One of the most important abilities I’ve found most useful in both my personal and business life is the ability to read people accurately and to have a decent sense of their personalities and emotions. For some people they have a natural instinct or sixth sense that allows them the uncanny ability to know if people are telling the truth, how they will react and what they will do. However, other than natural instincts, there are ways to increase one’s awareness and observations to a point where they too can read people accurately and predict how people will react and behave. Basically, if you want to be able to understand people better, you must work at it and keep practicing. Here are some simple guidelines I personally follow with great success over the years. With simple practice and determination, you too can better your instincts on reading people accurately and learn how to build sensitivity to gauge other people’s emotions and behaviors.
Before you can start reading other people at all, you must first have the correct frame of mind. If you do not have the right mind set, no matter what you do, you will not understand other people at all and you will actually become a very negative and irritating presence amongst others. First off, take a look at this list and see if you can honestly compare yourself to these concepts. If most of them apply, then you are off to a good start and more than likely already are very good at reading people. If not, see if you can apply these concepts to your own personality and force yourself to follow them for your own benefit. Now let’s take a look at the list:
- One must generally like people
- One must have an open and aware mind (Try not to be stubborn and pig headed)
- One must pay close attention to details of people (Physical & Emotional)
- One must be sensitive to all these details of people
- One must be patient to these details
- One must care to have this correct frame of mind
Once you have begun with the correct frame of mind, we now need to go back and discuss about people’s general instincts. Of course some people have better natural instincts than others; however, you must understand that everybody still has natural instincts. It’s just the matter of honing & trusting your instincts, which can be done to a point. Once you have built up your experiences and know how through learned skills, then you will be better equipped to understand your own instincts and learn how to follow them. There are 3 basic principals about general instincts that one should consider for their own purpose of improving their abilities to read others.
- One needs to have good Instincts! (Start to trust yours and learn to recognize them)
- Unfortunately, Instincts are innate but learned skills can enhance your Instincts to better serve oneself
- Trust ones 1st instinctual feeling not ones 1st superficial impression(difficult to do, due to the heavy influence of first superficial impression)
With the right mind set and understanding of how instincts come to play, you can now apply these learned skills to better hone your abilities to accurately read people. I have described a simple 3 step process to sharpen your instincts and experiences that will give you the learned skills needed to improve your abilities. Here are the 3 process needed to develop your learned skills:
- Categorizing (Physical, Mental, Environmental)
- Research and Analysis
The first step is training and it is the most straight forward process. You need to practice, practice, practice and then practice some more. You need to practice by interacting with different types of people through socializing, business interactions, observations, negotiations, arguments, etc (The more, the richer the experience, but it needs to be face to face and not electronically). You need to read and observe as much as you can, so that you are knowledgeable about many different topics and have a broad understanding of different opinions. Finally, the most important aspect of your training is to teach yourself, train yourself, beat yourself, do whatever it takes to make sure you, Listen! Make sure you listen carefully to examples, experiences and situations of others, so that you learn to advance yourself and observe more accurately. I can not stress enough about this point, if you don’t listen, you don’t see, and if you don’t see then you are just an idiot that stands there listening and seeing themselves only.
The second process which is actually a more detailed aspect of your general training is the understanding of categorizing and how it allows you to better sort out the differences and similarities of people. Once you can sort out and categorize people into a mental form or shape in your mind, then it becomes easier to figure them out and predict what, how, and why they will react in a certain way. Categorizing can be sorted into 3 distinct parts; Physical, Mental, and Environmental.
The physical aspect of Categorizing can be broken down into 3 key components, that one needs to be aware and keenly observant of:
- Specific physical traits (Look and Appearance)
- Specific movements or gestures (Body language)
- Specific sounds or sayings (Verbal language style)
The Mental aspect of Categorizing can be focused on 4 areas of thought with the 5th one an extremely useful technique by “Wilson’s Learning (4 Quadrants of Personality)”.
- Look for patterns, people tend to show or develop signs or portray images subconsciously (Habits).
- Pay attention to how they think, their thought process, the way they come to conclusions.
- Specific emotions or reactions (Non-verbal language)
- Know and understand their interests
- Wilson’s Learning, 4 quadrants of personality (Amiable, Driver, Expressive, Analytical) . Note: This technique is very useful and if possible you should study it or take their seminars.
The Environmental aspect of Categorizing can be summarized through observing 7 types of environmental factors that distinguish the different types of people. Pay close attention to these factors to help you categorize the traits of the people you are reading by:
- Understanding their culture and cultural preferences
- Understanding their religious beliefs and backgrounds, and how it may affect them
- Know where they live and come from
- Know family backgrounds and Value systems
- Understand how their Gender may be affected by their environment (Family, Culture, Tradition, etc)
- Know their educational & professional backgrounds
- Know and understand what type of Social or Business circles they come from
Finally, the third and last step is too continually do Research & Analysis of your results, while you are training and categorizing the details of the people you are trying to read accurately. By fine tuning these actions and results, you should also compare and asses the information with people you know of personally or compare with people of history, because, most likely they will behave similarly (remember; due to human nature, history repeats itself). Remember, to listen carefully and learn from other people’s experiences, but most of all, learn to trust your own instincts and know that you can do it!