12 subtle ways people show you who they are

In Maya Angelou’s (American poet and civil rights activist) wise words: “When someone shows you who they are, believe the first time.”

Even though I haven’t always followed this advice myself, I realized just how important it is when I actually listen to my instincts around people. 

It brought me a lot of unnecessary drama and didn’t help me to succeed in my life at all. I had to deal with someone’s bad behavior later rather than noticing the red flags from the start.

But I learned the hard way. So…

In this article, I want to share the 12 subtle ways people show you who they really are with you.

Watch out and live a happier life!

1) Their driving style can reveal their character

Driving is something to take seriously. Getting into an accident can destroy not only our lives but also somebody else’s. 

So, if you’re gripping the handle above the passenger door every time you’re in your friend’s car like it’s a lifeline, reconsider. 

Here are some dangerous behaviors while driving that can indicate that someone’s reckless:

  • Twisting around corners;

  • Cutting people off;

  • Insulting everyone around them;

  • Racing above the speed limit.

When someone drives, you can see how they handle unexpected or unavoidable activities. 

They can be calm and collected, or they can be aggressive and nervous. 

2) Check if they listen to others

I met one of my closest friends, Mari, in high school. I immediately knew we’d become best friends because I realized that she listened to people. 

I knew she was someone I could trust the same day we met!

How? Just by watching how she behaved. 

After meeting lots of new people and making many friends, I can conclude that it’s actually rare when people are good listeners. 

I mean, a lot of folks simply don’t pay attention to what others say. Most people are just trying to tell their own stories. 

Some people may zone out or interrupt you. Others will be only thinking of their own reply. 

Knowing how to listen actively can result in a great group of caring friends. But it’s also a strong indicator that someone is an attentive and curious person. 

So, pay attention to that!

3) Look at the way they handle conflicts

Conflict is a part of our daily lives, whether we want to accept it or not. Being able to stay graceful while dealing with it will certainly give us a lot of inner peace. 

What do I mean?

Think back to an argument you’ve recently had: were you insulting the other person, calling names and accusing them of things, or were you trying to solve the issue rationally?

If you’ve managed to handle your negative emotions and stay calm, you showed great empathy and conflict resolution capacity. 

If, on the other hand, you couldn’t stop yourself from aggressive anger, or the silent treatment, you might have some growth to do. 

Don’t worry! We’ve all been there, and it’s possible to change for the better. 

But pay attention when others are involved in a conflict too. It will tell a lot about them as they’ll face a stressful situation.

Related: 10 tips to increase self-esteem if you feel that everyone is better than you

4) Notice if they ask questions about you

An arrogant or egotistical person will never ask questions about you. 

The conversation will always be about themselves, their accomplishments, and their good qualities. 

It doesn’t matter what the topic is; it will always come back to them. 

I’m aware when other people do this because it’s hard to ignore once you’ve spotted it once. 

Don’t get me wrong! 

I love to listen to my friends, but I also want to be listened to. 

I want to spend quality time with them, and I don’t want to just listen to someone talking nonstop without me getting a chance to touch on other topics. 

5) Check the way they handle rejection

By rejection, I mean someone telling them a firm “no.” 

Let’s face it: we won’t get everything being our way all the time. Yes, it’s annoying, I know. 

But c’est la vie!

What can we do about it? Mainly three things: accept that this is the reality, insist until the other person gets angry or gives in, or have a tantrum. 

We’re not children, and we shouldn’t get to manipulations, so the healthiest thing to do is deal with rejection in an adult, mature way. 

So, if someone you are interested in throws a tantrum at every smallest thing that disappoints them–run!

6) Constantly blaming others is not a good sign

If someone can’t take criticism or rejection well, they also can’t take responsibility for their actions. 

Isn’t that frustrating to deal with?

When things don’t go according to plan, it’s easy to start blaming others. But it’s also not the best way to deal with an emergency, is it?

This kind of mentality is not a sign of maturity. 

These are some strategies that help when trying to process a mistake:

  • Admitting when we’re wrong;

  • Taking steps to remediate or better the situation;

  • Communicate openly.

When you find someone like that, keep them close!

7) Note what’s their reaction to other’s success

Achieving a milestone in life is something to celebrate. 

Whether you’ve opened a business or gotten that promotion at your work, you’re bound to notice who is glad you’re doing well. 

Do your friends celebrate your achievements with genuine joy? Or are some of them a little bit envious?

However they respond to you doing well, it’s a dead giveaway of their character, self-esteem, and confidence. 

Related: 6 signs you’re an old soul and how it affects your relationships

8) Their attitude to animals can tell you a lot

If somebody you know doesn’t hesitate when animals suffer or need help, do you think they’d make a good friend? 

Animals are living creatures, not inanimate objects that we can discard when we don’t like them anymore. 

If you know somebody that regularly volunteers at an animal shelter or that they rescue dogs from the street, this is very telling: they care. 

You can also notice how they care about their own pet if they have one. Are they loving and attentive to their needs? Or do they shout at them and ignore them when they ask for attention or food?

This’ll tell you a lot about this person.

9) Notice how they behave when drunk

As the saying goes: “drunken words are sober thoughts.” I believe it’s true. 

After all, alcohol lowers our inhibitions. We often say the things we haven’t dared to say sober, and those parts we try not to show are the ones that come to light when we drink. 

When someone is aggressive or behaves inappropriately while drinking, this means that they have violent tendencies on a daily. Alcohol just shows it better. 

If you’re newly dating someone, or considering a new acquaintance, pay attention to what they do when they’re drunk. 

It will give you a more accurate perspective of their character. 

10) Observe how they treat their loved ones

When someone speaks about the person closest to their heart, the way they portray that friend can reveal a great deal. 

If they happen to roll their eyes, let out an exasperated sigh, and say, “Oh, it’s so annoying that my friend is always…,” proceeding to disclose every little detail about their supposed close companion, it may indicate that they are dealing with some significant challenges.

Perhaps they are projecting their insecurities onto their friend, or they may have experienced difficulties forming genuine connections. 

It is even possible that they exhibit similar behaviors to those they complain about. 

More often than not, it’s a blend of all these factors.

It’s worth considering that if they engage in gossip and speak ill of their friend when they’re not around, there’s a good chance they might do the same behind your back.

11) Their hobbies can reveal facts about their personality

When it comes to our personality, how we choose to spend our leisure time can offer valuable insights.

Someone who dedicates their free moments to positive and purposeful activities likely possesses an admirable drive, discipline, and a clear understanding of their priorities.

By redirecting our energy towards self-improvement and consciously filtering out distractions, we embrace our true potential and become the best versions of ourselves.

On the other hand, individuals who consistently allocate all their leisure time to partying or indulging in unhealthy behaviors like excessive drinking may indicate a lack of ambition and self-control.

12) Take notice of how they treat their mothers

The first and often strongest bond a person forms is with their mother.

Sadly, there are unfortunate circumstances where individuals have had to sever ties with their mothers or don’t have the option to build a relationship with them. 

However, for those who have a good relationship with their mom, how they treat her reveals a lot about them. 

In the case of men, it can reflect their overall perception of women. 

If they disrespect or belittle their mother, they’ll likely display similar behavior towards other women in their lives.

For women, the quality of their relationship with their mom can provide insight into their capacity to form meaningful connections with other females.

It’s important to note that the mother-daughter relationship is more complex than that of a mother and son, so I’ll leave it at that.

As a general rule, if someone mistreats their mother, it serves as a significant red flag to be mindful of.

To sum up

If you pay attention to these subtle signs, you will know a person a lot better than you think. 

And if you take the red flags for what they really are, you’ll save yourself a world of heartbreak. 

Plus, if we’re mindful of how those behaviors reflect in ourselves, we can become better people and form healthier connections with others.


Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

10 signs you’re such a strong woman that it intimidates others

11 habits of people who consistently get promoted at work