November 18, 2023




How To Read Anyone’s Character Rapidly

At a glance

Today’s Fast Summary:

  • Evaluating the content and strength of someone’s character allows you to judge their suitability for long-term relational investment. 

  • Evaluate who, how, and where someone spends their time. How they act around others and their general demeanor reveals telling facets of their personality.

| Latticework

Today’s newsletter is brought to you by Latticework, one of my favourite learning resources on the internet.

The Latticework is an application only, all-in community providing the most thoughtful approach I’ve seen to learning the big ideas from the big disciplines. I’ve been a member for 1 year and am now proud to offer my community priority access to join as well as a sneak preview of some of the key content.

Head over using this link to check it out.

How To Read Anyone’s Character Rapidly

Accurately evaluating the character of others is one of life's most valuable skills. In this context, character refers to the moral qualities a person embodies. 

Everyone has both positive and negative character traits. Even Disney villains show remorse. A person’s character exists in black and white and in many dimensions. 

Evaluating the content and strength of someone’s character allows you to judge their qualifications for long-term social investment. It will save you time, money, and heartache. 

While certain character traits are desirable to some, they aren’t to others. While I value honesty and loyalty, others value grit or empathy. Hence the importance of your own evaluation. 

Here are 19 timeless ways to understand someone's character quickly:

1. Observe Their Partner

Whom people choose to partner with says more than anything they say. Their choice of partner reveals their desires, assumptions, and needs. 

For example, men who flaunt their attractive partners are perceived as less confident than their counterparts. 

A person’s partner indicates their priorities and values, as well as what they think of themselves.

2. Observe Their Willingness to Help Others

Helping others is kind, but helping them without an inner motive is kinder. 

Those willing to assist others without a clear personal benefit are typically generous, kind, and reliable.  

Watch how and if others are willing to help those around them. Pay attention to how they treat both strangers and friends. 

3. Observe How They Handle No

Rejection is a part of life. Everyone, even successful people, experiences rejection. 

However, those who take “no” poorly usually have an overinflated sense of entitlement. The world owes no one anything. 

Those who accept and live by this are people you can share bad news with easily.

4. Observe Their Reaction to Other People’s Success

How a person reacts to others’ achievements reveals their true motivations. 

Those who celebrate and appreciate others’ success have a secure ego and an interest in others.  

Those who criticize are neither supportive nor secure. These feelings are rooted in jealousy. 

Those who can’t, criticise. 

5. Observe How They Treat Service Staff

A person’s attitude toward waitresses, cashiers, and janitors—saying thank you, hello, etc.—indicates their level of empathy for others.

Individuals who treat service staff well are more compassionate and appreciative of others' efforts. 

While out to dinner, observe how those you’re with interact with service staff. Maintain relationships with those who are polite and tip well. 

6.  Observe How They Handle Success

Freedom of any kind—time, money, or network—is a huge amplifier. But unfortunately, it tends to amplify one's negative qualities. 

The characters you want by your side are those who are gracious in victory and defeat. 

Examine those with and without success, and how they behave. Choose those who are humble regardless of their successes or failures. 

7. Observe Their Response to Failure

The way a person reacts to failure reveals much about their resilience and adaptability. Some learn from it, while others complain and blame those around them. 

Those who approach failure with a growth mindset demonstrate a strong moral character. 

Check out my practical guide to overcoming rejection for more information on managing your response to failure. 

8. Observe Their Gratitude

Positive, self-aware people are grateful for what they have. They’re ‘glass half full’ people.

These people are generally more uplifting and lighthearted than their negative counterparts. 

Individuals who appreciate the good in their lives display humility and maturity. Gracious people are connected to their community. 

Audit others’ gratitude. Pay attention to sarcasm, tone shifts, negative language, and their focus during conversations. A negative, pessimistic attitude is a key sign someone isn’t gracious. 

9. Observe Their Upbringing

People’s character and their ability to handle challenges are developed during the first two decades of life. 

It’s common to prefer those with similar upbringings to us, but this practice is rooted in fallacy. Pursue relationships with individuals from diverse backgrounds. 

The truth is this: Those with the highest levels of resilience as those who have endured the most heartache in their upbringing.

10. Observe Their Calendar & Spending

Eric Worre, a successful entrepreneur, says this of time, “Show me your calendar, [and] I'll show you your future.

How someone spends their time and money explicitly reveals what they value. Those who spend theirs helping others, engaging in their passions, and creating value are generally more favorable friends than those who don’t. 

Actions—or the flow of time and money—reveal what a person is far better than words.

11. Observe How They Treat Animals

The ways people do or do not interact with animals offer insight into their levels of compassion, empathy, and kindness. 

Those who don’t care for their pets are unlikely to care for those around them. Likewise, people who care for their pets and animals are likely to respect people similarly. 

12. Observe Their Loyalty

“I'll take fifty percent efficiency to get one hundred percent loyalty.” - Samuel Goldwyn

Ask yourself, “Are they there for others in times of difficulty?” Loyalty is crucial within both personal and professional relationships.

An individual’s loyalty is a sign of their integrity, trustworthiness, ability to maintain healthy relationships, and honesty. 

Check out the following links for more information on trustworthiness and loyalty

13. Observe Their Receptiveness To Change

Flexibility is paramount in the modern age. An individual’s adaptability—their willingness to embrace new situations—reflects how open their mind is. 

Those who navigate transitions with grace demonstrate an eagerness to grow, and those with a growth mindset are of strong moral character. 

Observe how others react to changes in plans, updated trends, or new data. Negative reactions indicate a lack of flexibility. 

14. Observe Their Accountability

We all make mistakes. Some don’t take responsibility for them, while others are happy to. 

Those who not only learn from but own up to their mistakes, show a commitment to personal growth. 

Accountability is an indicator of both honesty and integrity.

15. Observe Their Sense of Humor

Humor is an indicator of one’s ability to connect with others deeply. As Mark Twain says, “Humor is mankind's greatest blessing.”

Those who laugh at themselves and find humor in challenges demonstrate a well-rounded perspective and strong EQ. 

Sarcasm is a sign someone is insecure and passive-aggressive. 

16. Observe How They Handle Stress

Do they panic or remain calm and collected during a crisis? 

The ways one manages stress reveal a great deal about their emotional well-being. 

Stress isn’t synonymous with anxiety. Stress is healthy, everyday worries; anxiety is another thing entirely. 

Those who maintain composure and use healthy outlets for their stress are more resilient and adaptable than those who don’t. 

17. Observe Their Consistency

Are their stories similar with each re-telling? Do they tend to elaborate on what truly happened? 

Consistency is reflected in a person’s behavior, values, principles, and emotions and refers to one’s trustworthiness and reliability. 

Your words, actions, timeliness, and ability to execute plans and deadlines illustrate your consistency. Those who keep plans, show up on time, and mean what they say is consistent. 

Dependable and genuine people are consistent in their words and actions. 

18. Observe Their Talk-To-Listen Ratio

In social settings, you can talk with minglers, listen to, or avoid others.

Listeners are rare, valuable, and effective. Exceptional listening correlates strongly with self-awareness. Self-awareness is a key indicator of character.

Observe their talk-to-listen ratio, or as Jim Collins puts it, your “questions-to-answers ratio.” 

19. Observe The Small Things

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.” -Unknown. 

The little things can bring both positive and negative surprises. This is a universal rule that many must learn the hard way.

People who are dishonest about small things will be dishonest about big things. Other’s small actions and words reflect a great deal about how they act and think. 

Pay attention to odd language or their conversation focus. These are telling. 

You learned how to evaluate other’s character, but what about your own? This week, we’ll be conducting a self-character audit. Use a pen and paper, and candidly reflect on your habits.

  1. How do you react to success and failure?

  2. How do you treat others? 

  3. Observe your calendar and spending. Reflect on each answer. 

    a. What does your calendar look like? Is it busy, or lucrative? Are you happy with how it looks? 

    b. What would you add to yours? What would you take away? When is the soonest you can do so? 

    c. Check your budget. Consider where you’re spending your money. What does it reflect?

    d. What would you add? What would you change? 

Who you spend your time with is just as important as what you do. Use these tips to find the best people to spend it with.


I’d love to hear from you:

  • What do you look at when assessing another person’s character? 

  • Which of these did you find fascinating? 

  • Which character traits do you value?

Tweet at me (@_alexbrogan) or respond to this email — I’ll try to respond to everyone.

Have a wonderful Saturday, all.

Until next time,


Interested in starting your own newsletter?

The Faster Than Normal Newsletter

Join 70,000 others receiving timeless ideas to break from normal.

Delivered twice weekly to your inbox

Wednesday and Saturday

100% free

You're in!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
We won't send spam. Unsubscribe at any time.