6 Behaviors to Tell You so Much About Who Somebody is

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Probably one of the biggest indicators of whether or not somebody is spreading a toxic or a wholesome type of energy lies in how they talk about other people behind their backs.

I get it, just about everybody gossips from time to time; it’s hard not to. Some people make much more of a ritual out of it, however.

In fact, social scientist and best-selling author Brene Brown calls this a type of bonding common enemy intimacy.

“Common enemy intimacy is counterfeit connection and the opposite of true belonging. If the bond we share with others is simply that we hate the same people, the intimacy we experience is often intense, immediately gratifying, and an easy way to discharge outrage and pain. It is not, however, fuel for real connection. It’s fuel that runs hot, burns fast, and leaves a trail of polluted emotion. And if we live with any level of self-awareness, it’s also the kind of intimacy that can leave us with the intense regrets of an integrity hangover”-Brene Brown, Braving the Wilderness
One thing to keep in mind if you are getting any sense of “bonding” with someone by speaking ill of another is, what makes you think this person wouldn’t also talk about you behind your back as well?

Self-check: Do you make a regular habit out of gossiping and speaking down about others behind their backs? If you think the answer is yes, examine why this is. After you do, ask yourself how you can avoid this toxic activity and instead bond and connect with others in a more authentic and wholesome way.

They already know-it-all
Have you ever been around somebody who seems to want to show everybody how much they know about everything? How they are just so smart and intelligent and educated on every topic, way more than you are, by the way!

These types of people already know everything. They have an acute lack of curiosity about the world around them, about other people, and the opinions and beliefs they hold. They’ve read enough articles and have enough life experience to already know how the world works.

People like this can be quite difficult to be around. They lack curiosity and they lack self-awareness, and as such, they fail to grasp the bigger picture about the world and about humanity. They are boxed into a very narrow worldview and almost view a difference in opinion as a threat to their ego.

“Kids are born curious about the world. What adults primarily do in the presence of kids is unwittingly thwart the curiosity of children”-Neil Degrasse Tyson
It’s not that you need to go around morphing your opinion to everybody else around you. However, curiosity, as well as empathy, are two qualities that lead to people being much more drawn to others. Arrogance and pig-headedness demonstrate small-mindedness, and others might just roll their eyes at you for this.

Self Check: Do you already know everything, or do you seek to understand the world better by asking others about their experiences and worldviews?

Who they look up to
There are so many different influences and so many different options of people we can look up to in our lives. Who somebody looks up to can usually tell you a great deal about who somebody is and what their priorities are.

When you see people who most look up to celebrities, it is likely that they pay most close attention to the superficial elements of what celebrity brings (good looks, riches, fame).

When somebody looks up to individuals who might not have the same influence as a celebrity but have a big impact on their life for other reasons, then they are likely driven much more by internal factors as opposed to external factors. They look up to the teachers, coaches, ministers, volunteers, and family members within their community. They look up to those who lead by example through their actions more than they look up to anyone because of looks or status.

It’s not that celebrities inherently don’t have good character, but most people don’t look up to celebrities based on their character traits, but instead on what they possess (fame, power, money, looks).

“Being a role model is the most powerful form of educating”-John Wooden
Self Check: We can all find smaller role models in our lives who lead by example. Who do you look up to? What are the types of character traits you seek to develop in your life?

Have you ever been around a person who just manages to rub almost everybody the wrong way? Maybe they don’t mean to, but that’s what happens.

The way that somebody talks to other people and communicates with others, in general, will tell you a whole hell of a lot about who they are.

This person might mean well, but they actually talk to others in an incredibly condescending and holier-than-thou type of way. Maybe they are just downright rude to other people they are around, a sure sign you should probably avoid them.

How do they treat service staff? Are they smug, dismissive, and condescending?

The thing about people who talk like this to others is that they are usually covering up their own insecurities by speaking in such a way to others. Since they feel shitty on the inside they then feel the need to present themselves in a way as being better than others.

“Rudeness is the weak man’s imitation of strength”-Edmund Burke
Self Check: Do you communicate with people in a respectful and upfront type of way, or are you condescending and smug out of your own insecurity and bitterness?

How do they spend their free time?
I already know you want to be around people who are wholesome, want to improve themselves and spend their time in the most productive way possible.

You can bet if somebody spends their week working and then unwinds by getting hammered and/or watching Netflix every single weekend, they are probably not heading anywhere beyond the place they are already in life.

Do they have hobbies outside of what they do for work? Are they actively trying to become better at certain trades such as writing or even paint?

You want to spend as much time as you possibly can around people who are trying to level themselves up in life, after all you are the average of the five people you hang around the most. If you spend most of your time with people who get intoxicated, gossip incessantly, and consume mindless entertainment, then you will end up being just like them.

Self Check: Do you have anything in your life which brings you a sense of purpose outside of just your regular 9–5? What do you do to unwind? Is it anything life-giving, or is it just mindless pleasure-seeking?

Score Keeping
Have you ever had somebody in your life who will bring up either embarrassing stories or times you were at fault in your past as a way to win an argument or get you to feel guilty? It sucks, doesn’t it?

This is a very petty and small-minded way of communicating and relating with other people. It is a cheap attempt at one-upping others as a way to feel superior or morally justified.

When others cling to the past, it usually says a lot about them as they probably have not built up the strength to forgive, and this is also likely coming from their own place of insecurity.

Of course, there are big things in life where trust can get broken and relationships damaged to the point where time is going to be needed for healing, in which case you might need to take a break communicating anyway.

If somebody wants to bring up how you didn’t do the dishes that one-time last month, though, this is small-minded and petty.

Self Check: Do you make a habit of badgering the people in your life over past mistakes? If yes, why do you think you resort to doing so?

Wrapping it up
It should be stated that although some people can act in very off-putting ways sometimes, it doesn’t always mean they are a person who should be avoided. None of us are perfect after all, and I know I’ve exhibited each of these negative behaviors at some point in my own life. People can act toxic at times but still be deserving of grace.

You would want grace for the times you are less than your best self.

This is why your own sense of self-awareness is key to making sure you present yourself in as authentic of a way as possible, while not relying on gossip, rudeness, pettiness, or small-mindedness.

Also, be sure to check in with who you draw inspiration from in your life and how you subsequently spend your time.

We all need to check ourselves every now and then!


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