You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him.
– Malcolm S. Forbes
Source list available at the end.
They look for things that you might have in common, instead of reasons to write you off.
They return their shopping cart to the corral, even if it’s not particularly close.
They attempt to have a conversation with the shy kids at school/college and try to get them to come out of their shell.
When they drop you off at your house, and they wait to pull out of your driveway until they are sure you’ve made it safely inside.
A person who picks up litter just for the sake of it. Like he sees a styrofoam cup near a bin, picks it up, and puts it back. I know I want to be friends with that guy.
If they treat subordinates, children, and animals with respect.
They don’t tell you they’re a nice/good/kind person. Genuinely good people, from my experiences, never need to tell you that they’re good people. Their actions do all the talking for them. If someone is doing good things but insists that others must know about it, be wary of ulterior motives.
They can make fun of themselves. Honestly, I don’t think super selfish or egotistical people can do this.
They make room for you in a circle of conversation you are hovering the outside of at a social gathering.
They remember a vague conversation we’ve had from a week ago and add more to the conversation.
They return the money that they borrowed without being asked to.
They check up on you.
People who can recognize their errors and then take corrective action. My wife and I had one argument while dating where she got pretty upset with me, ten minutes later, she apologized for how unreasonable she was being. Decided right then that she was a keeper. Do not tether yourself to someone who can’t accept that they make mistakes. You need someone that will progress with you.
Also, how well they treat people who don’t matter, and how well they handle small issues. Good signs. My wife is kind to everyone we meet.
They aren’t quick to judge harshly or make automatic concrete assumptions.
People who stand by you when you’re going through a TRULY hard time. Not just when things are easy or going well.
People who allow you to be yourself, and don’t judge you or want you to always stay the same.
They set boundaries, respect your boundaries, and are honest about their emotions. If someone says they don’t feel like hanging out today or they’re not in the mood for that restaurant or they’re comfortable stating that they don’t like it when you joke about X, so please don’t when they’re around. If they don’t pressure you to drink if you’re not up for it, that sort of thing. If someone is emotionally mature, it’s a good sign. If they’re not, they can end up manipulative or passive-aggressive because they can’t articulate what they need openly, end up bottling everything up until they explode at you, end up having no conflict resolution skills because they try to be a doormat and don’t know what to do when they really can’t handle something…etc.
They treat waiters well.
Holding the door open for people. A simple action that most people never do.
If they’re a good listener.
I knew my current SO was a good guy when he had to unexpectedly pet sit for his sister in law, who had two incontinent Dachshunds who were basically knocking on death’s door, and he (not even being a pet owner himself) would carry each one outside, place it carefully in the grass, let it do its business, pick it up, wipe its butt, etc., bring it back in, and repeat. Meanwhile, muttering occasional reassurances to them here and there. When they inevitably pooped on his floor, he calmly cleaned it up, patted their heads, etc.
There are plenty of people who are nice to their colleagues but treat the office cleaners as if they’re invisible (or worse).
Getting a round in and not expecting a beer back.
They don’t talk about people behind their back.
They love dogs.
For me, it’s other guys who are active feminists. Also, being able to ignore the stigma and endorse the principles we were always told we value is a sign of character, at least in my experience.
When they donate/volunteer frequently and think nothing of it.
Someone who treats everyone equally.
They return borrowed items on time.
Knowing what empathy and sympathy are and applying it to your life.
If they say ‘bless you’ when anyone sneezes.
They perform nice actions for the sake of being kind, not to get something in return.
When you are talking about something, but other people cut you off, they turn back to you and ask to hear the rest of it.
They are polite.
Someone who is down to earth and does not fake it.
Someone who prioritizes and acts toward self-improvement. Not just in the harder/better/faster/stronger sense, though ambitions are respectable, but in learning how to be a good friend, a kind stranger, a helping hand, a good companion, a good boss or colleague, or anything really that relates to having healthy relationships with other people. Someone who is also willing to take steps toward improving at self-care, self-respect, self-love, positive self-talk, and maintains at least a sliver of optimism even in the face of their hardest times. Someone who understands consent and seeks to understand it better. Someone who is learning how to not only talk but listen too.
I find that the most inspiring people are the ones with a lifelong willingness to learn more and improve.