5 Characteristics of a Practical Person

5 Characteristics of a Practical Person

Last update: 16 June, 2018

A practical person focuses on carrying out concrete actions, and they tend to achieve clearly useful objectives with a more or less immediate reinforcement. For people who think and act this way, everything that does not have an advantage – and little risk – lacks interest or value.

For a practical person, the process or the method doesn’t matter as much as the result. If the result brings benefits, it is likely that the means to achieve them are justified. For them the abstract world of ideas, emotions or values ​​does not make much sense. They think if it works, it’s fine. If not, we have to explore the process to see what happened.

 “The challenge of modernity is to live without illusions and without becoming disillusioned”.

Antonio Gramsci

In principle, we may think that a practical person does not have doubts, but this is not the case. For them, concrete results simply are more valid than speculations or intentions. In some ways, they fear the latter because they know that usually they are only talk that never translates into specific action.

People with a practical inclination make very relevant contributions, especially during difficulties or crises. There are many situations in which acting is what matters, not speculating or theorizing. If a person has a heart attack, or a company takes a nosedive, someone needs to act. That’s when a practical person reveals their great potential. They also have other interesting features, which we will discuss below.

man and trees


1. A practical person is a realist

If a practical person has anything, it is a very well grounded sense of reality. They easily capture the essentials of a situation or a person. On that basis, they define how they fit into their plans and act, they do not stay lost in details.

More than just looking at how things could be, they look at how they really are. That becomes the underlying tone of their behavior. They can be blunt, or sometimes a little sharp, but they definitely have their feet firmly on the ground. Ideals and perfect worlds are not spaces they move in.

2. They are determined

When a person is practical, they set very clear goals and go after them. You don´t see them doubting, speculating or hesitating. Of course, they can also be reflective, but they easily choose ideas and translate them into acts. They prefer to try things in reality than play mental games.

All this makes them very determined people. They do not like beating around the bush or being wishy-washy. As we have said, they prefer to look at the validity of their goals and projects in the field, not just look at thoughts. They are able to change direction when concrete reality shows them that they are going the wrong way because they feel little attachment to the form or way as long as they are still looking at the same goal they set for themselves.


reaching for lightbulbs

3. They take risks

Visualizing the risks, measuring them, testing them and considering them with too much detail is not something that attracts a practical person. They understand that any circumstance involves eventual ups and downs. This does not stop them.

These types of people have their eyes on the results. They know that to reach a certain point, it is necessary to take risks and be willing to make mistakes. That does not cloud them. They trust that there is always another way to reach the same point. That’s why they do not back down when they face the possibility of failing.

4. They do not depend on praise or criticism

There is nothing more impractical than living according to the approval of others. Just to feel accepted, there are people who are willing to distort or change their ways, or they assume positions that even go against themselves. This does not happen to a practical person.

On the contrary, people with a practical perspective on life are aware that every action is subject to criticism.They do not depend on others to prove or disapprove of their idea in order to act. In this sense, they do not spend too much energy trying to please others.


hand and balloon

5. They know how to prioritize: they work with hierarchies and stick to them

Practical people are people of action. But for an action to be successful, it must have order and be clear. A chain of actions leads to good results when we know how to prioritize what is more important.

Knowing how to prioritize is having the good judgment to see which actions need the most attention. This includes seeing which must be done first to make others easier or possible. A practical thinker is good at prioritizing and following that order of priority.

You are not likely to find a person that is totally practical or another that is totally speculative. Almost all of us have the traits from one or the other and we apply them differently on different occasions. Each of these perspectives is very valuable and brings different benefits. They are complementary and not exclusive. Whatever the case, the truth is that it helps us all to cultivate this practical aspect a bit, especially when facing difficulties that require an immediate solution.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.