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8 Ways to Read Someone Better

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?

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Empathy

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.

 

 

  1. Appearance

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. 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.

 

  1. Objectivity

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.

 

  1. Patience

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.

 

Lead Article

 

Thank you for reading.

 

References:

 

Baker, E. (2016). How to Read People: 5 Secrets Backed by Research. Retrieved from Observer.com website: http://observer.com/2016/07/how-to-read-people-5-secrets-backed-by-research/, June 13, 2017.

 

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.

13 Comments

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  1. It’s cool there are many ways here. People can choose their own way to read someone. I’m better at notice someone’s behavioral and facial expressions, but i’m not when it comes to gut feelings.
    I might not memorize these eight ways above, but my conclusion to this article is that what we really need to read someone better, is how much we pay attention to our surrounding, in this case, other people. Thanks! These 8 ways help me to learn the techniques of reading someone.

  2. I agree with this article for the most part; In my experience, its really a combination of the bullets and also consistency. I also think some are naturally born with the ability to understand others and read them without even saying a word. I’m very observing by nature and i think that has allowed me to understand or read people. Overall i love how this article is structured, very easy read and relate-able.

  3. Hmm I’m not sure how I feel about this article as it doesn’t really have much to say on each bullet point. What I mean is that a lot of those facts may be true but with information like that I think you could add more information on them. You should also include the research methods that your sources used if their were any. Also, the bullet points on body language and appearance should really be one bullet point all together because appearance and body language practically mean the same thing. Regardless of some minor mistakes the article was readable so I’ll give it that.

  4. I think this article was well written ! It was not trying to convey a “tip that works everytime” and really showed that reading people is a difficult subject, so that was enjoyable.

    I believe there is a small part I did not completely understand (probably because english is not my first language), in the “Gut instinct” part : are the 43% and 48% the results obtained with the logical reasoning ? If so, does anyone have the percentages for the intuition, which I believe are higher ?

  5. On the topic of Gut Instinct:

    I feel this is probably one of the most important things we can do to better grasp our lives and world around us.

    Our instincts have been finely tuned and honed over hundreds of generations. They are real, and they nag at us, they pull at the pit of our stomach, saying, ‘Hey! Something is up….be aware.’ And yet, sadly, more often than not, we find it easy to push aside this feeling, to over-think ourselves out of the truth of the matter at hand.

    We aren’t taught in school how to identify or heed the warnings of our instincts. We are just allowed to live and hopefully, stumble upon the reality of it well into adulthood. I truly believe the world would be a much better place if we could focus on a real, and more fundamental style of education, not just reciting facts and figures, but real life lessons…like how to hear and respond and respect your ‘Gut’.

    We are told, as contemporary and cutting edge humans that our reason and logic are our only compass worth relying on, but this is just not the case. There is a simpler, more instant and reactionary version of our minds, settled down deep within. Doing billions of calculations every second, taking in information we don’t even know we are aware of. This is our Instinct. Our subconscious mind peeking out above the surface, somewhat rarely, but to great effect.

    We should listen to it more often. Especially when trying to read another Human being. We are picking up signals from them, analyzing them and reaching an instinctual ‘bias’ toward them within seconds. And while this may not be 100% of the picture, It can still be fundamentally correct. If we get negative vibes from a person, we should take that seriously. If we get positive inclinations, we should also listen to that. If we are unsure, if no ‘Gut instinct’ is felt, it is time to move down the list.

    Over time, as the communication continues, our shallow, more present mind takes over. We take in the whole scene, body language, mimicry, appearance, their attitude. All of these things come into play when attempting to read a person, but all of these on their own are never going to be enough to get a true feeling on a person. Time and Patience are key to understanding our fellow human beings. But sometimes, we just don’t have the time, or the luxury of being patient. This is where our instincts come into play, all we have to do is learn to feel when it is happening, understand what it is that is happening, and to trust that in general, it will not steer us wrong. We would all be better for it.

    -Josh

  6. This was well-written, I do agree with the general points brought to the discussion, but I think the crucial part is to be able to get over ‘yourself’ while learning to read someone else. People are often so preoccupied with what they bring to the table when meeting someone that they rarely have time to assess what’s actually going on in the initial interaction. I’m sure this CAN be learned to overcome though.

  7. I understand what this article was about but then again I don’t. It was fairly simple to read and straight to the point but I think I may have missed the point. I don’t think people can learn to read people, I think its something that people are just born with. My question for the author is is it possible to strengthen your people reading skills? Does it make a significant difference.

    • I am not the Author, obviously, but if I may, I can help shine a little light.

      I feel in general, a lot of us agree, we are either ‘born with it’ or we are not. But I also strongly feel that there can absolutely be lessons worth learning, skills to improve on. First and foremost I think is just, being more self aware. Analyze yourself and your reactions to normal, every day stimuli. Figure out what you feel, when you feel it, and why you felt it at all.

      After time, you begin to see the same or very similar behaviors and reactions from the people around you. Now, of course, everyone is different, but to be Human is to be Human. It is impossible to ignore or diminish the things we all share. This would include some of our most basic and rudimentary behaviors. If you reacted in a specific way to something, chances are a majority of folks will have a similar reaction.

      Eventually you will be able to look across a room, see an interaction between two different people, and you will begin to be able to read the situation from a distance.

      Practice makes perfect, but one must practice on oneself before any of it will really start to make sense.

      -Josh

      • I was born with it. It’s very easy for me to read people. I just think its a subconscious thing that not everyone can do. Only perfect practice makes perfect and nobody’s perfect so i’ll just have to agree to disagree with you.

  8. Really interesting article, easy to read and straight to the point. I like how you added examples to each point to make it easy to understand. It is all objective, all the points make sense and something that could be done within a 5 minute conversation with another person. Thanks!

  9. I love how straight to the point and simple this was. You didn’t beat around the bush, you got right to the information and conveyed it in an easy to understand way – very nice! I would like to see a few more tips though on things such as how to pay more attention to your gut instinct instead of over thinking, how to get rid of past influence and look at things in a more neutral way – just as someone who struggles with things like that sometimes. Tips on how to overcome blocks that may prevent some readers from putting these to use would be very helpful!

  10. I really enjoyed discovering there is a factual study to back up we should trust out gut instinct!
    Author explains several points with a full amount of elaboration for each point. Easy to read and understand and valuable information!

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Written by Brittany Sessions

Profile photo of Brittany Sessions

I'm 18 and have always been passionate about psychology. Writing and posting articles on here is a dream come true. I am currently studying Psychology at University and plan to further my career into research. I am particularly passionate about cognitive psychology and mental illness.

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8 Ways to Read Someone Better