14th June 2024

Spain, Andalusia, Malaga. Two multiracial friends having coffee outside a coffee shop. Urban lifestyle.

By: Kirstie Taylor

From how often they check their phone down to their fingernails.

People argue that we’ll meet around 10,000 people in our lifetime.

That’s a lot of handshakes and hellos.

But all of those people won’t stay in your life, nor will you want them to. Some will be genuine, others deceiving. Some positive, others negative. So the question is: how do you figure what kind of person someone is upon meeting them?

There are a few habits that tell you a lot about someone’s personality. They’re not always fool-proof, but when you’re going off little information, they’re better than nothing.

Whether you’re dating, making friends, or networking, noticing these small habits can help you determine who, out of those 10,000 people, are the ones you want to keep in your life:

  1. Their eye contact.

If someone avoids eye contact with you, there are two explanations: they’re shy or lying.

I dated a guy in high school who seldom made eye contact when he talked and seemed nervous around me (his first girlfriend). After dating for six months, I casually brought up his eye contact habit. He responded, “oh, I never noticed that before,” and slowly, he got better at looking me in the eyes when we talked.

On the other hand, I’ve met many shady people who speak with confidence but look away when they talk. Not only does it feel uncomfortable, but it feels disingenuous.

It’s been found that people who lie tend to avoid eye contact. So while there’s a chance someone might just be nervous, eye contact can also be an indicator of a liar.

Your gut usually knows which one it is.

2. How often they check their phone.

Phone addiction is a real issue and indicates a slew of things about someone: someone who checks their emails for work while talking to you could mean they’re married to their job. While that suggests they’re dedicated, it’s also a sign their mind is frequently elsewhere.

Scrolling through social media while you’re together could be a sign someone is addicted to life behind their screen. They aren’t able to fully enjoy the present, including your time together.

And it’s pretty rude.

When a person puts down their phone and gives you their full attention, that shows they respect your time and are interested in what you’re saying.

3. Their fingernails.

Ah, the fingernails: they hold a lot of insight into someone’s personality.

Someone who cares about their appearance will keep their nails cleaned and manicured. A person who suffers from anxiety might bite their nails very short (hello, I am one of those people). And someone who doesn’t have the best hygiene will have dirty fingers nails.

While nails are a small part of who someone is, they’re a tiny indicator of their larger personality and cleanliness habits.

4. How often they ask you questions.

Think of a conversation where you left and realized you just listened to that person vent for thirty minutes. Did you enjoy being around them?

Dale Carnegie wrote, “if you want to make people shun you … here is the recipe: Never listen to anyone for long. Talk incessantly about yourself.”

Why does that hold true? Because when someone doesn’t ask you questions, they’re telling you a. they don’t care what you have to say and b. they think very, very highly of themselves.

A relationship — platonic or romantic — isn’t one-sided; it’s a give and take. You want to talk about yourself (in fact, it feels good too) just as much as learn about the other person.

5. Their handshake.

Aggressive handshakes weird me out, and weak ones come in at a close second.

Someone with a firm handshake that feels like they’ll break my hand comes off like they have something to prove. A person with a weak one feels unconfident, shy, or like they don’t want to meet me.

A University of Alabama study found that people with firm handshakes do tend to be more extraverted, and weaker handshakes are indicators someone is neurotic or quiet.

As for the rest of the handshakers? Well, you’ll just have to pay attention to their other habits to find out more about them.

6. How they handle differences in opinion.

An ex-boyfriend of mine had strong opinions. He believed Western medicine was garbage. That grains were the culprit of many human illnesses. He thought people who weren’t in peak physical condition were lazy, horrible people.

I know, quite the fun guy.

But what made matters worse was that he couldn’t handle my differences in opinions. I’d tell him that grains had many health benefits, especially for vegans, or that some people, no matter how hard they work out, can’t have 6% body fat. And that didn’t make them a bad person.

Instead of agreeing to disagree, he argued that I was stupid and didn’t know anything about health. Everyone will have differing opinions on certain subjects, but not everyone will make a big fuss over it.

If they do, it’s a sign of a big ego and an inability to see things from a different perspective.

7. The way they treat the busser.

Usually, people talk about the way someone treats a waiter as an indicator of their personality. But there is still skin in the game to be nice to the waiter.

Most would agree they’d like their food to come out warm, on time, and spit-free. But the other workers at a restaurant, the ones who don’t handle food, are the people who can help you learn about someone’s real character.

What do they say after someone fills their water? What about the busser who clears off the table for dessert?

Those are the interactions are the ones that will tell you how highly a person thinks of themself and whether they can empathize with people who are different from them.

8. Who the victim of their jokes is.

I had a friend in high school named Gabby.

Gabby loved to be the center of attention. She’d be the one dancing at house parties and taking shots with the guys. And while I might have envied her confidence, there’s one thing Gabby did that I hated more than anything.

When she talked to boys or a group of new people, she made jokes at the expense of her friends. Sometimes it was me; sometimes it was my other friends. But every time, it was rude and hurt someone’s feelings.

The ability to make a joke without hurting someone else should be a prerequisite for a decent human being. It’s not funny to poke fun at someone, even if they’re your friend.

If anything, it shows they’re insecure with themself.

9. The kind of information they share with you.

People talk about the world in the way they view it. If someone is negative, they’ll complain about the smallest details or bring up the terrible news that happened recently.

A positive person will talk about their accomplishments and exciting news. They’ll talk about what’s going on around them with excitement rather than criticism.

The same goes for how people talk about others. If they complain about their husband or don’t stop going on about their nagging mother, it’s an indicator they tend to view life negatively.

10. Their answer to this question.

“What does your ideal day look like?”

If you want insight into a whole lot of answers about a person quickly, ask this question. You’ll figure out their passions, hobbies, and priorities, all in one.

I asked my boyfriend this exact question when we first started dating. He replied that he’d spend the day playing tennis, grabbing lunch with his family, and hanging out with his dog. “Cool, he loves tennis, animals, and values family time,” I made a mental note.

If a person replies, “wow, I have no idea what I’d do” or “I’d fly to Greece or shop all day in Paris,” they probably don’t have much free time to themselves.

Not knowing what to say and having an unrealistic, grandiose answer means they’ve lost touch with what makes them the happiest.


While these habits won’t reveal if someone will become your best friend or your worst enemy, they can give you quick insight into a person’s personality.

Someone’s mindset, the way they treat people, and the ability to live in the present are great indicators of a person’s core personality. Though these habits might be small, they can be the key to surrounding yourself with people who lift you in life.

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