Flawed but Likable Characters

The recent Wall Street Journal profile of business book author Pat Lencioni contained this graf about why his business fables have done so well:

In a pattern he has since followed, Mr. Lencioni used tips from screenwriting, creating "likable but flawed" characters, building tension and dialogue, and changing scenes quickly.

Bingo. Not only is this key to good fiction writing, it’s also key, I think, when you construct and present your own identity to the outside world. We’re all flawed in some way. Likable people are open about it.

Being open about your flaws can be a form of self-deprecation. As Mark Katz says in Clinton & Me, "Self-depreciation is one of the most effective tools for leaders who want people to like and trust them, it communicates strength and grounding. Most people’s public personae are made up of 2-12 simple, widely known facts. If you concede the obvious you’re conceding nothing, but you gain back credibility. That’s a trade you should make every time."

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