The Three Keys to Reading People
1 Listen more... say less
Active listening is the crucial first step. If your goal is to read someone accurately, then it’s not about you talking; it’s about allowing the other person to share information with you. The more they talk, the better informed you will be. Pay attention not only to what someone says but also what they don’t say. Do they seem to leave out certain details in their story? Are they looking at you when they speak? Every word and gesture they use will give you real insight. Don’t cut people off while they’re speaking. Let them first tell their story, and come back later with follow-up questions. Ask open-ended questions. If you want to know if your boyfriend went out last night, it’s best to ask, “So what did you do last night?” rather than “Did you go out last night?”
2 Perfect your poker face
When you are trying to read people, you want them to speak to you uninhibitedly. So don’t openly judge, even if you don’t like what someone has to say. When people feel your disapproval, they will filter themselves. And then you won’t be able to read them accurately. Even if you are feeling angry or suspicious, try to hold in your emotions for as long as it takes you to assess the situation. Be aware of what your face and body are saying to other people. Don’t roll your eyes, clench your jaw, or cross your arms in front of you. Instead, maintain a soft facial expression, hold a relaxed posture, and lean in. Having a poker face is not about sitting emotionless—be attentive and nod politely in response in order to encourage the person.
3 Trust the voice in your head
How many times have you heard someone say, “I had a strange feeling about him”? That’s because 99.9 percent of the time, your instincts are right, even when you logically can’t explain why. We tune out our inner voice when it involves the people we love—we desperately want to believe they wouldn’t betray us. We accept their excuses and rationalise their behaviour. If within the first few minutes of meeting someone they give off a vibe that repels you or causes you to pause, don’t ignore it. It’s your gut instinct telling you to be careful. Likewise, if you ever find yourself questioning whether someone is lying to you, they probably are. You don’t need anyone to give you the answers to these questions. Actually, you already have them.