Can you really Read people?

6 Mins read
can you read people
can you read people

Yes you can. Reading people has nothing to do with psychic or the so called telepathic abilities that the likes of Professor X from the X-Men have. It’s all about analyzing people.

It also has nothing to do with the amazing detective capabilities of Sherlock Holmes who, despite all the millions of variables in any scenario, is able to figure out every little tiny details about a person’s character, background, motive and movements. Of course, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character and nobody can read people quite that well. We can all get better at it, though.

What Sherlock Holmes movies, shows and books get wrong is that you can’t know a lot about a person based on one interaction and one tiny detail. For example;

Sherlock Holmes will notice a shoe scuff mark on the side of the wall and from that he is able to completely realize this person must have fallen a certain way and done this and that and so on. But in reality there’s 20 different ways you could have had that scuff mark. That’s why we have to look for trends in behavioral residue.

This is why you would need time and a lot of information in order for you to read people accurately without making any assumptions about them. This requires a lot of involvement in their lives, access to information about them, pictures, their friends and families.

In the real world, reading people entails a lot of empathy and involvement in people’s lives. To read people you would need to be highly curious about so many tiny details in people’s lives and character.

Emotional intelligence entails social awareness which involves the skill to understand other people and interact with each other: communicate and getting along, that help us understand each other and get along better.

Social awareness‘s big part is being able to know what other people mean and say, this is done by reading people; their verbal and non verbal cues, their emotions and inferences. Reading people is a skill that all of us need to master, it helps us get along with each other better without the need of disclosing all our secrets and inner beings to each other.

You have heard people say, or maybe you say it yourself, that you are good at ‘reading people’, and I put that in quotes because most of us don’t understand what it means. We sometimes think we are able to read people when in fact we are just making assumptions and our own opinions about them.

It is hard to read people if you are not familiar with the different character and personality types of people, or else its gonna be easy for you to make assumptions and preconceived notions about someone.

Reading people is much easier if you are so self aware of yourself, like the Bible says;

You hypocrite! First, remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.

matthew 7:5

What is the meaning of reading people- emphathy

Reading people is the social skill of being aware of what other people are saying, thinking and hiding through sheer observation of verbal and non verbal cues.

Reading people entails a lot of Empathya part of emotional intelligence that helps you be aware of, understand and relate to other people’s emotions and struggles.

LaRae Quy, a former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent fof over 24 years said;

“You don’t need to be a top-notch interrogator to figure out what is going on in someone’s head. The signals are always there–all you need to do is know what to look for.”

larae quy

Many psychologists say how first impressions are critical to reading a person. First impressions provide a baseline and clean slate void of all biases and emotions directed towards a person. Therefore, to sketch your people reading skills, you will need to focus on first impressions first and then the rest will follow.

So why would you want to read people

Personally I love reading people for the heck of it, I mean its fun. I may as well call it a hobby of mine. Some people say I love doing it because I enjoy judging people due to my cynical and skeptic tendencies. Either way, I still love it.

To be empathetic to someone’s emotions and feelings

Can you imagine dating someone who can barely tell when you are sad or frustrated? Can you be with someone who won’t know what you are feeling unless you tell them? It’s a nightmare right.

The lack of empathy causes most of us to feel neglected and abandoned by our loved ones who can’t relate or even understand the pain that we are going through. Most of the times, when we feel alone and isolated, it is because of the lack of empathy that our loved ones have. Not that they don’t care about us and the things that we are going through, but because they lack the skill of understanding, being aware of and relating to our emotions.

The truth is that most people who are suffering and going through hard times in their lives would rarely use their words to tell their loved ones because they fear burdening them and inconveniencing their lives. You should learn how to read people so that you can be able to relate to their struggles without having them verbalize their emotions.

To know people’s true intentions

We live in a world where manipulation, scamming and con schemes are a daily dose of life. You never know when people might be after your money, fame, social status. Its sad, but its the world tht we live in.

Some people may have good intentions when trying to manipulate you but it is still manipulation either way. You need to be able to read people so that you don’t fall prey to people who might want to take advantage of you.

To build your social skills and EQ

It has been said that your IQ can land you a job, but your lack of EQ can get you fired. This is because your emotional intelligence and social intelligence are much greater determinants of the success you will achieve in life. This ranges from your communication skills and productivity levels at the work place.

Reading people will help you get along with people much better since you will know what to do and what not to do around certain people. Hence, building your emotional intelligence and social intelligence in a whole.

So lets get to what you have probably been waiting for, how to read people;

How to read people like ‘Sherlock Holmes’

  1. Curiosity – it will keep you on your toes when it comes to reading people. You will need to first be in a position where you would want to question each and every thing about a person, and be able to spend as much time as possible trying to figure them out. Curiosity gives them the power to push through uncertainty and ask tough questions. The most successful salespeople have boundless curiosity. They win more, and more often, because they never stop looking for ways to improve. That’s why being curious will bring you new ideas and show you paths that you hadn’t considered before.
  2. Learn their personalities – our core values rarely change (some argue that they don’t change at all). Getting to know someone.]’s core values and traits will help you read them better by giving you the baseline to their character. For example, knowing that someone is highly conscientious and open will give you the idea that they are more prone to say what they mean and do what they say.
  3. How they describe themselves – we all want to portray a certain image to people so that they can see us for what we want them to see rather than for who we actually are. This is why it is so beneficial to get the person to describe themselves, who they are, what they like, the hobbies they are into and their principles. From this, you can be able to gauge their level of self awareness and self confidence.
  4. What the friends and family say about them – nobody knows us better than our friends and family, they know our strength and weaknesses better than we do. By paying attention to how they are treated and perceived by their closest friends and family, you will get to paint a picture of who they are by seeing them through someone else’s eyes.
  5. Notice the deviations – pay great attention to the deviations of who they perceive themselves to be from who they actually are and who they are perceived to be by their friends and families.
  6. Body language and non verbal cues – This is where the real power of reading people comes in. We tend to say less than we mean and show less than we intend to. From the smallest movement of your hands to the way you stand, body language is a powerful form of nonverbal communication that most of us express and interpret without thinking twice. The most crucial aspects are posture, eye contact, and personal space. Pay attention and learn how to interpret the non verbal cues.

For more tips and psychologically proven ways on how to read people, check out this video from Brainy Dose:

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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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