How well do you think you can read someone?
This isn’t about mind-reading (although it’s close).
It’s a matter of knowing when is the best time to ask someone for a favor or bring up a serious issue with your partner.
It’s about telling when someone isn’t up to chat or when they’re feeling down about something.
Humans are tricky and unpredictable. Their moods can swing at any moment.
Navigating your way around their emotions is necessary for clear communication with each other.
You may unconsciously already know these things, you may not.
Here are 12 ways that let you know that people-reading is one of your better skills.
1. You Notice Their Little Gestures
When we’re speaking, there’s a tendency for us to use hand gestures to deliver our point.
We’ve gotten so used to it that it can often be difficult to talk in front of an audience without at least moving our hands to emphasize our words.
Indeed, such gestures can have a meaning of their own, one that an astute observer like you can notice.
When a speaker has taken the stage to give a presentation, you pay attention to their palms.
Body language expert Allan Pease talked about how the orientation of someone’s palms determines whether or not they are welcoming (palms facing up) or a bit demanding and managerial (palms facing down).
Others might not catch on to their hand gestures, but you do.
2. You’ve Met Different Personality Types Before
One of the ways that someone can get better at reading people is by simply having a vast experience with multiple different types of people — and there are a lot.
You’ve met people that are assertive, timid and shy, adventurous, humble, confident in themselves, foolish and fun, and serious and no-nonsense. You know at least one of each type.
That’s why you’re able to quickly understand how a conversation is going to go with someone who’s shyer or more confident in themselves.
This is what allows you to prepare yourself both mentally and emotionally for your engagements with them.
3. You’re Curious About People
You find people to be interesting. They walk around on two legs — some with their shoulders and back straight, while others with a slight slouch.
They move their hands about while they make noises of varying tones with their mouths.
But within each person is a story about their childhood or high school years that no one else in the world knows.
These are things that spark your curiosity, time and time again.
You catch yourself staring at crowds of people just sitting and walking around a mall or how they talk to each other at a cafe.
It’s your curiosity that’s enabled you to be such a good reader of people.
You notice what shoes they’re wearing, what their facial expressions are, and imagine what they mean.
4. You Can Understand Their Tone
When people are upset or if somethings’ bothering them but they don’t want to say it, they usually express it in other ways.
Their tone can drop to a deeper sound, one that’s meant to tell you that what they’re saying is serious.
When someone is excited, you can tell by the words that they use that they’re eager to get on to the next topic of conversation.
When you go out with someone for the first time, you can understand what they’re thinking about you — if they start to let their guard down, talking in a more relaxed way, and not that corporate-speak that they reserve only for other people.
5. You Notice Facial Expressions
Someone can send an entire message by their face contorts.
We just can’t seem to express ourselves without raising our eyebrows or moving our mouth around.
As someone that believes is good at reading people, you can immediately tell what someone is thinking by the way that their face changes.
When you tell them about a promotion that you’ve just had, they might give you the usual, “Congratulations!”
But you can tell by the way that they smile — if it doesn’t or does make their eyes squint like that of a genuine Duchenne smile — if they’re actually elated to hear the news or if they’re just saying that to be nice.
6. You Can Empathize With Others
When people open up to you about their problems with relationships or with finding the right job for them, you can easily see yourself in their shoes — even though you’ve never had a similar experience.
Your ability to empathize with others comes from the fact that you can not only actively listen to what they’re saying, but you can also tell from their body language that it’s been hard on them.
They seem to deflate and shrink, expressing how small and sad they’ve felt after their partner left or when they lost their job.
You can read from the hesitation and softness in their voice that this isn’t something that they usually talk about — meaning that they trust you enough to know about this side of them.
7. You Give Good Gifts
There are two kinds of gifts: the generic ones and the well-thought-out ones.
You’ve seen the generic ones. It’s the last-minute Hallmark cards that anyone can buy, or a fruit basket or a bottle of modest wine.
These are the types of gifts that someone gives when they don’t fully know the person yet.
But you don’t need to have known the person for years to understand what gifts they’ll appreciate.
Instead of getting a generic gift, you can get them recovery food because you noticed how athletic they are.
Or you can get them a specific band’s merchandise because you spotted that they have a tattoo of one of the band’s lyrics.
8. You Give Helpful Advice
When people usually give advice, the common answers would be to simply, “Stay strong” or “Just keep holding on” or “Follow your heart”.
But these are easy advice to give — often so cliche that they’ve lost their luster.
When someone comes up to you, you understand what they’re feeling and what they’re looking for.
When you give someone advice, it’s because you’ve taken the time to listen to their situation and shared advice that’s specific to them.
There’s no one size fits all with advice. Different people need to hear different things, and you’re someone that doesn’t repeat the advice that you give.
9. You Enjoy Being With People
Since you’re so curious about people, you enjoy spending your time with them. You often invite your friends for a lunch out together or spend a night at a local club that’s just opened.
You thrive off of other people’s energies. There are people whose smile is so beaming you can’t help but smile too.
And there are others that inspire you to be a better version of yourself because you’ve listened to their stories.
You also enjoy meeting and getting to know new people and forming new and lasting relationships with them.
10. You Know How To Act Around Them
Moods tend to swing at random moments in the day. It’s unpredictable.
When you want to give someone your comments about their work, it might not be the best time when you notice that they’re quieter than usual, and that they have blank stares while going about their day.
Catching someone at the wrong time can cause unnecessary anger or stress.
That’s why when you were younger, you might’ve carefully listened to your dad’s tone to see if he’ll be willing to lend you the money you need.
11. Your Gut Feelings About Others Are Often Correct
When your company hires someone new, you form your impressions of them in a relatively short amount of time.
You can instantly tell if they’re kind, stern, dangerous, or untrustworthy just by the way they greet your peers. Sometimes, you might not even have concrete evidence — you just get a feeling.
While others might give them the benefit of the doubt, you’re always on the lookout to see if they’ll make a mistake at work.
When they inevitably show how untrustworthy they may be, you’re quick to say, “I told you so.”
12. You Maintain Healthy Relationships
Everyone has their own emotional needs.
Sometimes they’d rather be alone for a bit or they want to go out to a nice dinner.
People aren’t often up front about what they’re feeling, so it takes a keen eye to respond to them in the way that they want to be responded to.
This is how you’ve built lasting relationships over time. You can read between the lines and through their actions and tones.
Reading people can be your superpower.
When you know exactly the right thing to say at the right time, it can make you more attractive to another person.
When you’re able to be there for them when they didn’t think anyone would realize that they’re struggling, that can be the birth of a truly special relationship.
People reading isn’t something that’s taught in schools but it’s one of the most effective ways that help you find success in your life.
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