Social Question

Cupcake's avatar

What situations tell you the most about someone's character?

Asked by Cupcake (11933 points ) August 4th, 2009

I received a forwarded email this morning that said “I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles four things:

A rainy day, the elderly, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.”

What other situations tell you about someone’s character? Whining kids, cat throw-up, flooded basement, travelling together… What do you think?

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46 Answers

jessegavin's avatar

Bathroom situations.

CMaz's avatar

Dental hygiene.

marinelife's avatar

Work. I can always tell what people are made of by whether they care about the quality of their work, by how they treat their co-workers.

gggritso's avatar

A movie I saw once said that you don’t really know who you are until you’ve been in a fight. I’m not allowed to say anything else though.

barumonkey's avatar

“Live with a man 40 years, share his house, his meals, speak on every subject. Then tie him up and hold him over the volcano’s edge, and on that day, you will finally meet the man.” —Xiang Yu (allegedly, quoted in an episode of Firefly)

Darwin's avatar

How they deal with being faced with temptation.

se_ven's avatar

How they deal with someone of differing opinions.

chelseababyy's avatar

Situations that bring out extremes.

- Lots of stress
– Fights
– Something extremely upsetting
– Debates
– Passion
Etc

Quagmire's avatar

I remember the old movies where there were sword fight duels. Eventually one would knock the sword out of his opponent’s hand and, just when he can kill the opponent, he lets him go. That says a lot about character.

So, I think any situation where one person can justifiably harm another person but chooses not to says a lot about his character. Ex., on the job, a co-worker made trouble for you with the boss. Later that day, YOU had the upper hand, but you chose not to.

Quagmire's avatar

Who picks up the check and how often.

jbfletcherfan's avatar

Funerals. How people handle a death situation.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

never trust a fat man who doesn’t jiggle when he laughs…

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

honestly you can tell a lot about a person just by how they greet you. that first 15 seconds is absolutely crucial. If you know what you’re looking for, that is.

janbb's avatar

How they deal with a close friend who is going through a serious illness.

janbb's avatar

Ooh – another one. How they handle airline delays.

Bri_L's avatar

How well do they treat the servers at the restaurants? The elderly? Kids? Basically anyone they could ignore or look down on.

Jude's avatar

(To quote Maya Angelou)

“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he or she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights..”

edited to add: haha, well, damn. And, there it is. Should have read the “details” section of your Q.

PapaLeo's avatar

Heart attacks.

I was at a meeting a couple of months ago at the top of the WTC Amsterdam. Suddenly a guy from the meeting next door burst in screaming, “Does someone here know CPR?!!!” Seeing that others were dialing 911, I ran to the meeting room where the victim was. He was slumped over the meeting table, blue and not responding. I helped a number of colleagues of his to ease him out of his chair, loosen his tie and to lay him onto the floor. By that time he was conscious and responding. In other word: crisis over.

At that point I looked around, realizing how many of my colleagues were just standing around, picking their respective noses and watching. I thought . . . WTF? Why not take action? Why not help? It was then I realized, and not for the first time, that not everyone has the character that moves them to action in emergency situations. Most people, most, have no clue what they need to do.

Is this a measure of character? Who knows?

nebule's avatar

any situation in which they could get angry with you

trailsillustrated's avatar

danger. When you are together and you get attacked, what the other person does or does not do can tell you everything.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Lol, I imagined throwing the tangled lights into the garbage can – what does that tell ya?
Anyway, tell a friend you’re HIV+ and you’ll know what kind of a friend they are

jonsblond's avatar

How someone reacts when their order was processed wrong at a restaurant or drive thru.

How a person treats cashiers.

cookieman's avatar

great, great answers above

Here is my litmus test:
• How someone treats service people (waiters, counter help, mail carrier, etc.)

• How someone handles a death in your family (do you ignore it; send a card; come to the wake; or show up with food?)

• How much pride someone takes in their work (I’m a stickler for good work ethic)

• Does someone bad-mouth their SO when they’re not around (can’t stand the ball n’ chain? old man got ya down? Please…grow up).

SuperMouse's avatar

I am with @cprevite about the way a person treats service people on a related note I always judge a doctor by the people working in his office – high turnover = see another doctor.

How they treat their children.

How they react to a person with an obvious physical disability.

Whether they will pick me up at the airport.

cookieman's avatar

@SuperMouse: ‘How they treat a disabled person’ is a great one.

fireside's avatar

How they treat others:
—Helpful
—Unhelpful
—Manipulative
—Withdrawn

How they approach life or responsibilities:
—Positive
—Negative
—Begrudging
—Conciliatory

In cartoons, you can usually tell by their laugh:
—Boisterous = Protagonist
—Silly = Sidekick
—Cackle = Antagonist

Iconoclast's avatar

How you treat people at your mercy. And how you treat animals that are at your mercy.

it’s no coincidence that most serial killers get a head start by killing dogs and cats in their youth.

chyna's avatar

@Iconoclast You beat me to it, I was going to say how people treat their animals. The people I have met that are gentle and kind to their pets, in most cases treat their family the same way.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think I need a fluther break. I’m getting very irritated with it today.

I can only judge the effect of someone’s actions. I cannot judge that a certain action at a certain moment is indicative of someone’s character. I would never want to be judged on my worst day? Would you?

cookieman's avatar

@tinyfaery: Agreed. I’m thinking more a pattern of behavior.

Anyone can be rude to the waitress once – but if it’s a regular thing, I see it as a red flag.

Zendo's avatar

How they treat you on a Q & A website.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

-how they deal with people who disagree with them – not why they disagree with the person, but how they react to opposition.
-how they treat a cashier (or some other person of service like that). i’m not expecting full out conversation, because not everyone is especially friendly. but i hate when people are unnecessarily rude to their cashiers, the people who bag their groceries, etc.
-this one is for friendships: how a friend acts when they have a new significant other. that can certainly tell you a lot about priorities.

Haffi112's avatar

Playing a game with them.

I recommend mafia

wundayatta's avatar

When you get to the airport after a two hour drive, and find that your new wife left her passport at home, and the plane is leaving in two hours.

Cupcake's avatar

@daloon – I had almost that exact dream the last time I went out of the country (except it was my passport missing in the dream)! I definitely think that traveling issues bring out someone’s character pretty quickly.
I hope to not have too many issues on my honeymoon in a week and a half!!!!

Bri_L's avatar

@daloon – did that actually happen to you? wow!

wundayatta's avatar

@Bri_L Yup. For real. My mother-in-law was very impressed that I took it with such aplomb.

Nially_Bob's avatar

My Father once told me one of his favourite quotes which I have come to develop a similar affection for due primarily to the truth I believe it portrays,
“The best index to a person’s character are how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back” – Abigail van Buren

cookieman's avatar

@Nially_Bob: That’s a great quote. Thanks for sharing that.

Bri_L's avatar

@daloon – wow what a tale! good for stories

fireside's avatar

@daloon – Where did you go for your honeymoon? Did you make it the that day or have to wait?

wundayatta's avatar

@fireside We went to Portugal. We convinced the airline to let us go on the plane the next day. We only lost one day, and we still had an absolutely wonderful honeymoon!

fireside's avatar

@daloon – glad to hear it worked out well : )

Bri_L's avatar

@daloon – Very very cool!

SolitaryMan's avatar

” Just because you ARE a character doesn’t mean you HAVE character ”.

Mr. Wolf/Pulp Fiction

nebule's avatar

welcome @SolitaryMan but you may find that your statement is wrong or not…

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