6 Small Character Traits That Tell You A Lot About Someone

Tom Stevenson
Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

One of the biggest issues many of us face in our lives is our ability to read people. Despite technological advances, and the human race being more knowledgeable than ever before, we still lack the ability to decipher other people.

This is one of the reasons conmen are still in business today. No matter how much we’ve progressed, we can still be poor judges of character. Without the ability to read minds, we have to second guess people’s intentions.

Most of us are decent folk, however, there are times in life when you come across the wrong people. Often, these people will appear to be nice and friendly on the surface, but over time they reveal their true colours.

Of course, it would be advantageous if we could see this from the start and avoid any hurt or financial trouble that we may suffer. Fortunately, there are still some signs that you can look out for.

Most people don’t declare they’re selfish, nasty or lacking in confidence. Instead, they try and mask these traits. But, if you look closely, you’ll be able to spot them.

Without realising it, every day we display who we are through small acts that often go unnoticed. If you take stock of the following six behaviours, they can tell you a lot more than you realise about someone.

How they treat people in customer service

After I graduated from university, I worked in customer service for ten months. My job was to take bets from members of the public on sporting events.

It wasn’t the most glamorous job and rather dull. However, it did give me an insight into how people treat others. One thing I noticed is if someone thinks you are beneath them, they will treat you with contempt.

This didn’t happen often, but when it did, you realised that the person wasn’t empathetic or nice. Put simply, in these scenarios, you’re in a position of power.

I was supposed to oblige customer’s wishes regards their bets. A waiter’s job is to cater to the needs of a customer. Things can and will go wrong, orders will get messed up and people will get annoyed.

However, that doesn’t give you the right to look down on those working in these jobs. When you do, it says more about you than it does them. I was trying my best whenever it happened to me and it gave me more empathy towards people working in customer service as a result.

In the end, it comes down to the golden rule, treat people the way you want to be treated.

How they handle money

Working in a betting shop, I saw up close what people are like around money. On a few occasions, customers won thousands of pounds on bets or the slot machines in the store.

Whether we could pay them on the spot was dependent on how much money we had in the store. If not, we had to have an awkward conversation, telling them we had to get the money together before we could pay them.

Often, there were two reactions to this. The most common was one of acceptance and a willingness to come back later to collect their winnings. The second was one of anger at why they couldn’t get paid immediately.

Turns out a lot of people think a betting shop is like a bank. That there is a limitless supply of money behind the counter. For security risks, this is not the case. The differing reactions from customers told us a lot about their character.

Sure, we’d all like to get the money straight away, but sometimes it’s not possible. The lack of acknowledgement of this showed that they didn’t understand and we’re only thinking of themselves.

Many other situations involving money reveal a lot about people. Do they offer to split the bill or say quiet? Do they tip the waiters or not? Do they offer to buy their friends a drink or not?

All of these actions may seem insignificant, but they reveal a lot about a person’s character.

If they keep eye contact or not

Back when I was in school, I suffered from low self-esteem. I had no confidence in myself and was painfully shy. One of the things that I struggled to do was keep eye contact with people.

This was often the case when I was in awe of someone or unnerved in their presence. I struggled to keep eye contact and either kept my eyes rooted to the ground or looked at everything but the person I was talking to.

This is often the case with introverted people. They can find it hard to maintain eye contact with others because it makes them feel uncomfortable. This was the case with me.

Another part of eye contact is whether people make it at all. I’ve had a few conversations with people where they barely made eye contact with me but not because they were shy. The rest of their body language indicated confidence, but they failed to look in my direction for more than a few seconds.

This is often a sign of feeling superior to the other person, or a signal they aren’t a fan of you. If you’re friends with someone, you’ll have no difficulty making eye contact with them. It solidifies and strengthens the friendship.

That’s not the case if you don’t like someone. Even looking at that person can be painful. Watch out for this the next time you speak to someone. Their eyes can say a lot more than you realise.

How they react to failure

Failure is something that we all face at one time or another in our lives. How we react to it reveals a lot about our character. I know from my own experience that people who treat failure as a lesson usually do much better than those that don’t.

I remember doing worse in my end of school exams, GCSEs for those of us in the UK, than I thought I would. I got good enough to complete the final two years of high school, A-Levels, but I wasn’t happy.

Instead of being annoyed at my results, I used it as motivation to do better in my A levels. I worked harder than I had before. Read my textbooks, took lots of notes and took my work seriously.

After the end of our exams in the first year, it had paid off. I got full marks in one exam, five off full marks in another, and twenty off full marks in the other one. Far from pulling me down, my failure the previous year inspired me to greater heights.

Someone’s reaction to failure is a telling sign. Do they get angry and blame everyone else? Do they shrug and not seem to care? Or do they endeavour to learn from it and do better?

My inkling is that those that do the last will do the best in life.

How they act on social media

Social media is a big part of our lives and it’s also a revealing insight into it. One of the most revealing platforms is Instagram. The photo-sharing website is one of the most popular on the web and reveals a lot about a person.

The photos people are who they want to portray themselves as on the web. Often, you’ll see glamorous photos, lots of selfies and snaps of where they’ve been on holiday.

What they share says a lot. It shows what they value and how they would like others to see them. Facebook is another platform where people reveal their true colours.

What articles do they share on their feed? Do they share lots of weird and random videos? Do they write long posts and share more than they should? What this tells me is that these people are insecure and looking for approval from others.

If they’re sharing wacky conspiracies and articles from dubious sites, it tells me they have drunk the kool-aid and gone in deep on some mad theories.

Twitter is the same. What people share about themselves or what they post on their feed reveals a lot about their character and beliefs. Often, I think it’s the people that post less frequently on social media and who keep themselves to themselves that have their house in order more than others.

How they drive

This may seem like an odd thing to include, but your driving style says a lot about you. As someone who has been on a lot of road trips, I’ve driven a lot myself and spend long periods with others.

What I noticed was that everyone drove a little differently from each other and that their personality was often related to how they drive. For instance, I consider myself calm and level headed. As a result, my driving style is smooth and consistent.

There’s no point in driving fast like a madman just to get somewhere quicker. That’s often how you crash. Another of my friends is desperate to get places because he gets bored behind the wheel.

One drive back from Scotland to our city in England sticks in my mind. It was six hours long and he was so determined to get back quicker, that he maintained a high top speed for a good hour to make the journey quicker.

It’s no surprise that he gets bored quickly and doesn’t like to waste time. The way we drive is often an extension of ourselves. Slow and careful drivers are often that way in life, those who chug along at 60mph are often level-headed. While those of us who put the pedal to the metal are often more adventurous and extroverted.

Next time you’re in the car with a friend or on the road yourself, observe how others drive. You’ll soon realise that their driving styles are a window into their personality.

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