Every single person you meet in life plays by a unique set of rules.
Some of these rules will do you and everyone around them good.
Some will just rub you the wrong way, but they won’t hurt anyone. And hey, as long as what we’re experiencing is just a difference of opinion, what’s the big deal, right?
Some rules, on the other hand, can and will hurt you as well as anyone else that comes into contact with them.
And some will tear you to shreds if you let them into your life.
Because approaching life and your fellow human beings with an open heart and mind can leave you vulnerable, how will you know when someone’s playing by a set of rules that work only in their favor and not anyone else’s?
How do you, my kind and trusting friend—knowing and accepting that malevolence does exist in this world— tell apart someone who’s got good intentions from someone who’s just faking a likable persona to get what they want?
SIGNS THAT SOMEONE IS A GOOD PERSON
We’re often so fearful of getting hurt that we focus all our attention on looking out for red flags, completely missing the good in people.
So how do you ‘read’ someone without jumping to unfair conclusions about their character and intentions?
What are the signs of a good-hearted person that you can look out for?
Here are the biggest clues:
THEY SAY WHAT THEY MEAN
When they give you their word, you know that you can trust them because their actions align with what they say.
THEY’RE SLOW TO JUDGE
They know that it’s never fair to judge a book outright by its cover and that things are never what they seem. They’re driven by curiosity, not judgment.
THEY’RE HAPPY FOR OTHERS
Seeing you win is also a win for them because your happiness can only make your relationship with them richer and more joyful.
When you need help, they’re there to give a hand within their capabilities.
Their hearts are open enough to offer you their time and energy because they know it’ll make you feel thought of and cared for.
THEY OWN THEIR MISTAKES
Instead of blaming others or avoiding facing the consequences of their actions, good people are able to own up to their mistakes, learn from them, and change their behavior so they don’t make the same mistake twice.
They know that they don’t live on an island, and everything they do — big or small — has the potential to affect someone else. This is why they consider the consequences of their actions before they do anything.
THEY STAND UP FOR WHAT’S RIGHT
It’s hard for a good person to stand by and watch someone else get bullied, disrespected or taken advantage of, so they put their foot down to right a wrong when the occasion calls for it.
THEY TREAT OTHERS THE WAY THEY WANT TO BE TREATED
They’re aware that their life is only as good as their relationships, so they never forget to treat the people in their lives the way they want to be treated: With respect, consideration, and care.
THEY GIVE CREDIT WHERE IT’S DUE
A good person is able to put aside their ego and acknowledge the value of others instead of constantly wanting to make themselves look good at someone else’s expense.
THEY MAKE SPACE FOR YOU TO BE YOURSELF
They know that everyone is different and that what works for one person may not work for someone else, so they always give others room to settle in and find their groove so they feel comfortable instead of imposing cookie-cutter expectations wherever they go.
THEY DON’T GOSSIP
Gossiping is a death sentence for any relationship, personal or professional, and a good person knows this, so they stay away from participating in the spreading of untruths, unjustified claims and negative judgments about others.
THEY DON’T STAB OTHERS IN THE BACK
What you see is what you get, and if a good person doesn’t approve of something you’ve said or done, they’ll tell you upfront instead of indulging in negative, passive-aggressive behavior that’ll hurt you or complaining to others about it while keeping you in the dark.
Someone with a good heart knows that they don’t know everything, and has no qualms admitting this, no matter how high they sit on the ladder of society. They know that it’s unnecessary to brag when the work they’re doing can speak for itself.
A good person knows that people, plans, and situations are rarely perfect, and is self-aware enough to be able to help others feel good instead of humiliated when mistakes are made or things get awkward.
Someone with a good heart interacts with the people in their lives with empathy and a desire to understand. They’re also fully aware that the things they say and how they say it can make or break someone else’s day, so they’re always mindful about how they make others feel.
It’s human nature to want to be with others like us, but this urge of ours to form cliques is of little benefit when it’s taken to extremes that leave others out in the cold. A good person realizes the mental and emotional damage behavior like this can inflict and makes it a point to not let it fester.
THEY FIGHT FAIR
They know that going into a disagreement with someone they care about isn’t about winning; it’s about making sure each voice gets heard and understood so that a resolution that takes both sides into account can be reached respectfully — no mud-slinging, insult-hurling, or playing dirty required.
HOW TO GET BETTER AT TELLING IF SOMEONE IS A GOOD PERSON
It’s not simple or easy, but here are some steps you can take to sharpen your ability to separate the good from the bad.
1. KNOW WHO YOU ARE
Protecting yourself from fake, manipulative people asks that you know yourself well.
What people do to you is what you allow them to.
Having a set of solid principles that you live by and that help you decide how other people can and cannot treat you is your first line of defense against malevolence.
The last thing you want to do is to be agreeable at any cost so that people will like you. This not only leads to the gradual build-up of resentment within you but also signals to others that they can do anything they want to you and not face any consequences for it, making you the perfect target for narcissists.
Know yourself well and the right people will gravitate towards you while the wrong ones will slither away, keeping a safe distance from you.
2. LEARN HOW TO LISTEN TO YOUR GUT
Your instincts are there for a reason: To protect you from harm, so use it to your full advantage by paying close attention to it.
As you go about interacting with people, it’ll send you subtle feedback about their values, agendas, and where they belong in your life (or not).
Like the new ‘friend’ who pretends to be your ally, until it becomes very clear that she’s not.
And the colleague who often tells you how invaluable she thinks you are to the team until you find out that she’s been saying the opposite behind your back.
Or the new love interest who keeps showering you with whirlwind flattery, gifts, and attention, only to do a personality 180 on you once they’ve put a ring on it.
In an ideal world, all of us would greet everyone we meet with open arms and an equally open heart, but past experiences have taught me that it’s not always the wisest option.
Looking back, I realize how easily I could’ve side-stepped so much heartache simply by listening to my gut.
3. WATCH WHAT THEY DO, NOT WHAT THEY SAY
Disregard all the sunshine-and-roses statements and promises they make verbally.
Just as importantly, ignore all the positive declarations (usually about themselves) that they post on social media.
Instead, watch out for these red flags
- While you’re out for a meal, are they sweet and thoughtful to you, but rude and inconsiderate to the waiter?
- Assess their relationships: Are they nice to everyone, or only to people who have the power to further their influence and income?
- When you ask them to tell you the truth, are they upfront with you, or do they just end up or worse, turn the tables on you to make you feel stupid for asking in the first place?
- When you share happy news with them, do they react in a positive and supportive way, or find every excuse under the sun to rain on your parade?
- When you’re with someone who knows your weaknesses and strengths intimately, do they constantly try to help you strengthen your weaknesses and amplify your strengths, or do they try to manipulate you for their own benefit based on this knowledge?
- Do they use social media to genuinely connect with and support others, or do they use it as a means to publicly attack and tear others down?
- When faced with a mistake they’ve made, do they take full responsibility for it and try to make things right with humility and open communication, or turn the blame around on someone else?
- Watch how they talk about their ex-partners. This is how they’ll talk about you someday.
- When people in their circle go out of their way to warn you about them, it would probably do you some good to pay close attention to what they have to say.
- When people in your circle tell you that they’re getting bad vibes from a new person in your life, you’d better off listening.
Keep in mind that none of these things, on their own, are airtight indicators that someone isn’t a good person.
After all, every single one of us is flawed by design.
But looking back on the experiences I’ve had with not-so-great people, these behaviors on repeat tend to be telling signs of what’s time come.
HOW TO BE A GOOD PERSON
It’s all too easy to criticize others while praising ourselves on our high horses.
This is no wonder that so many of us go about life with one-track blinders on that keep us from seeing our own flaws, toxic behaviors, and misjudgments that bring us so much pain and suffering.
It’s easy to forget that others are looking at us with the same, red flag-hungry lens that we’ve got on.
KEEP WORKING ON YOURSELF
You’re never too old to learn something new about yourself and learn something new for yourself.
A 1% improvement each day, every day can make a big difference to every area of your life, including your relationships, whether you realize it or not.
OWN YOUR ACTIONS AND THEIR CONSEQUENCES
The more you’re able to zoom out and see the big picture when it comes to how you live your life, the better your chances of having relationships that are happy, meaningful, and fulfilling.
LEARN TO LOVE YOURSELF
Self-hate that’s allowed to fester can manifest as negative and toxic behaviors that hurt others, and yourself, over time.
The antidote to self-hate? Learning how to accept, love, and treat yourself with the compassion that you offer others so you don’t spiral into a bad mental place.
BE OPEN TO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES
Knowing and accepting that not everyone will agree with you will help create more peace in your relationships.
It’ll also open your mind to consider that maybe, just maybe, you’re wrong.
NURTURE CURIOSITY, NOT JUDGEMENT
It can be tempting to lash out when you’ve been hurt, but there’s always more to a story than meets the eye.
Casting a wider net to put more pieces of a story together before you come to a harsh, unfair conclusion can keep you from doing and saying things that’ll add more fuel to a fire.
RESOURCES YOU MIGHT FIND HELPFUL
Boundaries: When To Say Yes, How To Say No To Take Control Of Your Life by Henry Cloud and John Townsend Not having boundaries can end up wreaking havoc in your relationships and leave you feeling resentful, used, and disrespected. In this book, Cloud and Townsend show you how to get over the guilt of setting limits (this is particularly helpful if you’re a recovering people-pleaser like me) and equip you with the skills you need to build healthy relationships that will fulfill, not drain you dry.
Difficult Conversations: How To Discuss What Matters Most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen and Roger Fisher Lousy, conflict-ridden conversations strain relationships, and don’t make difficult relationships any better. Here, the authors take you into the process of managing and expressing your feelings constructively rather than constantly muddling through who’s right, who meant what and who’s to blame — all of which keep us from handling difficult conversations well.
Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret To Recognizing And Coping With Narcissists by Dr. Craig Malkin I never realized narcissists existed until I became tangled up with one for several years. It was only after I discovered what a narcissist was that I understood the damage that had been done to me. Dr. Malkin, a therapist, explains the true nature of narcissism — the good and bad, how unhealthy levels of narcissism can wreak havoc on your life, how to spot red flags that you might be dealing with a narcissist, and how to not only cope, but thrive when dealing with the narcissists in your life.
Tribe Of Mentors: Short Life Advice From The Best In The World by Timothy Ferriss Nothing beats having a mentor in your life who can personally guide you from day one. But not everyone does, and if (like me), you don’t, it doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from the best virtually or through books. Take what you need from the likes of Ray Dalio, Ben Stiller, Bear Grylls and more in this varied but comprehensive compilation of bite-sized advice on life, work and purpose from some of the best minds in the world.
Online-Therapy.com Therapy has taught me to look at my life and the metaphorical mountains (mental, emotional, and physical) I’m climbing from a different perspective, and how to navigate them in better, healthier ways — skills that I feel everyone should have but aren’t taught in school, and rarely, at home. Online-Therapy offers you an affordable way to get the help (or mental health flossing as I like to call it) you need starting from $40 per week. Membership comes with a live, 45-minute session with your therapist plus unlimited messaging each week, and access to their online cognitive behavioral therapy program. Together, these tools equip you with the skills you need to navigate difficult emotions, as well as yoga and meditation videos for additional support. If this is your first time using Online-Therapy, you’ll receive 20% off your first month here.
TAKE THE 7-DAY CALM MIND CHALLENGE
You can’t control what others think, say and do, but you can control how you react to them. Start re-framing your thoughts to calm your mind, feel good about life and create the mental space that’s a must to reach your highest potential with my FREE, 7-Day Calm Mind Challenge. You’ll also receive my best calm-living tips & trainings delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up for your dose of calm now.