9 Things to look for in Evaluating Character

John has always been very good at evaluating data but has made mistakes in not accurately judging the character and reliability of other people. He always wants to think the best about others, so he tends to believe what people tell him. At times this didn’t turn out well. Mary has helped him much in this area. We believe the essential thing in life is Agapaō Allélón, translated as Love One-Another.

Those who practice One-Another have the highest level of character. This is because they know deep down in their soul that this is the essential thing in life, the only thing that keeps us alive, and is to our detriment when we violate it.

1. Look at whom they marry. 

This tells you important things about people you can’t learn any other way. For example, a person’s choice of a spouse or closest lifelong partner—is much more revealing than anything they say or do in public.

This choice tells you about their expectations, innermost longings, and needs. It tells you what they think of themselves and what they will settle for or think they deserve. It is likely the clearest indicator of priorities and values you will ever find.

So the next time you’re introduced to strangers, spend at least a little time sizing up their partners.

2. Watch how they treat service workers & those “lower” than them

People reveal their true natures when dealing with others who can never return a favor and have less power. They feel immune and free of all consequences, so their true self comes to the forefront. 

How do they treat the person waiting on their table, cleaning up after them, doing the menial tasks they don’t want to do, etc.?

3. Find out about what their character was in the first two decades of their life 

Ask them about their earliest experiences and what they did before age twenty. How were their childhood, teenage years, and growing to adulthood?

People’s character and ability to handle challenges are almost entirely formed during the first two decades of their life. It’s not impossible, but very rare for individuals to change after that point.

I have also often said that if they haven’t started getting good in some area by 12, they will be behind those who had the early start.


4. How do they invest their most valuable resources of~ Time and Money?

Their calendar and monthly budget reveal what a person is all about. Observe how people allocate those two resources; you will understand them very profoundly. 

5. Identify what irritates them the most in others—because this is likely the trait they dislike most in themselves.

This is another instance in which people reveal things about themselves unintentionally. I’ve seen it so often in conversations that it’s uncanny. The flaw people hate most in others is usually their own most significant weakness. 

Cheaters invariably gripe that others are dishonest. The liar always accuses others of lying. 

Parents lose it when they see their children making the same mistakes they did. 

When we look in a mirror, we dislike seeing all the flaws in our appearance, and other people are like mirrors. We are far more likely to forgive a weakness we have never experienced than one we struggle with daily. 

6. Ability to listen and ask questions that draw them out

Some people talk, some listen, and some do neither. The worst are those who do nothing, and the best are those who listen AND talk to understand you better. Used right, it is one of the most powerful tools. 

Refrain from confusing not talking with passivity or laziness of the "not speak" and "not listen" person. 

Great listeners possess extraordinary skills of awareness and comprehension. They can assess situations with tremendous accuracy and act in ways that maximize group effectiveness. If you have one of these great listeners as a friend or colleague, you soon learn that they are an invaluable resource. 

7. Do they cheat at small things? Then, of course, they will cheat at big things.

A quote from one of my favorite  childhood Jungle Doctor books is: “Cute baby tigers grow big, and big tigers kill.” 

If someone breaks the rules for something unimportant and small, he will likely do so when higher stakes are involved. So don’t make that mistake.

8. Watch how they handle unexpected or even minor problems

I test people with unusual/unexpected situations or statements and see how they react. For example, some organizations have them play a team game like volleyball which will tell you a lot about a person. 

Some people in a stressful situation will rise to the occasion, and others lose their cool completely. 

If you’re around somebody long enough, you will see how they deal with unexpected problems. Those situations are precisely when their character and core values come to the forefront.

9. Do they love people and use things or do they love things and use people?

These aren’t just useful in evaluating other people. Perhaps the character you need to assess is your own. 

For example, do you treat service people fairly? Can you handle problems and inconveniences without overreacting? Are you trustworthy in small things? Etc.