8 signs that you’re a truly decent person, according to psychology

There’s a stark difference between being nice and being genuinely decent. It’s all about authenticity.

Being nice can sometimes be an act, put on to please others. But being decent? That’s about doing what’s right, even when nobody’s watching.

According to psychology, there are certain traits that set truly decent people apart from the crowd. And you might be surprised by what they are.

Here are 8 telling signs that you’re a genuinely decent person, as backed by psychology. No sugar-coating, no airs and graces – just the raw truth. Ready? Let’s dive in.

1) Empathy is your superpower

One of the key indicators of a truly decent person is their ability to empathize.

Psychology suggests that empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another – isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a fundamental trait that underpins decency.

Now, empathy isn’t just about saying “I understand”. It’s about really feeling what another person is going through, and responding with kindness and compassion.

It’s about walking a mile in their shoes, seeing the world from their perspective. It’s about being there for others, not because you have to, but because you genuinely care.

So if you’re someone who naturally empathizes with others, good news. You’re showing one of the significant signs of being a truly decent person. But remember, empathy requires action – it’s more than just feeling sad for someone; it’s about doing what you can to alleviate their suffering.

True decency shines through in actions, not just words.

2) Honesty is your policy

Let me tell you a little story about honesty.

A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where I accidentally received an extra $50 in change from a cashier. It would have been easy to walk away, pocketing the extra cash. But something didn’t feel right.

Instead of ignoring that feeling, I decided to walk back into the store and return the excess change. The look of relief on the cashier’s face was priceless. She thanked me profusely, admitting that the error could have cost her the job.

Now, I don’t share this story to pat myself on the back. Rather, I tell it as an example of how honesty plays a crucial role in being a decent person.

Psychology tells us that honesty isn’t just about not lying. It’s about integrity, about doing what’s right even when it’s not convenient, even when no one is watching.

So if you’re someone who values honesty and practices it regularly, even in small ways, you’re displaying another sign of a truly decent person. It might not always be easy, but in my experience, it’s always worth it.

3) You’re quick to forgive

Holding grudges can be a heavy burden to carry. It’s like drinking poison and expecting the other person to suffer.

On the contrary, forgiveness is a trait that’s strongly associated with emotional intelligence and is often found in truly decent people.

According to research from Emory University, forgiveness can lead not only to healthier relationships but also to lower levels of anxiety and stress. It shows that you’re capable of letting go of resentment and negativity, which is a sign of maturity and emotional strength.

If you’re someone who finds it in your heart to forgive, even when it’s hard, you’re showing another sign of being a genuinely decent person. Remember, forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting or condoning harmful actions, but it means choosing your peace over prolonged bitterness.

4) You respect boundaries

Respect for others’ boundaries is a clear sign of a truly decent person. This extends from respecting personal space to respecting people’s time, emotions, and decisions.

Decency isn’t just about how we treat people in their presence, but also how we respect their wishes when they’re not around. It’s about understanding that no means no, and yes means yes. It’s about not pushing people into things they’re uncomfortable with.

Respecting boundaries shows that you value other people’s comfort and autonomy. You understand that everyone has a right to their own personal space and feelings, and you make a conscious effort not to infringe upon that.

So if you are someone who respects the boundaries of others, you’re demonstrating another key trait of being a truly decent person. After all, respect for others is a cornerstone of any healthy relationship.

5) You practice kindness, always

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see, as Mark Twain once said.

Being a genuinely decent person means practicing kindness, not just when it’s easy or convenient, but always. It’s about being kind to people who can never repay you. It’s about being kind when no one else is, when the world seems harsh and unkind.

Kindness is more than just a trait; it’s a lifestyle. It’s choosing to be a light in someone else’s life, choosing to lift others up instead of bringing them down.

It’s those small acts of kindness – a warm smile, an understanding nod, a helping hand – that often make the biggest difference. They may seem insignificant to you, but to the person on the receiving end, it could mean the world.

If you are someone who practices kindness every day, in every interaction, you’re showing one of the most beautiful signs of being a truly decent person. Because at the end of the day, kindness is a choice that comes from incredible strength and grace.

6) You’re not afraid to admit your mistakes

A while back, I made a significant error at work. I had misunderstood a client’s requirements, and as a result, my team and I spent weeks working on a project that was entirely off-base.

When the mistake came to light, I felt a knot in my stomach. My first instinct was to deflect blame or to downplay the error. But I knew that wasn’t the right approach.

Instead, I gathered my team, admitted my mistake, and apologized. We then worked on rectifying the error together. It wasn’t easy admitting I was wrong, especially in front of my team, but it was necessary.

Admitting when you’re wrong can be one of the most challenging things to do. It requires humility, courage, and a willingness to take responsibility. But it’s also a clear sign of being a genuinely decent person.

Decent people understand that they’re not perfect. They make mistakes like everyone else. But they also recognize the importance of owning up to their errors and learning from them.

So if you’re someone who can admit when you’ve messed up and take steps to correct it, you’re demonstrating another key trait of being a truly decent person. It shows that you value truth over your ego, growth over comfort.

7) You’re consistently reliable

Reliability is a trait often overlooked, but it’s a cornerstone of decency. It’s about being someone that others can count on, consistently.

If you say you’re going to do something, you do it. If you make a promise, you keep it. It’s as simple and as complicated as that.

Being reliable means demonstrating that you value others’ time and trust. It shows that you take your commitments seriously, and you’re not one to let people down.

Reliability might not be the most glamorous trait, but it’s certainly one of the most valuable. It builds trust, strengthens relationships, and sets the foundation for mutual respect.

So if you’re someone who takes pride in being dependable, congratulations! You’re showing another clear sign of being a truly decent person. After all, reliability is less about grand gestures and more about consistent actions over time.

8) You strive for personal growth

At the heart of being a truly decent person lies a commitment to personal growth. It’s about recognizing that no matter how good you are, there’s always room for improvement.

Personal growth isn’t just about becoming better for your own sake. It’s about improving so that you can contribute more to the world around you. It’s about becoming the best version of yourself, not just for you, but for the people in your life.

If you are someone who is constantly striving to learn, grow and improve, you’re showing the most significant sign of being a truly decent person. Because decency isn’t a destination; it’s a journey. It’s about striving to be better today than you were yesterday, and aiming to be even better tomorrow.

Final thoughts: The beauty of decency

Being a truly decent person is more than just a series of actions or habits. It’s about embodying a set of values and principles that guide your behavior, even when nobody is watching.

It’s about being the best version of yourself, not just for your own sake, but for the people you interact with every day. As Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

So, if you find these signs in yourself, take a moment to appreciate the person you’ve become. And if you don’t, remember that every day is a new opportunity for growth and improvement.

Decency isn’t just about how we treat others; it’s about how we treat ourselves, how we view the world, and how we choose to live our lives.

So here’s to decency – to the quiet strength it represents, the kindness it fosters, and the change it has the power to bring.

Ava Sinclair

Ava Sinclair is a former competitive athlete who transitioned into the world of wellness and mindfulness. Her journey through the highs and lows of competitive sports has given her a unique perspective on resilience and mental toughness. Ava’s writing reflects her belief in the power of small, daily habits to create lasting change.

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