Conversations that will help you discover the character of another

Relational Rehab with Dr. Terry
Greetings to all my readers. I am excited about this week’s blog. We are going to address how to direct your conversations to really get to know another, in terms of character.
Last week you were given an assignment, which hopefully you have completed. You were to list those character qualities that you desire in others as well as those traits you want to avoid. You were also asked to write scenarios which would describe their expressions.
People are attracted to each other for various reasons some of which dangerously cause one to accelerate while on the relational highway.  Unfortunately, this can cause individuals to make a commitment before they have really gotten to know each other. After the fact, many couples end up in my office or seek help elsewhere over their regrets.
So, if you are not yet in a committed relationship get your list out from last week and take some notes from this week's blog. And, if you are in a committed relationship and are finding out things about your partner that is unacceptable to you this information can still be helpful so taking notes will help.  Then continue to follow each week in order to learn how to specifically deal with issues around those unacceptable character traits.
But, for now, let's move onto our subject for this week, "Conversations that will help you discover another's character"
We all know what kind of an answer we would get if we came right out and asked, “Are you honest?” Are you faithful? Are you respectful? Or, are you responsible?
When wanting to get to know another’s character it is best to direct your conversations in the form of a behavioral interview meaning to ask open ended questions that will help them to share their story. You will also want to tell your stories to see what response you receive.
The following are a few sample questions you could ask rather than: Are you honest?
• Has there ever been a time when a store clerk gave you too much change?  If so, what did you do?
• Have you ever had a time that you had to make up a story to stay out of trouble? If so, tell me about it.
• Is there anything that would make you want to tell a lie? If so, tell me about it.
Now, here are a few statement examples which can be used to elicit a response that would express one's character.
• One time the store clerk gave me $20. extra… I was already home by the time I realized it but got back in the car and drove all the way back to return it.
• I use to hang out with these guys that were always getting into trouble. Not major stuff but enough to make me want to quit being friends. The thing that helped me stop hanging out was when they wanted to cheat on a test because they had not taken time to study. I sat in front of one and beside of the other in class. I tried to ignore them as they tried to get my attention but the teacher made a bust and we all got an E for the exam. I almost failed the class because of it.
• I remember a time that my sister wanted me to cover for her while she snuck out to meet some friends. I trusted her to be home by 11 pm but it was after 2 am when she tried to sneak in. Mom and dad just happened to be awake and heard her open the door…they didn’t even realize she had been gone. Now they wanted answers about how she got out without their knowledge. I wanted her to take the wrap all by herself but because I actually helped her I went ahead and confessed to my parents. They were not too happy with either of us so we both got grounded for a week.
Take a look at the following sample questions that can be asked rather than: Are you faithful?
• In your past relationships was there ever a time that you had an opportunity to be with somebody else?  If so, what did you do?
• What would you do if you had a chance to be with the movie star of your dreams and you were already in a committed relationship?
• What would you do if your spouse was not able to have sexual relations...ever again, due to an illness?
Now, here are a few statement examples which can be used to elicit a response.
  • When I use to go with _______ I had a chance to go out with this really good looking guy. I knew that _______ wouldn’t find out because he was out of town that weekend and this other guy wanted to take me someplace that nobody would know either of us. I thought about how I wouldn’t want ______ to do that to me so I refused the offer from that good looking guy.
  • A few weeks ago a friend had tickets to go to the Panthers home game. We could have sit right in the front row but I had do decline the offer because I had already committed to helping another friend move that same day. Wow, I hated to miss out on that game but I couldn’t put my other friend in a bind.
  • Years ago I had promised to help my mom go through dad’s things when she was ready. He had been gone for just about a year when she called to cash in on that promise. It was not good timing. I was in the middle of getting settled into my own apartment and trying to plan a party for my friends. I honored my promise and was able to put the party off for another week.

The following are a few sample questions you could ask rather than: Are you respectful?

  • Tell me about a time when somebody was really rude to you?
  • What would you do if you were sitting in a waiting room with all the seats occupied and a woman was left standing?
  • How would you handle it if a clerk was slow behind the counter and you were standing in the long line?

Now, here are a few statement examples which can be used to elicit an honest response.

  • Did I ever tell you about the time that my neighbor came out of the house acting all rude with me because my dog defecated in her yard? I had never seen her act that way so it really shocked me. I kept my composure, made apologies and told her I would do better about keeping the dog on a leash.
  • Growing up my mother made us take our shoes off at the door. There was never a time that anybody could wear their shoes in her house. After she passed I still continued to remove my shoes even though others decided to wear theirs inside.
  • My sister left her diary out in the open the other day. Oh how I wanted to peak but did resist because I knew diaries are considered to be private.

Now take a look at the following sample questions which could be asked rather than: Are you responsible?

  • What would you do if you had a chance to go to your favorite game but you were scheduled to work?
  • What are your thoughts about Father’s who don’t pay their child support?
  • Let’s say that there was this thing that you had really been wanting and you came across a onetime deal to buy it. The problem would be that you would not be able to pay your mortgage on time if you were to make the purchase.  What would you do?

Now, here are a few statements that you could make to get a response.

  • All of my friends were going out for a nice evening together but I had to stay home to study for a final exam I had early the next morning.
  • I had already gotten into bed last night when I remembered that I had forgotten to go to my friend’s house to let her dog out and feed him. She left early yesterday after asking me to check on him later that day. Though I knew she would be home today I had to get out of bed and go take care of him because I agreed to do it and he needed my care.
  • Money was tight last month because of some extra expenses incurred with the business trip I made. In order to pay all of my bills on time I ate mac and cheese for a few weeks. I am so happy that this month I can buy groceries I prefer and enjoy.

This week we have covered only a few character traits along with a sample of questions and statements to show us how to discover the true nature of another. Many of my clients have been able to check things off of their list using this method of communication. Some have discovered that they don’t like what they discover and deal with it appropriately, while others have grown closer to the one they have interviewed because they like what they learn.

Give it a try and please write your request if you need help with how to phrase a specific character question or statement.


Dr. Terry

2 thoughts on “Conversations that will help you discover the character of another”

  1. An interesting discussion is worth comment. There’s no doubt that that
    you ought to publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but
    typically people don’t discuss such topics. To the next!

    All the best!!

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