10 subconscious things you do that reveal a lot about your personality

People-watching is one of my favorite things to do. I love observing the way people move and getting glimpses into their personalities, even if they’re total strangers. 

That’s right, even though we might not know a person from Adam, there are some subconscious things they do that can give us insights into their personality. 

Want to do some body language detective work? Hop along as I tackle 10 subconscious things you do that reveal a lot about your personality! 

1) Where you look when you talk to someone

I’ll start with one of the basic aspects of human interaction – eye contact. 

We all have different tendencies when it comes to maintaining eye contact in conversations. 

Some of us are comfortable looking at the person we’re talking to, which signals confidence

Others prefer to look at a neutral point away from the other person, typically somewhere in the background. These are the people who are a bit more contemplative and introspective. They like mulling over their words and tend to speak in abstract terms. 

Finally, there’s the third type – those who are looking at you, but not into your eyes. Maybe your ears, your eyebrows, your hairline, your nose…practically anything on your face except your eyes.   

Does that sound a little disconcerting? It might help to think of these folks as observers who watch your face for subtle nuances. 

2) How you greet people

Your greeting style can say a lot about your personality, too.

Are you overly formal and polite when greeting others? You may be more reserved and cautious, someone who’s intent on maintaining boundaries and adhering to social norms. 

Are you more casual and friendly? You may be more outgoing and approachable. You’re likely a person who loves connecting with others and building relationships.

3) How you walk

When I’m on one of my people-watching sessions, one thing I always notice is the way they walk. 

You see, your posture and stride reveal a lot about you, more than you think. In Men’s Health, body language expert Patti Wood shares some insights based on how you walk: 

  • Fast and focused walk: you’re highly productive and logical
  • Slow and cautious walk: you’re aloof and introverted
  • Fast, but springy and energetic walk: you’re fun and charismatic
  • Slow to medium-paced and loose posture: you’re more people-focused than task-focused

Now, a little disclaimer: these interpretations may or may not be true for you. Nevertheless, they are what comes across. So that’s something to keep in mind if you want to convey the right impression. 

4) How you sit

Just as important as it is to be mindful of how you walk is the way you sit. 

If you sit with your legs crossed, you’re likely a more refined and sophisticated person because crossed legs can signal that you’re more formal and polite. 

But if you sit with your legs apart, you’re probably a more comfortable and relaxed person. Sitting with legs apart indicates confidence and a healthy degree of self-assurance. 

5) How you hold your drink

I don’t mean to make you self-conscious when you’re at a bar, but guess what? Even the way you hold your drink says a lot about you! 

According to psychologist Glenn Wilson, with just one look, an observant person can tell if you’re a: flirt/player, a fun-loving person, a wallflower, a gossip, a browbeater, a peacock, or an ice queen. 

Let’s take a look at how drink-holding varies across these types: 

  • Flirt: holds the glass with splayed fingers and handles it in a provocative way
  • Wallflower: holds their drink protectively, fidgets with a straw, and obviously uses the drink as a social crutch 
  • Gossip: uses their glass to gesticulate and emphasize points in the conversation
  • Fun-lover: holds their glass or bottle loosely and takes short swigs
  • Playboy: uses a tall glass/cocktail/bottle like a phallic prop and plays with it suggestively 
  • Browbeater: grasps large pint glasses or bottles firmly and gesticulates aggressively 
  • Peacock: pushes the glass away and leans back in their chair in an expansive posture
  • Ice queen: holds the glass firmly as a barrier across her body

6) How you eat

It’s not just the way you drink. The way you eat can also reveal aspects of your personality! 

Are you a fast eater who wolfs down your food? You may be more impulsive and impatient than the average person. You eat quickly because you want to be efficient and get things done. 

And if you’re a slow eater? You may be more thoughtful and deliberate. Eating slowly shows that you’re all about enjoying the moment and savoring the experience.

(Sidebar: the French are known for eating slowly. They spend more than two hours a day eating and drinking – twice as much as the global average. Talk about enjoying life!)

Oh, and before I forget, your food choices matter, too. Picky eaters tend to be more anxious and neurotic. In contrast, adventurous eaters tend to be pushy and risk-taking

And isolationists – those who like eating only one thing at a time – they are likely more careful, detail-oriented, and stubborn. 

7) How you react to surprises

Picture this: you broke a glass or spilled coffee on your desk. What do you do? Do you: 

  • Lose your cool?
  • Start blaming someone or something else for it? 
  • Get embarrassed and apologetic?
  • Stay calm and focus on damage control?

Do you see where I’m going with this? 

The way you handle surprises, especially unpleasant ones, is an instinctive and subconscious one. And whether it’s a positive reaction or not, it gives people a peek at your personality! 

8) How you use your phone

Let’s be real – we’re all practically slaves to our phones these days, aren’t we? It’s a rare person who doesn’t have a smartphone with them wherever they go. 

But here’s some food for thought: our phone usage gives people a sense of our inner world. 

I’ll be blunt – if you’re glued to your phone, it can indicate two things.

First, you’re focused on staying connected and engaged with others. And second, it shows you may be addicted to technology and have a hard time disconnecting. 

Conversely, if you can stay away from your phone for longer periods of time, it tells people that you are a mindful person who can stay in the present moment. 

In this case, either interpretation is likely true!

9) Your email style

Bet you didn’t think the way you write your emails is a minefield with little nuggets of information about your personality. But it absolutely is!

Studies have found a strong correlation between our email personas and real life personalities. 

Here are some interesting findings: 

  • Extroverts tend to be informal and like talking about fun-related stuff.
  • Careful with the use of words such as “I,” “me,” and “mine” – they are strongly related to narcissists
  • If your email is flawless and free of typos, you’re conscientious and a perfectionist (and maybe a tad obsessive).
  • Poor grammar points to lower levels of IQ and academic intelligence.
  • Like writing long emails? You come across as energetic and thorough, but also a wee bit needy. 

10) How you carry a bag

Oh, this one’s a personal favorite. I pride myself on knowing what type of person someone is just by the way they carry their bag. (I’m aware that makes me sound obnoxious, but you know what? I’ve yet to be proven wrong with my bag-related observations!)

According to style coaches, there’s a subtle psychology in bag-holding. 

Just as I’ve always thought, women who hook their purses on the crook of their arms are high-maintenance and place a lot of importance on social status. It’s a dramatic way of highlighting a coveted designer bag. 

A bag worn on the shoulder can indicate that the person is confident and self-assured because the front of her figure is unobstructed.

And if you’re the type who likes wearing a bodybag with the strap across your body, you prioritize comfort and protection. (I should know, that’s how I carry mine!)

Meanwhile, folks who go with backpacks are more independent. And those who carry their bag in their hands? They tend to be well-organized, efficient, and assertive. It’s much like a stylish briefcase.

11) How you handle compliments

I used to be uncomfortable with receiving compliments.

Truth to tell, I was the type who would deflect by saying, “Oh, it was nothing, really,” or “I’m not sure I did well, actually.” 

Until someone said, “What’s wrong with you? Why can’t you take a compliment?”

That made me take a closer look at the way I handled praise

According to social worker Lisa Schuman in Reader’s Digest, people who struggle with compliments may have social anxiety or low self-esteem. They may feel like they’re not worthy of these kind words. 

Since then, I’ve worked at being more gracious – at believing that I was indeed worthy of those compliments. 

Now I simply say ‘thank you’ and take them in stride. 

Funnily enough, this way of handling compliments shows that you’re more focused on others and less concerned with your own ego

So, it may be worth looking at how you instinctively react to compliments. I know that when I started paying attention to it, it changed people’s impressions of me into a more positive one. 

12) How you roll your toilet paper

I’ll save the most mundane and yet strangely insightful thing for last – the toilet paper roll. 

This matter has sparked a never-ending debate across all cultures. Are you supposed to hang your TP in the overhand or underhand position?  

Whichever position you prefer, it says something about you! 

Do you prefer the overhand method? You’re a dominant type. In fact, I’m pretty sure that you’ve also gone so far as to “fix” an errant toilet paper you’ve found in the bathrooms you visit!

And if you’re an underhander, then you’re likely to be more submissive. 

These little fun facts might not make much of a dent in personality assessments, but they can give you an idea of your compatibility with a prospective partner! 

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