8 signs of a truly humble person, according to psychology

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Let’s face it: we live in a world where we are constantly encouraged to brag about ourselves and our achievements.

After all, what is social media except a highlight reel of everybody’s individual life, allowing us to show off to people we barely know?

In a world as focused on the surface appearance of things as this one, humility is an often-underrated characteristic.

But being around a humble person will quickly show you how valuable this personality trait is.

Being humble doesn’t mean lacking self-esteem or being down on yourself. Instead, it means having a realistic assessment of your abilities and not always looking for ways to draw attention to yourself.

A person can be deeply humble and still be confident in themselves. And when someone can manage that, they are often a great person to be around.

Keep an eye out for these signs of a humble person.

1) They are self-aware

Often, humility and self-awareness go hand-in-hand.

That’s because people who are self-aware have a great understanding of their own strengths, weaknesses, flaws, and abilities. This keen awareness helps them to be humble, because they understand that none of us are perfect.

“Self-awareness is your ability to perceive and understand the things that make you who you are as an individual, including your personality, actions, values, beliefs, emotions, and thoughts,” writes psychologist Kendra Cherry.

The thing is, this kind of self-awareness builds humility. The more accurate an impression you have of yourself, the less likely you are to be arrogant, selfish, and entitled.

Because when you know yourself really, really well, you’ll understand that we’re all doing the best that we can.

2) They appreciate the worth of others

Having humility means not putting yourself above others. That means you appreciate and respect other people for who they are.

That doesn’t mean you have to agree with everyone all the time. But it does mean that even when you disagree with someone, you can still respect them as an individual who has a right to see things differently than you do.

Plus, humble people are often more likely to help others than people with a more inflated sense of self-worth.

For example, check out this study which shows that people who scored high in humility as a character trait were also more altruistic than people who are less humble.

In other words, if you notice that someone is always the first to help other people or that they are able to get along with others even with very different views than theirs, it’s a good indicator that they may be a truly humble person.

3) They are open to feedback

No one likes being criticized. But if you want to grow as a person, learning how to take criticism is vital. After all, it’s only by understanding our failings that we can work to improve.

Humble people know this. And so they are more ready than most to take feedback, even if it’s negative, on board.

In fact, this ability to listen to feedback can become like a superpower for a truly humble person.

“Humble students who are genuinely open to feedback often overtake their naturally more talented peers who think so highly of their own abilities that they reject all advice,” writes psychologist Anna Katharina Schaffner.

“Some studies have found that humility is more important as a predictive performance indicator than IQ.”

4) They are not entitled

Is there anything worse than an entitled person?

These are people who think that the world owes them something. People who are quick to complain when they don’t get what they want, and don’t care how much of an inconvenience they’re being to other people.

“A sense of entitlement is a personality trait based on the belief that someone deserves special treatment or recognition for something they didn’t earn,” writes psychologist Arlin Cuncic.

“People with this mindset believe that the world owes them without giving anything in return.”

This is practically the opposite of humility.

This is why you’ll never find a truly humble person yelling at someone working in a coffee shop or flipping out in a restaurant when they don’t get their way.

Truly humble people understand that their own desires are just part of what’s going on in the world, and are no more important than anybody else’s.

5) They acknowledge their mistakes

A great way to stay humble is to acknowledge mistakes.

That doesn’t mean beating yourself up about them.

Instead, it means understanding that sometimes, we all get things wrong. And when we do, we acknowledge it, try to make amends where possible, and apologize to anyone we have wronged.

“Apologizing is difficult because it requires humility,” writes psychologist Renee Garfinkel. “Apologizing temporarily reduces one’s self-esteem. The offender who apologizes yields some power, some control.”

People who are truly humble don’t struggle with this loss of self-esteem, though. Instead, their self-esteem is bound up in who they are as a person and how they treat others.

That means they are more than willing to apologize when they feel they’ve done something wrong, which is what makes this such a good sign of someone with true humility.

6) They focus on those around them

Our self-absorbed culture would have you believe that we are all in it for ourselves. The actual truth is that humans are nothing if not a cooperative species, and we only got to where we are today by finding ways to work together.

While people with an inflated sense of self-importance try to put themselves first, humble people instead work toward the good of whatever group they’re in.

It may be their family, or their friends. It may be their team at work. Or it may be society as a whole.

That’s why you’ll often find humble people doing generous things like giving money to charity or donating their time to help out at with a cause they believe in. They’re always quick to help others and sensitive to their needs.

If that description fits someone you know, they are probably truly humble.

7) They are patient

Philosopher Jim Stone points out that patience is really a shadow term, basically meaning a lack of impatience.

That’s because, he says, “impatience, it turns out, is a very particular mental and physical process that gets triggered under specific circumstances, and which motivates specific kinds of decisive action.”

We get impatient, Stone points out, when the cost of getting what we want turns out to be higher than we anticipated.

At the same time, certain forms of impatience come from an overblown ego. This happens when we feel entitled to get what we want, so that not getting it seems like a grave injustice.

People with true humility don’t feel that way. They understand that the world does not exist to serve them. In fact, it’s more like the other way around.

That means they are often extraordinarily patient, both with others and with the day-to-day annoyances we all have to put up with from time to time.

And that’s why patience can be a good sign of someone with true humility.

8) They don’t brag

Finally, this is one of the more obvious signs of a person with humility. However, given that this is a world where we are always encouraged to show off the best sides of ourselves, it’s become a more powerful indicator than ever of someone who is genuinely humble.

“Bragging is gratuitous. It seeks applause from the audience without offering anything in return,” says Brown University psychology professor Joachim I. Krueger.

“When braggarts only gratify themselves without creating value for the audience, they should realize that it is time to step on the brakes.”

Often, bragging is an attempt for someone to make other people like them by trying to be more impressive than they already are. Fundamentally, it indicates a lack of self-esteem and a need for external validation.

Truly humble people don’t need any of that. Knowing themselves as they do, they don’t need to look to other people to make them feel worthy. And they don’t feel any need to force others to listen to stories about how great they are.

So if you know someone who has no desire to blow their own trumpet, it could be because they are truly humble.

The joy of humble people

Hopefully, if you’ve read this far, you will have noticed that humble people are some of the nicest people to be around.

Because being humble has nothing do with low self-esteem. Instead, it comes from a sense of your own place in the world and the value of other people.

If someone has that, they are not just a humble person. They are probably a great person to be around.

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