People can sometimes give out mixed signals, or our natural intuition or skill is confused with our own perception, values and past experiences. So, how can you overcome these setbacks in order to learn how to read someone better?
- Gut instinct
Majority of people don’t trust their gut feelings and instead trick themselves into believing what they want to believe, either through logical based decisions or simple matters of the heart. However, researchers at the University of California tested some participant’s intuition against their heads. The results showed that the participants could only recognise a lie 43% of the time and the truth 48% of the time compared to their intuitive response which resulted in a higher percentage of people knowing who is telling the truth. Therefore, strengthening our belief in our gut instinct or intuition can give us an edge in reading people better, as our first impressions are oftentimes accurate.
- Speech and Behavioural Mimicry
Some people from the first time you meet them put up a false persona or attempt to manipulate your perception of them. False perceivers can be noticed in what behaviour is exhibited as they speak to you. People who are usually being honest and genuine will mimic your words and actions. This shows that they are indeed in sync with you and your emotions. If you can observe these hints in others; it will definitely be a big help in your readings.
Some people have a natural talent in empathising with others. While some have a harder time reading and understanding emotions. In order to read or understand someone better good listening skills and the ability to tune in with others emotions and understand them is key. American Psychologist Carl Rogers emphasised the importance of empathy in his teachings and therapeutic methods, as he states “…deep understanding is, I believe, the most precious gift one can give to another.” This will help you see things from their perspective and, thus, read their emotions and intentions better.
Making judgements on appearance can be against what some people believe: that you should never judge a book by its cover. However, someone’s appearance can give you subtle hints into their personality. A neat look, for example: a suit or a neat dress can be interpreted as a hint that the person is organised or diligent. Whereas a sloppy look, for example: messy hair and dirty clothes gives off the impression that they are lazy or a slob. Use these points to your advantage in order to read their personality.
- Body Language
Similarly, to point 2, body language is a major giveaway of someone’s emotions or intentions. If a person you are observing is feeling nervous or trying to mislead, anxious actions can be observed. This time instead of their speech and emotional response to you, watch their hands, their face or their posture. If someone is constantly touching their face or there are minimal hand gestures, this can all point to someone lying or deceiving you. Provided that someone’s smile doesn’t raise their cheeks or crinkle their eyes it is most likely not a genuine smile. Given that someone is leaning away from you it is also a sign of disinterest or deception. These cues by themselves could mean nothing but nerves or anxiety but if all of these signs are present you’ve probably got a liar on your hands.
- Facial Expression
Some facial expressions can be hard to interpret, either because one side of the face is showing a different side to the other, or because we don’t know what signs mean what emotion. Some are quite obvious. For example: happiness can be seen with an upturned smile, “crow’s feet” by the eyes and raised cheeks. Sadness can be seen when the eyebrows are turned upward and furrowed and the mouth is turned down. Pretty easy to spot, right? For the most of us it comes naturally. However, some emotions aren’t as easy to spot as they are a mix of different expressions. For example: embarrassment. Those who are embarrassed often times smile and can be mistaken simply as happiness or shame. However, the lips are tighter than a happy smile. Another emotion that can be hard to spot is compassion as it looks similar to sadness. However, lips are pulled tight when compassion is felt as opposed to sadness where lips are pulled down. Learning these subtle clues can give you a significant advantage to reading people better.
Despite using these tips to try and read someone’s emotions or intentions, an emotional stand point can lead to inaccurate bias. To successfully read someone, approach the situation in an objective manner. Leave all past experiences or feelings of this particular person behind (if they are not a stranger) and focus on what they are saying and how they are behaving in the moment. Our feelings can create a false impression on what they are conveying.
In order to be able to read someone better, it will take practice. People are extremely complex and picking up on your own and others subconscious cues will take time. Be prepared to not be an immediate expert and do not immediately assume anything of a person you just met. If the communication is continued they will open up at their own pace.
Hopefully, these eight tips help you in future encounters.
Don’t be afraid to tell me what you think.
Thank you for reading.
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Griffiths, S. (2014). Why You SHOULD Go with Your Gut: Instinct Is Better at Detecting Lies Than Our Conscious Mind. Retrieved from Dailymail.co.uk website: http://www.daily mail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2588722/Why-SHOULD-gut-Instinct-better-detecting-lies-conscious-mind.html, June 13, 2017.
Krauss Whitbourne, S. (2013). Five of Psychology’s Most Practical Tips. Retrieved from Psychologytoday.com website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog.fulfillment-any-age/201306/five-psychologys-most-practical-tips, June 12, 2017.
McGregor, T. (2016). Defining Empathy Skills in Practice: Carl Rogers and Unconditional Regard. Retrieved from Owlcation.com website: https://owlcation.com/social-sciences/Empathy-in-practice, June, 2017.
Orloff, J. (2014). Three Techniques to Read People. Retrieved from Psychologytoday.com website: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-freedom/201402/three-techniques-read-people, June 13, 2017.
Wikiel, Y. (n.d). The Secrets to Reading People’s Emotions Online and in Real Life. Retrieved from Realsimple.com website: https://www.realsimple.com/work-life/life-strategies/how-to-read-people, June 14, 2017.