Judging Character

By | October 14, 2021

[October 14, 2021]  One of the most challenging character traits of leaders to achieve and to develop is the ability to judge character in others. Leaders are looking for specific traits that predict successful mission completion or are obstacles to teamwork. Sadly, we often see inexperienced leaders who misjudge character, leading to unforeseen problems.

“I admire men of character, and I judge character not by how men deal with their superiors, but mostly how they deal with their subordinates, and that, to me, is where you find out what the character of a man is.” – General H. Norman Schwarzkopf

As a leader, I discovered early in my military career that nearly all senior leaders are first-rate judges of character. Their capability was gained through hard-hitting experiences because, unsurprisingly, there is no other way to develop it. So crucial is this ability in leaders that those who cannot create the social skills necessary to distinguish good and bad character are often not advanced in their careers.

It is interesting that despite the importance of the talent to judge character, there are no U.S. military training programs dedicated to it. I think the reason may be due to its elusiveness. Yet, we frequently discuss among ourselves the concept of acquiring the suitable characteristics to succeed. This disconnect in training versus character development is striking. Although several civilian-based courses address it, I’m unaware of their effectiveness.1

Some people claim that the skill to make a sound judgment on the traits of others is inborn and is not learned. For example, they cite studies that show that dogs are good judges of character in people. I’m not sure if this is wishful thinking on their part. I consider myself an excellent judge of character. I worked hard to develop it, yet my wife is far superior to me and has less experience with people. Perhaps there is something to the idea that it’s innate.

Regardless of how we gain the ability to judge character, it is essential to note that those who cannot do so would be best served if they had someone close to them who could help. I admire those with this skill because they have always been the best people to work with and have as good friends.


  1. A cursory review on the internet reveals many civilian companies that claim they can show us how to make good judgments in others. Furthermore, one can find a number of studies in psychology that supports the idea that the skill is learned and not innate.


Please read my newest book, “Our Longest Year in Iraq,” at Amazon (link here).

Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

20 thoughts on “Judging Character

  1. Randolph Kessler

    We were once complimented for our discriminating tastes. Now we are racists. Crazy. A good person always has the ability to make good judgment.

  2. Shawn C. Stolarz

    Judging the character of others is the ability to judge their future behavior. This is, naturally, a positive trait in all of us. It allows us to be safe and content. It allows us to pick a mate and have good friends. Those who chose their friends and mates unwisely will suffer in their lives. I’ve seen it happen over and over. So, it is only reasonable, that we have the ability to judge character. Failure to do so, will mean failure in life. We cannot simply switch off the judging ability when it comes to any characteristics because they are all tied together. Thus the anti-judging character demand by leftists is doomed to fail.

    1. Eduardo Sanchez

      You got that right Shawn. And yet no one is standing up with any common sense to say STOP the madness. Why? We are cowards.

      1. Mr. T.J. Asper

        Gen. Satterfield has a whole mini-series on ‘cowardice.’ Highly recommend reading them. Just use his search engine in the upper right of his blog to search for the word COWARD and you will see plenty of results.

  3. Lady Hawk

    “You learn far more from negative leadership than from positive leadership. Because you learn how not to do it. And, therefore, you learn how to do it.” Norman Schwarzkopf
    I’m a big fan of Gen Schwarzkopf, so thanks Gen Satterfield for quoting him.

    1. Janna Faulkner

      He’s a man’s man. Of course, why wouldn’t the ladies love him.

  4. Cat A Miss

    Gen. Satterfield, nice going. I like your website. I’ve only been a regular reader now for a couple of months and I can see several themes. One of them is to be ‘responsible’ for yourself, and, if you get good at that, then help be responsible for others. Keep up the great work with this site and good luck on your pending book signing.

    1. Joe Omerrod

      Yeah, nothing like a good article and a hot cup of coffee to wake you up in the morning. Gives me a short of smartness and caffeine.

  5. Max Foster

    If you can’t judge character in others then I have an experiment for you. Walk in downtown Washington DC or Detroit, or Minneapolis or any other major city and see what happens to you. You will be robbed or killed. What does that mean in real terms? You can’t judge the character of those who live there and had better avoid them. It is obvious to anyone with a brain that judging others is a survival trait and highly valued.

  6. Rev. Michael Cain

    Another great article that testifies to our depraved society in that we discourage people from learning how to judge character. If you cannot do so, then you just might get yourself killed along the way.

    1. Sadako Red

      Correct, and just like the moral coward that Gen. Satterfield highlighted yesterday ….. van der Stupid (or Hilst) or something like that. We encourage cowardice and troll those who have important abilities to judge others. Or, should we just judge SOME aspects of being a human?

      1. JT Patterson

        Pow, you got that right, Sadako Red. Good to see you are still reading what Gen. Satterfield is writing.

        1. Dog Man

          You got that right. We all are big fans and would like to see more from Sadako Red and others that Gen. Satterfield has here as regular writers – great entertaining and culturally astute writers. Please Gen. Satterfield bring them back. We all love their hard-hitting, humorous writing styles.

    2. Billy Kenningston

      The nutjobs are saying that “judging” others is racist, homophobic, (fill in the blank -ist) and therefore we are bad, immoral for doing so. WRONG.

      1. Greg Heyman

        — and there are plenty of crazies out there because we tolerate them. Less tolerance might just be a good thing.

      2. Deplorable John

        I think that is the point that Gen. Satterfield is making overall. 👍


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.