It is not only FBI profilers that read people – you have to read people in order to figure out how to get from them what you want and the better you are at it, the more likely will you be able to achieve your business goals. As a businessperson you have to read, customers, employees, potential employees, vendors, lenders, investors, etc. in order for you to figure out how to get them to choose behaviors consistent with achieving your business goals. So what is the secret to reading people?
We form an opinion about people we meet in the first 3 or 4 seconds of interaction with them, much, if not all, of this initial reading of a person is based on their physical presentation and body language, the rest on the first words out of their mouths. In this time period we are assessing the person in terms of 1) threat level, 2) power hierarchy, 3) compatibility factor, and 4) malleability factor. After we have the first impression we then, albeit mostly unconsciously, decide on how we will go about getting this person to choose behaviors that are consistent with our achieving our desires.
But do not forget and you should always be aware of is the fact that the person you are reading is also reading you and for the same reason, to figure out how they can get you to choose behaviors consistent with achieving their desires.
The other thing to remember is that we humans are complex critters; we do not just have one story, in fact we are like a section in the library with multiple books (stories) to be read. The section of library is determined by our core identity which provides a template for every role we use in our lives. The specific book you will be reading is determined by the role the person you are reading is enacting at that time. A role, in this context, is like a set of policies and procedures that a person has developed to guide their behavioral and attitudes choices in a specific area of their life. When you read a person you will need to do so based on the role they are using for a particular situation. Think about all of the roles you have, which may include being a spouse, a parent, a friend, a businessperson, manager, a customer and so on, for each of these you will have a set of policies and procedures unique to you, but to some degree shared by society in general. And, for each role your story to be read has a different genre. Therefore to be accurate in your reading of person, means knowing the section of library and which book from that person’s library section (role) you are reading.
There are four ways to enhance our ability to read people:
- Have a real theory of human behavior,
- Improve your listening and observation skills,
- Use empathic thinking, and
- Use inductive reasoning.
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