When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.

What's the meaning of this quote?

Quote Meaning: This quote is a powerful reminder about the importance of trust in our own perceptions and the signals other people send about their character. In essence, it suggests that people often reveal their true nature through their actions and behavior, especially during their first interaction.

The "first time" in the quote suggests that we often get instinctive or immediate indications about a person's character, values, or intentions. However, humans have a tendency to second-guess their initial instincts, or to give people the benefit of the doubt even when they have shown problematic behavior. This quote suggests that instead of disregarding these initial impressions or excusing someone's actions, we should trust and consider them seriously.

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For instance, if someone is dishonest or unkind the first time we interact with them, this quote suggests we should not dismiss this as a one-off occurrence or make excuses for them, but rather recognize it as a likely reflection of their character. This isn't about being judgmental or unforgiving, but about acknowledging that actions often speak louder than words and using this knowledge to inform our expectations and interactions with them moving forward.

Additionally, this insight doesn't just apply to negative behaviors. If someone shows kindness, respect, or integrity when you first meet them, consider that these virtues might well be part of their essential character. The essence of this quote is to listen, observe, and trust your instincts when people reveal their nature through their actions.

Who said the quote?

The quote "When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." was said by Maya Angelou (Bio / Quotes). Maya Angelou was an American poet, author, and civil rights activist who is best known for her memoir "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.

Is there a historical example that illustrates the message of the quote?

In the early 1930s, as the Great Depression gripped the United States, a charismatic and ambitious politician named Adolf Hitler rose to power in Germany. Through his speeches and writings, Hitler revealed his deep-seated hatred and extremist ideology, particularly targeting minority groups such as Jews. However, some foreign leaders, diplomats, and even members of the international community chose to dismiss Hitler's rhetoric as mere political posturing or believed that he could be reasoned with.

One notable instance was the Munich Agreement of 1938, where British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, in an attempt to avoid war, negotiated with Hitler over the fate of Czechoslovakia. Chamberlain believed that he had secured "peace for our time" and that Hitler's assurances of peaceful intentions could be trusted. However, it soon became evident that Hitler's true intentions were expansionist and aggressive.

This historical example serves as a stark reminder that when someone reveals their true nature through their words, actions, or ideology, it is essential to take them at their word and recognize the potential consequences. Failing to believe someone's true character or intentions can lead to grave miscalculations and devastating outcomes, as witnessed during World War II and the Holocaust.

How can the quote be applied in a real-life scenario?

This quote suggests that people's actions reveal their true character and that we should take these actions as genuine indicators of who they are. This idea can be applied in numerous real-life scenarios. Here are a few examples:

1. Personal Relationships: Let's say you've just started dating someone, and they consistently show up late for your dates or frequently cancel at the last minute without a reasonable explanation. This behavior is showing you a lack of respect for your time. Even if they apologize each time, their actions are revealing a lack of reliability or consideration. Believing what their actions show you "the first time" would mean recognizing this behavior as a character trait rather than an occasional misstep.

2. Professional Relationships: Imagine you're working with a colleague who takes credit for your ideas during team meetings. They may otherwise be charming or pleasant to work with, but this action reveals a lack of respect for your contributions. By believing this action "the first time," you'd take steps to protect your ideas in the future, such as discussing them directly with your supervisor or documenting your contributions.

3. Friendship: Suppose you have a friend who tends to gossip a lot and shares other friends' secrets with you. While it may seem like they're simply being open or candid, their actions are showing you their willingness to betray trust. Believing what you see "the first time" would involve recognizing this tendency and being cautious about the personal information you share with them.

* In all these scenarios, the idea is to pay attention to actions more than words, as they often provide a more honest indication of a person's character. This doesn't mean people can't change or deserve no second chances, but it's a reminder to take note of patterns in people's behavior, as these are often insightful.

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Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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