When you’re trying to gauge other people’s character, the little things are often the most crucial element to focus on.
It’s all in the details – the underlying tone of their voice, the fleeting facial expressions, the tendencies to bring up certain topics and not others.
A good judge of character catches all the nuances of someone’s behavior and masterfully puts them into overarching patterns using their intuition and logical thinking.
It’s a bit like having your own secret superpower.
Okay, I know what you’re probably asking yourself right now – are you a good judge of character?
Let’s have a look at the 8 little things a good judge of character notices about others and find out!
1) Nonverbal cues
Since non-verbal communication accounts for around 55% of all conversations, this isn’t exactly a little thing – but hear me out.
As I said, details reveal a great deal about a person.
A good judge of character can see the way someone carries themselves and guess – often correctly – if their approach to life is passive or assertive.
Are they slouching? Are their feet turned away from everyone when chatting as if they’re already one foot out the door?
What about their handshake, is it firm or weak? Do they try to take up as little space as possible or are they sitting like they own the place?
The way someone’s body occupies a space tells you a lot about their own self-esteem.
2) The shifting of emotional energy
Let’s enter a more abstract space now, shall we?
A loud intuitive voice paired with excellent methodological thinking makes for a brilliant judge of character.
But do you know what boosts your chances even more?
Being an empath. Empaths are so in tune with the emotional energies swirling in their environment that they can easily tell when someone’s mood’s changed – even if it’s not so obvious to the naked eye.
They can tell when you get jittery, annoyed (a mask of impenetrable stone won’t help you here; they’ll notice the curtness of your voice and the rigidity of your posture, and they’ll just know something’s not right), or distracted.
And if something’s really wrong, they probably notice even before you open your mouth to tell them.
They “just have a feeling”.
3) Slight changes in behavior when moving between social groups
To a certain degree, we all put on different masks based on what social situation we’re entering.
As the sociologist and author of The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life Erving Goffman put it, “We are all just actors trying to control and manage our public image. We act based on how others might see us.”
But these changes can be so slight that not everybody recognizes them.
You might have a friend who becomes more reserved the moment you enter the university grounds; you might find that your co-worker is confident when speaking to you but a people-pleaser as soon as the boss is in the room.
I, for one, easily notice the changes in my friend’s behavior when he moves between groups such as his family, male friends, a partner, and myself.
In every setting, he’s a subtly different version of himself. It’s kind of hilarious to watch.
Then again, I probably do the same.
4) Using humor to cover up one’s insecurities
The topic of behavior opens up a large pool of little things that a good judge of character automatically notices about others.
And the use of humor is one of them.
Insecurities translate into people’s behavior in many ways, from obsessing over them – “but are you sure I’m not too much of a bother? I can leave right now, just say the word!” – to projecting them onto others – “your hair’s pretty thin, people like us can’t wear this hairstyle”.
If you’re an excellent judge of character, you take notice of how people deal with their insecurities and whether they use humor as a coping mechanism.
Do they make self-deprecating jokes, laughing at their own wounds? Do they make mocking remarks about others just to feel better about themselves?
Is humor something they use to have fun – or a way to cover up what’s going on underneath?
5) People-pleasing tendencies
Since people-pleasing is also grounded in low self-esteem, it’s naturally the next thing you recognize when speaking to someone.
“Oh, I’m really sorry, I forgot! So very sorry!”
“Would you like me to help? Are you sure? Are you sure sure?”
Some people pleasers are more obvious than others, but a good judge of character usually doesn’t struggle to note the little things that give people away.
Remember the scene in Friends where Rachel tells Phoebe she’s not a pushover, only to agree to go eat anywhere Monica chooses?
That’s a prime example of Phoebe – a great judge of character – noticing the little things about Rachel’s people-pleasing personality.
6) Fake niceness
When you can tell someone’s personality just from a few interactions with them, it gives you a great advantage in life – people can’t win you over easily.
Especially if they’re faking niceness.
“Oh, I haven’t seen you in ages, I’ve missed you so much!” a colleague says as she hugs you (you met a week ago for the very first time). “So, any news I should know about?” she raises her eyebrows mischievously.
Ugh. You easily see through the pretense. Fake nice people usually want something from you, and the front they put up to “lure you in” doesn’t work on you.
As a result, you know when to keep your distance.
7) Arrogant undertones
Surprisingly, arrogance is a trait many people don’t detect.
This is because it can be masterfully covered up by charisma.
“Ah, he’s just such a charming young man!”
But you know better.
You’ve seen the way he speaks to people who aren’t as educated as him; you’ve heard him go on tangents that sound more impressive in his head than in reality; you can tell that when confronted with his own lack of knowledge, he’ll laugh it off or pretend he knows what you’re talking about.
It’s all in the undertones of a person’s energy, in their willingness (or lack thereof) to learn from others, and in the way they like the sound of their own voice.
8) Conversational style
Last but not least, a good judge of character can tell what you’re all about if they just listen to you speak for an hour.
What topics do you tend to bring up time and again? Do you prefer to talk about others or yourself? Are you one for gossip, do you like to give long philosophical speeches, do you ask a lot of questions?
These things say more about you who you are than you might realize.
For instance, obsessing over academic grades shows anxious tendencies when it comes to getting external validation through accomplishments while giving long speeches without asking any questions demonstrates you’re quite self-centered.
Active listening, on the other hand, shows you’re genuinely interested in the world around you. And a good judge of character is aware of that.
Now that our journey has come to an end, what’s your answer? Are you a good judge of character?
Yes? Congratulations! You have a secret superpower that’ll help you navigate the world more easily.
No? Don’t worry! These skills can be picked up over time as you read about human behavior and look at the people around you with a more analytical eye.
But if there’s one thing you ought to focus on, it’s to stop disregarding your gut instinct. It’s right more often than you think.