I’m often accused of being too judgmental. I would say that is...uhm yeah,
I can be quite judgy. Everyday is judgement day. I’m quite open and honest about it and besides I like the view from the high horse. I tell people what I think. It’s black or it’s white with me. I tell the truth, as I see it, because it's what I would want from my friends. I primarily judge people on two things:
1) The Content of Their Character
2) The Company They Keep
If we are honest, we are all judging people all the time and we make snap judgments. We do it subconsciously most of the time but we are doing it nonetheless. So when I meet someone or become friends with someone new, I look at all the things that encompass character. Okay, okay, sometimes I judge people on their appearance. This is a universal human trait and numerous studies have proven the power of attractiveness.
Does the person you are meeting have integrity?
A lot of times this is as simple as them doing what they say they are going to do. Keeping one’s word is a big indicator of their overall integrity. Being on time is another one. If someone is chronically late or bails out on you at the last minute, that speaks to integrity. That tells us that they don’t value other people’s time. People need to keep their word in order to meet the minimum benchmark for integrity.
Do they have a strong moral compass?
In life we have to make hard decisions sometimes. We get to the fork in the road and we have to decide to go right or go left. If you were raised the way I was, the decision is always to “do no harm” and to not do anything that you would be ashamed to admit to. This is how I see the compass. If you do the right thing, even if it’s a pain or you don’t want to, or it’s easier not to, your moral compass is true.
Are they warm and kind rather than simply “nice?”
It is very easy to play nice. Tell someone they look great. Offer to get someone something if you are going to the kitchen. Offer to pick up their dry cleaning. Nice can be faked and often is. People are nice a lot of times because it furthers an agenda. ie. Someone may offer to do something for you and then a couple days later hit you up for a big favor. It is harder to say no if someone is “nice” to you. Kind is a much deeper thing. Kind is nice but without the agenda. Kind is what people are when no one is looking. Warmth and kindness are intrinsic. It’s woven into our DNA. That’s not to say you are kind to everyone in every situation. We know that we humans can be very unkind but I see kind as an overall aura of being. I think it’s tied to empathy in many ways. If you have the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and feel what they feel, you are more likely to exhibit kindness.
Are they honest in all areas of their life?
Honesty is not just being truthful with others but also being truthful with yourself. Turning that discerning eye that you use to judge others, inward. There is a tendency to lie to get what you want. People lie on resumes to get jobs. They lie to potential partners to get dates, to get sex. They also lie to themselves. I think those are biggest lies,
the lies we tell ourselves.
The lies that say it’s okay to manipulate this situation just this once. Although it’s never just once is it? We subconsciously manipulate every day. The lies that say ‘well it’s for their own good’ when it’s really for ours. The lies that say you don’t want to talk about something so you tell the person what they want to hear (“I'm fine").
Are they driven and decisive in life?
People of strong character tend to be goal oriented, driven to achieve and able to make decisions without a lot of ruminating. They tend to self-educate because they are always striving to do better. To be better. Drive is good but what if they are driven to the point of being opportunistic? This is something I’ve encountered in my professional life more than I’d care to. People who are so driven that they would stop at nothing to get what they want. Often narcissists fall into this group. One, because they feel entitled to get what they want and two, because if they don’t have this kind of blind ambition, they might have to face the truth about themselves. No one wants to do that now do they?
Do they live an authentic life and treat everyone with respect?
Authenticity and respect go hand in hand. I don’t think you can have one without the other. Authenticity to me is just being real. I also think of it as being raw. Peeling the wrapper off of your psyche and letting people in. Telling people what you think even if it’s not easy. Being true to yourself. Excusing yourself from situations that aren’t comfortable for you. Saying no to things. That one is huge. If you are authentic, you will say no to things that you don’t want to do. You will be true to yourself. I have a particularly adventurous friend that used to ask me things like “hey do you want to get up early and go kayaking?” I would rather blow a dead goat than get up early or squash myself into a tippy wannabe canoe and splash around in the water. That’s authentic. So yeah...my answer was no.
Do they help and mentor people in their field? Are they a good parent to their children?
Do they give of themselves in ways that make other people smile, feel comforted or feel supported on their chosen path? It is insanely simple to achieve this. It often comes down to giving people the most precious thing we have:
How do you find these people to gift your time and wisdom to? A good place to start is to look around and to give to the people who give to you.
If someone gives of them self and gives of their time, you should consider doing the same. Whether it’s to them or to someone in their circle that they ask you to help. It’s a simple exchange that can mean so much. It feels good to support people's dreams and ambitions. It speaks to character at a foundational level.
Are they emotionally intelligent, thoughtful people?
Intelligence isn’t often a good indicator of character but I think emotional intelligence is. Put simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.
The company you keep often gives insight into character.
It is fairly easy for someone to pretend to be something they are not. We live in a world that promotes the notion of fake it ‘til you make it and that makes for a lot of imposters living fake lives. I don’t subscribe to this concept. More and more I see people demonstrating the Peter Principle. Promoting yourself beyond the parameters of your own competence is not good. I think it’s a gender thing though. Men tend to say they can do something even if they are not sure they can. Women tend to turn down opportunities that they don’t feel they are ready for. At least that is what I’ve noticed among my friends. I can certainly say that is the case with me. I need to be confident in my abilities to do things effectively or else I don’t do them. That’s not to say I never will but I need to work toward that goal before I say yes.
What is their true nature?
When I look at the friends that people surround themselves with, I first look at the character of those individuals. First impressions come from the gut and while sometimes they can prove to be wrong, I tend to trust them. I also would suggest that the company you keep says more about you than well, you. The biggest thing to look for is diversity.
Do they have a diverse group of friends with different political, social and religious viewpoints?
I like to see people's friends be inspiring and accomplished. They should be going places in life and not be stagnant. Perhaps they are worldly, well-rounded individuals. They carry themselves with quiet dignity and they are interesting people that are easy to connect to. They are clear-headed, intelligent and focused.
Do they dress for success?
That’s a big one for me. You are how you present to the world. If you take no care in your appearance or have no discernible style, that really impacts impression.
No neck beards.
No chipped nail polish.
We live in a world where people make superficial judgments all the time. They make them in both their personal and professional lives. The easiest way to overcome that first hurdle is to present well. The expression "clothes make the man" also make the woman.
One of the other red flags that always comes up for me is if people hang out in big packs like wolves. I think the whole 'squad' dynamic that is so prevalent today in the under 30 crowd is stifling individuality. I see it as a modern day mob mentality that chokes out people’s creative decision making ability. This is full circle back to diversity. While it’s good to have activities in common with your friends, it is not necessary to have them with all of your friends. I don’t even believe it’s possible unless you all do the same thing and your job forces you to be together and away from your life for extended periods (professional athletes as an example). This is not most people’s experience. You may have a friend who is really outdoorsy. You may have another friend who’s a mall rat. You may have a friend who is a painter and another who is a computer nerd. You may have a friend who is a right wing Christian and another friend who is Muslim. You may have a friend who is an avid sports fan and another who could care less about sports. The point is you surround yourself with different people for different reasons. I think we’ve all had the experience of meeting some of our close friend’s friends and realizing that you have nothing in common with those people other than your one friend. It is not a given that everyone is going to click. That’s just life and I think this is a good thing. I think there are days when you want to watch a baseball game so you call up your sporty friend. Other times you want to go shopping, so you text your mall rat. Yet another red flag for me (and it's almost exclusively a female thing) are the people who absorb their significant other's friend group, losing their own friends and identity all at once. This seriously makes me so sick! Do not take on his friend circle. When you split, and you will, you will have no one. His friends will side with him and your friends will be long gone.
People cannot, and should not, be all things to all people
Another thing that also pings for me is if people have the same group of friends they have had since they were in high school. People evolve and develop, and I would submit, outgrow a lot of their friends by the time they hit their early to mid-twenties. If you don’t, maybe you are clinging to the past for some reason. Your life is not what you expected. You feel you can be yourself around these people. You are afraid to let go. To me this signifies not wanting to grow up or being phobic of that natural evolution and growth. It's a fear-based stagnation. Whatever your reason, you need to question its validity. I feel a lot more men than women fall into this category. Women tend to cut ties quicker and easier with people who they no longer have things in common with. You see this a lot when one friend marries and has children and the other is single and focused on their career.
So we judge and in turn, we must be prepared to be judged ourselves. We are imperfect beings. Let your legacy be that you were judged purely and accurately by your peers because you had integrity, and you were true to your core values.
Take any critique or insight in stride, no matter how painful, and let the world see what true grit looks like. There is always some truth to their words. Find it, dip a brush in it, and paint the world with your true colors. We are all works of art in progress.