate success as a group effort.
But they are also not shy about owning the work they put into the success.
Some people would rather hide behind the group to avoid the spotlight. They may feel that it’s arrogant or prideful to acknowledge their victory. They may also just have trouble with positive attention because of the emotional baggage that they are carrying.
That isn’t helpful because it denies you your deserved credit. And credit does matter when it comes to decision-making and just reward.
Consider a group project at work. You want to ensure that your boss knows how you contributed to a project so that you don’t get passed over for promotions or rewards. You need to make sure you are speaking up for yourself. It’s unlikely that anyone will do it for you.
6. They do not believe they deserve special treatment.
Humble people do not believe they deserve special treatment because of their successes or special qualities outside of their realm of success.
It’s pretty reasonable for a star athlete to expect to be given ample opportunities to compete. It doesn’t make much sense to have your star player sitting on the bench for the game when they could be out playing.
The same can be true for any other skill. You might be a skilled artist, or tradesperson, or salesperson, or whatever, really. You might be top of your field, and you’re finally enjoying all the fruits of your labor and long hours of practice.
But does that make you a better person than other people? Somehow more deserving? Maybe in the context of your field, but not so much in everyday life.
Humble people understand that their success does not entitle them to special treatment.
7. They are receptive to other opinions and perspectives.
The world is awash with complex opinions and perspectives that come from a variety of life experiences. A humble person will understand and appreciate that other people have different opinions than they do.
Now, that doesn’t mean that you need to accept blatant untruths, misinformation, or people acting dishonestly. There are plenty of those people too.
But that’s not most people. Many people have good reasons for believing what they do. Let them express themselves and seek to understand.
It’s not a matter of believing or disbelieving. It’s a matter of considering the information and entertaining that you may be wrong or not entirely right about a particular thing.
If you find your beliefs challenged and you aren’t prepared to take their word for it, do some more reading and research on the subject.
8. They are grateful for what they have.
Humble people are grateful for what they have because they understand how easily they might not have it. Fate is sometimes a fickle thing. Nevertheless, good favor may come your way, make all of your work worthwhile, and enable you to accomplish your goals.
But sometimes, the reverse is true. Sometimes every little thing that could possibly go wrong does go wrong. Sometimes you can invest years of work into a particular goal and have it all blow up in your face by a third factor that you could not have possibly seen coming.
Life is like that sometimes.
Gratitude keeps you focused on being appreciative for what you have rather than what you don’t have and feel you deserve. It’s a powerful tool for building humility and grace.
9. They are truthful and honest.
Humble people tend to be truthful and honest. They don’t feel the need to avoid responsibility or worry about how they will look to other people for owning their mistakes. They understand that healthy relationships with other people and themselves cannot be founded on dishonesty.
The humble person views honesty as the best policy, even if it leads to negative consequences for themselves. The world is a much easier place to navigate when you’re not constantly embroiled in Machiavellian schemes or worried about other people discovering your truth.
One not-so-obvious tip we can give you about honesty is to avoid embellishing or being deceitful when you aren’t ready to be honest yet. If you’re not ready to have an honest discussion about something, you can just say you’re not ready to talk about the issue yet. It’s not optimal, but it’s also not dishonest.
Just don’t use it as a way to stall out forever. Don’t leave other people hanging if it was your responsibility.
10. They do not harbor grudges and forgive quickly.
Humility is a soothing balm for many negative feelings.
A humble person knows that people are flawed and complicated. They will accept that in themselves and other people.
They avoid grudges because they know that a grudge serves no great purpose other than disturbing their own inner thoughts. They will generally forgive quickly because they understand that holding onto those negative feelings does nothing healthy for anyone.
People will make mistakes. The humble person understands that they are certainly not above making bad decisions or doing the wrong thing from time to time. Therefore, they will acknowledge their own mistakes, apologize freely, and move forward, rather than beating themselves up over those bad decisions.
11. They try to put themselves in other people’s shoes.
Humility is the understanding that we are not necessarily better than anyone else. One way to develop empathy is to take some time to really consider where other people are coming from.
A good way to do this is to look toward people you really disagree with. For example, they might have a belief that just seems disgusting to you, for whatever reason.
What you want to do is get to the root of why that person believes what they do. Once you do that, you may find that the other person isn’t completely off-base with their belief or at least has some viable reason for believing what they do. It may not be a good reason, but it may be a reason nonetheless.
That doesn’t mean that you need to approve of wrong actions or beliefs. Some people are jerks because they enjoy being jerks. It gives them a sense of power and importance, and anger is an amazing drug. Still, it’s valuable to dissect these negative actions and beliefs so you can better understand them and yourself.
12. They are not possessive.
Possessiveness is often a sign of deep insecurity and envy. A humble person cannot be possessive because they understand that they are not entitled to anything. They are not entitled to the attention of another person, fancy things, or even success.
Entitlement is alienating and undermining of healthy relationships because healthy relationships are all about respecting boundaries.
Entitlement and possessiveness do not respect boundaries at all. And it’s not even just about respecting the boundaries of others; it’s about respecting your own boundaries.
It’s about loving yourself so much that you refuse to let other people treat you badly or take advantage of you.
It’s about creating positivity and happiness for yourself by allowing life to flow and people to be people.
To be possessive is to put yourself above other people, which is the exact opposite of humility.