Reading between the Lines
Understanding people—what motivates them, what they like, don’t like—is a key skill in life, especially at work. Knowing what your coworkers and boss want helps build trust, which is essential for getting things done. For some, understanding others comes intuitively. But for others, it can be a challenge. Fortunately, reading between the lines is a skill that you can learn.
Here are eight tips to help you understand people better.
1. Pay attention – Observe facial expressions, posture, and body language and especially microexpressions—a quick smile, frown, or raised eyebrow.
2. Don’t say much – Make the other person feel heard. Maintain eye contact and pause frequently to think about what the person is saying.
3. Make sense of it – Reflect on the person’s emotional state by thinking about what’s going on in their life and job. And remember, how they’re feeling probably has nothing to do with you.
4. Revisit your understanding – Gather more information by asking the person directly about how they feel and their reactions. They’ll be glad you noticed.
5. Find a role model – If you have a coworker who is really socially aware, watch them. You can learn a lot about reading people by observing their interactions.
6. Test your perceptions – Use humour or empathy and observe how the person responds.
7. Keep your emotions in check – You won’t be able to observe and gauge a person’s reactions if you become upset, hurt, or caught up in their emotions.
8. It’s not about you – You won’t be able to read between the lines if you’re focussed on yourself.
Source: Harvard Business Review