Watch out for these traits and characteristics to tell if someone is worth your time and energy
I was reading a book called “What Happened to Lani Garver” by Carol Plum-Ucci when a line instantly grabbed my attention:
“If you can understand human behavior, it can’t hurt you nearly as much.”
It felt like a strong sign telling me to change — I sucked at knowing people’s hideous intentions. Their charming personalities would often trick me into overlooking the red flags waving in front of my face.
I would give them the benefit of the doubt and trust them until they’d inevitably betray me.
That’s why I took that line very seriously.
Learning to decipher people’s actions allows you to trust them more fully. In a world where not everyone can be counted on, it’s important to watch out for subtle signs that can help you identify people of great character.
It can also save you from the mental trauma of being cheated on and become more confident while investing in relationships or professional partnerships.
From the psychology books I read, documentaries, videos, and TED talks I watched about human behavior, I’ve gained a greater understanding of people’s true character.
It has also made me more conscious of my public behavior display.
Now, I can see through a person’s facade within minutes, and I know who to avoid like the plague.
If you’re bad at determining a person’s true character like I used to be, don’t worry. I will share with you some striking signs of a person’s true character based on my learnings, experience, and research.
#1. Oddly Specific Compliments
Did you know that when you meet someone, your brain scans for social cues to determine whether they are a threat or not?
Yes, you unconsciously judge their tone, facial expressions, and body language. You have a finely-tuned danger radar that you can spot when someone is being phony.
The problem is, sometimes, this radar gets thrown off by someone who insists on being over-the-top friendly and complimentary in an oddly specific way.
I was recently at a networking event where I met a woman who insisted on telling me how impressed she was with my dress sense. It wasn’t just that I was well-dressed, but that my choice of clothing showed excellent taste, considering the event we were at.
I was wearing a simple black blazer. It wasn’t special.
In fact, I’d worn it to several events before.
The woman’s compliments felt phony and forced.
I got the sense she was trying to flatter me into doing business with her. It didn’t work.
I’ve since learned to be wary of people who go out of their way to give compliments that seem insincere or inauthentic.
#2. The Cruelty to Animals
A study of 48 serial killers by Dr. Robert K. Ressler, an FBI profiler, found that 36% had a history of harming or killing animals as kids.
It’s a trait shared by many school shooters as well.
While not all animal abusers become murderers, it signifies a disturbed individual.
It’s a person who is cruel for the sake of being cruel and takes pleasure in the suffering of others. They may not have developed empathy for other human beings yet.
But when it comes to safety and sanity, it’s imperative to keep a distance from such individuals.
#3. The Litmus Test
A few years ago, I was having dinner with a group of friends at a fancy restaurant. One of my friends, let’s call her Sarah, was very rude to the waiter. She would snap her fingers to get his attention, roll her eyes when he didn’t understand her order, and generally make him feel inferior to her.
I was appalled. Not only was she being rude, but she was also unnecessarily mean.
Later that night, I brought up the incident to one of her friends. I asked if Sarah always treated waiters and bartenders like this.
Her friend said that Sarah was actually a very kind and generous person. She always went out of her way to help others, even strangers.
But when it came to waiters and bartenders, she felt they were beneath her. She didn’t see them as human beings worthy of respect.
I was surprised by what I learned. It’s easy to be kind to people we think are our equals.
But it’s much harder to be kind to those we think are beneath us.
The next time you talk to someone, pay attention to how they treat waiters and bartenders. Do they treat them with respect, or do they act like they’re entitled to better service than everyone else?
#4. The “I Won’t Tell if You Don’t” Deals
You know the person. They do something bad and then come to you, saying, “Hey, I did this thing, but don’t tell anyone. Promise me. Cross your heart. Swear to God. I won’t tell if you don’t.”
It might be a white lie, or maybe they cheated on a test or their taxes.
But this person is testing you, seeing if you can be trusted with information.
And it’s not a good sign.
These people are always looking for an angle, a way to game the system. They are also less truthful and more likely to take advantage of people. They might seem charming initially, but eventually, their true colors will show.
And when they do, it won’t be pretty.