How can you tell if someone has good character? That they operate with integrity? It’s tough. And, if you don’t know them very well, it might seem impossible.
It’s not like you can ask them straight up, “Hey, you there, do you have integrity?” Even the worst of scoundrels would offer a sly smile, and a devious, “Of course!”
So, how can we get a reliable read? Any kind of insight on whether this relatively unknown person might be of admirable character? One answer lies in gauging when they say "no.”
People who have integrity and good values apply standards to just about everything they do. The standards vary, but they apply them consistently. That’s how they make good choices. Their standards and values form the basis for sound decisions. Thus, they say “no” as often as they say “yes.”
People with wishy-washy values and poor character don’t have real standards to apply. So anything that seems, in the moment, to be in their best interest always receives a resounding, “Yes!”
Next time you’re judging whether someone has good character, consider how often they say “no.” Probe for that. What deals, relationships, trades, opportunities and offers do they say “no” to? Anytime the person you’re assessing can’t explain when and why they say they answer thusly, you have gained a direct lens into character.