How to read people anywhere anytime...
As a psychiatrist, my job is to read people, not just what they say, but who they are. Interpreting verbal and nonverbal cues, I want to see past their masks into the real person. Logic alone won’t tell you the whole story about anybody. You must surrender to other vital forms of information so that you can learn to read the important non-verbal intuitive cues that people give off. To do this, you must also be willing to surrender any preconceptions, or emotional baggage such as old resentments or ego-clashes, that stop you from seeing someone clearly.
The key is to remain objective and receive information neutrally without distorting it.
Try these methods of reading people from my book The Power of Surrender. They all require surrendering pure logic in favor of also receiving alternative, non-linear forms of input.
3 Techniques to Read People
1. The First Technique – Observe Body Language Cues
Research has shown that words account for only 7 percent of how we communicate whereas our body language (55 percent) and voice tone (30 percent) represent the rest. Here, the surrender to focus on is letting go of trying too hard to read body language cues. Don’t get overly intense or analytical. Stay relaxed and fluid. Be comfortable, sit back, and simply observe.
Here are a few examples of the Body Language Cues. I outline many more useful techniques in The Power of Surrender:
1. Pay Attention to Appearance
When reading others notice: Are they wearing a power suit and well-shined shoes, dressed for success, indicating ambition? Jeans and a t-shirt, indicating comfort with being casual? A tight top with cleavage, a seductive choice? A pendant such as a cross or Buddha indicating spiritual values?
2. Notice Posture
When reading people’s posture, ask yourself: Do they hold their head high, confident? Or do they walk indecisively or cower, a sign of low self-esteem? Do they swagger with a puffed out chest, sign of a big ego?
3. Watch For Physical Movements
a) Leaning and Distance
Observe where people lean. Generally, we lean toward those we like and away from those we don’t.
b) Crossed arms and legs
This pose suggests defensiveness, anger, or self-protection. When people cross their legs they tend to point the toes of the top leg towards the person they are most at ease with.
c) Hiding one’s hands
When people place their hands in their laps, pockets, or put them behind their back it suggests that they are hiding something.
d) Lip biting or cuticle picking
When people bite or lick their lips or pick their cuticles they are trying to soothe themselves under pressure or in an awkward situation.
4. Interpret Facial Expression
Emotions can become etched on our faces. Deep frown lines suggests worry or over-thinking. Crow’s feet are the smile lines of joy. Pursed lips signal anger, contempt, or bitterness. A clenched jaw and teeth grinding are signs of tension.
Watch out this video to know more about how to read body language:
2. The Second Technique – Listen to Your Intuition
You can tune into someone beyond their body language and words. Intuition is what your gut feels, not what your head says. It’s nonverbal information you perceive via images, ah-has, and body knowings, rather than logic. If you want to understand someone, what counts the most is who the person is, not their outer trappings. Intuition lets you see further than the obvious to reveal a richer story.
Checklist of Intuitive Cues
1. Honor your gut feelings
Listen to what your gut says, especially during first meetings, a visceral reaction that occurs before you have a chance to think. It relays whether you’re at ease or not. Gut feelings occur quickly, a primal response. They’re your internal truth meter, relaying if you can trust people.