Treating people by default in a friendly manner that invites further interaction and expresses respect.

a.k.a. affability, agreeableness, friendliness, geniality, being outgoing

At first, this looks like just sort of a common-sense “things I learned in kindergarten” sort of virtue. But it actually has a very commonplace and challenging element of conscience attached to it: A good example of a situation in which we struggle to find the Golden Mean of this virtue would be one in which we are among a group of casual acquaintances and one of them tells a joke that depends for its humor on the shared assumption of an offensive racial stereotype. Do we laugh in order to be agreeable, or do we signal our disapproval? When does our obligation to be agreeable and tolerant get eclipsed by our obligations to insist on better standards of behavior or our disgrace at being associated with shameful behavior? “Go along to get along” is a real problem, and it comes from being inattentive to the balancing act this virtue requires. Someone who is too prone to flatter others is also erring here.

Some people want to be agreeable and just don’t have a good idea what kind of vibe they’re putting out (e.g. the awkward). Other people developed disagreeableness as a strategy for keeping frightening people at bay (e.g. the gruff). And others are disagreeable as a side effect of other things they’re pursuing (e.g. the asshole). With such variety (and this is just off the top of my head), I’m guessing there will probably also be a variety of strategies to pursue in the course of becoming more agreeable. It may require a lot of work just to identify what’s causing your deficits in the first place before you start working on them.

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • abrasiveness
  • coldness
  • gruffness
  • hostility

Virtues possibly in tension


How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “The true gentleman is friendly but not familiar; the inferior man is familiar but not friendly.” (Analects of Confucius, XIII.XXIII)