I have a confession to make – one of my favorite things to do is people-watching. Have you ever done that?
You just sit somewhere (or stand if you’d rather do that) and watch people pass by. It’s that simple.
What I love about it is that I would create stories about them based on the little things I notice about them.
“A lady walking so fast? A real go-getter.”
“A guy wearing rubber shoes with a suit? Probably a practical person.”
Okay, maybe that sounds like I make assumptions about people. But you know what? I’m not even going to deny it.
The truth is, we can indeed glean something about a person based on certain little things.
Body language, fashion choices, word phrasings…they all say something about a person even if they don’t mean to make a statement.
Here are 9 little things that can reveal a lot about a person. Read on, and maybe you’ll even learn something you didn’t realize about yourself!
1) Your handshake
Let’s start with a basic greeting that seems simple on the surface but can actually tell a lot about a person.
I’m talking about the handshake – our first point of contact with the people we meet. It’s such a useful detail that most business people use it to gauge a person’s character and personality.
A firm one shows you’re a sincere, strong, and confident person.
But too firm? That might seem like you’re trying to dominate the interaction.
And a weak handshake? Naturally, that signifies that your confidence level might be just as shaky.
That said, it’s not just about the strength of the handshake. There’s also everything else that goes along with it. The context around it, such as duration, eye contact, and the accompanying smile (or lack of it), also matters.
And while we’re talking of meeting and greeting someone, this next detail matters, too.
2) Your punctuality
Think it won’t matter if you’re five minutes late? Maybe, if you’re meeting someone with a lot of patience.
Just the occasional tardiness might be fine; after all, it happens to the best of us, no matter how strictly we follow our schedules.
But if you’re often late, that says a lot more about you than you think. Basically, it tells people the following:
- You don’t respect other people’s time
- Your sense of responsibility leaves a lot to be desired
- You’re not a very reliable and conscientious person
- You need to step up your organizational skills
In contrast, if you’re always on time or early, that means you’ve got a handle on your schedule and you’re a person of your word.
What’s more, it means you’re a considerate person who wants to give people the respect their time and presence deserve!
3) How you treat waitstaff
Speaking of respect brings me to this question: how do you treat the people below you?
It’s one thing to treat your coworkers and superiors with respect. It’s another one to do the same thing for the waitstaff, maintenance crew, and other people in service-type jobs.
If you treat them equally, then that points to how kind and well-mannered you are. Because the truth is, many of us practice selective treatment.
Real talk – rudeness to the waitstaff or underlings means the person has got quite an ego, and maybe a bit of narcissism. It’s basically power tripping!
That’s why it has kind of become the SOP for discerning people to observe how their date treats the waitstaff. It’s a pretty reliable indicator of character.
4) The type of apology you give
Let’s take a look at the types of apologies people give:
- Sincere: “I’m truly sorry for what I said. It was thoughtless and hurtful, and I deeply regret it.”
- Conditional: “I’m sorry IF you were offended by what I said.”
- Defensive: “I’m sorry my report was late, BUT…”
- Forced: “Alright, fine! I’m sorry, okay?”
- Non-apology: “I’m sorry YOU feel that way…”
I think you can tell that it’s only the first one that casts you in a positive light, right?
The rest? These kinds of apologies point to a lack of remorse or accountability. Whenever I hear such kinds of apologies, I immediately get an insight into someone’s capacity for empathy and maturity.
5) How you walk
Remember in the intro how I made a statement based on how someone walks? Turns out, that statement isn’t entirely groundless or a figment of my imagination.
A 2017 study shows that our walking style reveals aspects of our personality.
In a nutshell:
- Fast walking = more conscientious and outgoing; go-getters and risk-takers (hey, I was right!)
- Slow walking = more cautious and measured
- Strolling = relaxed and confident; lives life on their own terms
- Long, quick strides = competitive, intelligent, and productive
- Dragging feet = anxious and worrying
Looking at this list, it totally makes sense to me. I’ve always been a fast walker, and I’d say that description is fairly accurate, except maybe for the “outgoing” part.
That said, it’s good to remember that we are complex creatures. For instance, just because I walk fast doesn’t mean every single description will apply to me.
That may be the same for you. Maybe you are someone who strolls, so you likely live life on your own terms. But that could also easily mean you’re a go-getter.
6) How you hold your phone
Oh, this one’s as tiny a detail as it gets. According to TechRound, recent research from Buymobile shows that the way you hold your phone can already say a lot about you.
It made me think about how I hold my phone myself. I hold my phone with two hands and tap with both thumbs. Apparently, that means I am adaptable, like working quickly, and can process many thoughts at once.
(And here I thought it was just because I have small hands!)
Meanwhile, those who hold their phones with one hand and text with one thumb are more cautious, disciplined, and methodical. They’re also great judges of character.
And what about the folks who hold their phones then tap with a finger? Maybe their thumbs are just too big. Or maybe, according to the study, they are “smart, intuitive and kind but never a pushover.”
7) Your selfie
While we’re on the topic of phones, did you know that your selfies also give people a peek into your inner self?
Turns out, your facial cues and expressions, as well as your background, indicate your level of openness.
A study found that people who take selfies from below are more likely to be friendly. And conscientious folks are less likely to reveal a private space in the background.
Meanwhile, the more open you are to new experiences, the more likely your selfie expression would be smiley and positive.
And if you like making duck faces? I hate to break it to you, but according to the study, neurotic people are more likely to make a duck face.
8) Your shoe choice
This one’s something I truly relate to. On my first day in college, I didn’t know anyone. So, I looked at my classmates’ shoes, and from there, I picked my first college friends.
And you know what? We’re all still friends to this day!
Maybe that sounds shallow and superficial, and I can’t blame you if you think that way. I honestly don’t even know why I did that.
All I knew was that my instinct led me to befriend the people whose shoes I liked, which, by the way, were comfortable sneakers.
But – fast forward many years later, and here I am, finding out from a study that our shoes do reveal something about our personalities.
Are your shoes well-maintained? You might have a touch of anxiety and clinginess in you.
Do you like wearing heels? Maybe it does scream high maintenance, but on the bright side, it means you’ve got what it takes to stay calm under pressure.
Or what if your go-to style, like me, is flats and comfy shoes? You’re agreeable and practical, which means, if you were in my college classroom back then, I’d probably have zeroed in on you.
Heck, maybe if we met today, we’d likely be friends!
9) Your opinion on toilet paper
Another seemingly insignificant detail that can tell a lot about you is how your toilet paper hangs in the bathroom.
Be honest – have you ever visited a friend and took a peek at the toilet paper in their bathroom? Are you curious to know if they hang it overhand or underhand?
Turns out, this tiny thing is a personality reveal. Overhanders are more likely to be assertive, while underhanders are – you guessed it – more submissive.
So, how do your own behavior and mannerisms measure up against this list? These little details might not look like much but they can give us some valuable insight into ourselves.
Now, I’d like to emphasize once again, though, this list isn’t meant to generalize or pigeonhole anyone into specific categories.
We are complex creatures. What might be true for one person in a particular situation might not apply to another in different circumstances.
These observations are more about recognizing patterns and tendencies rather than defining rigid personality traits. Hopefully, they’ve led you to discover something new about yourself!