If someone screams at you, you know they’re angry. If someone cries, you know they’re sad.
Thus the basics of human communication.
However, things aren’t always as easy as that. In fact, the human mind is so complex and intricate that it takes a lot of extra effort to be able to read between the lines and learn about other people’s characters in depth.
Some people have an easier time than others, though. And that’s because they usually share these 7 specific personality traits.
1) They’re highly empathetic
Emotions are as chaotic as it gets.
They come and go, seemingly without any proper reason, and once they wash over you, there’s not much you can do to make them go away. All you can do is accept them and let them pass.
However, people who are highly empathetic have it twice as hard because they’re very attuned to the emotions of others, doubling their burden.
But that’s not always a bad thing. In fact, most empaths are exceptional at reading others specifically because they’re so in touch with the emotional world around them.
They can tell when something’s off, when the atmosphere shifts from something light to something much heavier, and when people are putting on a front while hiding powerful feelings underneath the surface.
If you’re highly empathetic, emotions are your gateway to other people’s minds.
Pretty cool, right?
2) They’re extremely observant
Of course, reason has a role to play, too.
People who can read others like an open book can usually combine the power of empathy with their deductive and inductive skills, resulting in a powerful blend of the emotional and the rational.
While deduction – a process where you begin with general ideas and dig deeper to find specific conclusions – helps us to unpack the overall behavior of someone, induction – drawing general conclusions from specific details – is a great way to read someone’s character based on a few traits or actions.
- Deduction: Kaitlin is quite pessimistic. What does this say about her ability to grow in resilience and handle stress?
- Induction: Jason gives in to pressure easily. Might this have something to do with his overall lack of self-esteem?
People who are exceptional at reading others can usually move between deduction and induction with ease, forming patterns and connecting dots seamlessly.
3) They pay attention to body language
This list wouldn’t be complete without body language, which accounts for a really high percentage of human communication – even though we may not even realize it.
The way you walk says something about you. The way you sit says something, too. The fact that you always bite your nails or play with your hair might give away how you’re feeling, and you might not even notice.
When someone’s an amazing reader of minds, they tend to pay attention to some common body language signals, such as:
- Gait (a relaxed gait hints at more confidence and a sense of calm than a rushed walk)
- Body postures (crossing one’s arms is a sign of defensiveness and withdrawal while putting one’s arms on one’s hips is an assertive – and sometimes aggressive – gesture)
- Speed (quick and jittery motions point to anxiety or impatience)
Even when you’re keeping silent, your body is still communicating how you feel. A person who’s a good judge of character will take notice.
4) They listen with genuine curiosity
When someone asks me how I’m doing, I know they’re just doing it out of politeness and for the sake of convention (especially here in the UK).
“How are you” has now become the equivalent of “hello”.
Not so much where empathetic people are concerned. No, empaths with a deep insight into human behavior are inherently interested in the people around them, and so when they ask you how you are, you can count on the fact that they genuinely mean it.
And while active listening *is* a very effective way to read other people, it is by no means a malicious strategy to get one’s hands at something to use against you.
Empaths just really care. And they care so much that they end up being very good mind readers as a result.
5) They don’t push you to open up
When people care a lot, they might push others’ boundaries a bit to force a deeper connection.
If you’re a good mind reader, though, you know that this approach is extremely ineffective and only makes people feel uncomfortable.
Pushing someone to open up is the best way to ensure that they fortify their barriers even more and close themselves off completely.
Instead, show patience and respect. Let people’s true characters shine through in their own time. Force won’t help anything. Kindness and compassion will.
6) They’re fascinated by psychology
People can be naturally great observers and empaths. But adding in some intellectual knowledge helps a great deal.
When you’re familiar with the basic psychological concepts that drive human behavior, you’re much better equipped to understand the people around you and see layers upon layers of complex inner conflicts that influence their behavior.
For example, learning about attachment theory has helped me immensely when it comes to romantic relationships. The same goes for the psychology of motivation, inner child healing, emotional processing, and more.
Thanks to all the theoretical knowledge I’ve accumulated, I’m better able to see patterns in the behavior of other people, as well as my own thoughts and actions.
7) They listen to their gut instinct
On a final note, people who are exceptional at reading others are also amazing at reading their own selves – both on a psychological and physiological level.
When their gut instinct is telling them that something doesn’t feel right, they don’t rationalize it away. They pay attention and listen. And then they take their intuition into consideration when making decisions.
Have you ever met someone but felt like something was just…off? That was most likely your intuition telling you that there was more to this person, something deeper and darker, and that you’d be better off leaving the situation.
Even if you’re not an empath, your intuition still tries to guide you through life – it might just take some more time and effort to hear it properly.
And once you do… you’ll become much better at reading other people’s true intentions. Because deep down, your body knows.