We’ve all been there. We’ve fallen for the wrong person, picked the wrong boss to work for or hired the wrong employees. Here’s how to avoid it in the future. Here are four steps to become a better judge of character.
If you’ve ever misjudged someone, you are not alone. Most people have. It takes practice to learn to decipher people’s personality. Here are three steps that will make it a lot easier next time you need to be great at judging character.
Have you ever noticed how engrossed you can become in a conversation with someone? Maybe you are fully focused on the topic at hand, your brain working as fast as the cogwheels can turn to consider what is being said.
Or, instead of focusing on the conversation, you are focusing on how you are feeling and what you think the other person is thinking about you (or at least wondering what they are thinking about you).
Next time you have a conversation, any conversation, take a step back (metaphorically speaking). As the other person speaks, listen to their tone of voice.
Does it match the words they are saying?
Additionally, everyone is different, so you have to remember that when reading what their body is saying to you. There is no one-size-fits-all answer and everything must be taken in its entirety or you may misinterpret their thoughts or feelings.
The skill of reading and interpreting other people’s body language takes time.
How do people around you use their hands to gesture? Are they matching and mirroring you with their body? (We tend to copy each other’s movements unconsciously when we have a rapport with someone; chances are you copy theirs too.) Look at their face as well. What are they communicating with their facial expressions?
Learn how to read body language and what other people take from your body language and gestures too!
Examine Your Intentions
Do you really want that job? So badly maybe that you’d rather listen to the good things your interviewer is saying about the job than notice the fact that you don’t really like them, or the negative aspects of the job?
Do you really want to date that guy? So badly that maybe you ignore the fact that he isn’t great at replying at texts, doesn’t put any effort into coming up with dates and isn’t usually there when you need him? He would be great if only he put in the effort. But he isn’t.
As they say: food shopping when you are hungry isn’t the best idea.
If you want something badly or don’t want something, your desires get in the way of judgment. Best way to overcome it? There are a few:
When having to make a decision, take five minutes, five hours or sleep on it. Signing a business contract or deciding to be someone’s girlfriend can change your life, so take your time. Impatience might give you quick results, but they may not be the results you want long term.
Meditate. This allows you to get a bird’s eye view of your life and what you truly think about the people in it.
Examine your desires. Find out what it is you want. Then write down all your impressions about a person/situation. Not just the good, not just the bad, but all of them. Be careful to see both the positive and negative, and measure your own intentions against the pros and cons.
Listen to that Little Voice
You know the one. It’s the one that tells you to take the longer route to work on a day when you’d otherwise get stuck on traffic on the “faster” route. It’s the one that niggles you when everything is seemingly perfect because it just doesn’t feel right. It’s the one that tells you to go for opportunities that might not make sense at the moment.
That voice isn’t just intuition—it’s what you’ve picked up unconsciously from someone’s body language. It’s the details your conscious mind might not have registered, but your unconscious mind did register them. Sometimes it’s intuition – inexplicable, but true.
It’s easy to mix up the voices though. Fear will also speak to you. As will desire. So pay attention and determine which voice is what.
I once made a promise to myself that when my intuition spoke I had to pay attention. Many times, intuition does not seem logical at first. It’s not logical to run for the bus when it’s supposed to be there in five minutes. Yet, I found if I heard that voice, I would miss the bus if I didn’t run.
It took practice not to overrule the voice with logic. Sometimes logic or desire are so fast that I don’t even realize until afterwards that I had heard the voice. Especially if, say, I was really excited about something, wanted to do it and saw no logical reason not to do it, it was hard to listen to a voice that told me no. But every time the voice was right. So listen and become better judge of character.