How To Become Better At Understanding People

Lexa Pennington's picture

Knowing yourself is one thing, but actually understanding how other people function is significantly more challenging. You know your personal thoughts, but getting a grasp of those of others and how they drive their thinking is much harder. 

How To Become Better At Understanding People

It turns out that knowing other people well isn’t something you’re born with. Instead, it’s a skill to master, just like anything else. 

It's a skill that is well worth knowing, and will serve you well for life. 

The purpose of this post is to explain how you can become better at understanding people. We look at some of the techniques you can use, and how they can help you really get to know someone to find out how they tick. Here’s what you need to know: 

Challenge Your Assumptions

The first thing to do is to challenge your assumptions about what you think you know about the people in your environment. You may think you understand someone because of the way they act, but you often have to peer beneath the surface. Often, you’ll discover things there you never expected. For example, a tough-seeming person might have a soft heart, or someone who is always kind might be seething with rage inside. 

Be Curious

It also helps to be curious about others. Instead of believing you know everything there is to know about them, take some time out to explore more deeply. Try to learn where they’re coming from and what matters to them. 

Being curious can feel invasive, so don’t probe too much. Just let them speak and follow up what they say with questions. 

Read Their Body Language

How To Become Better At Understanding People

You can also try reading their body language to become a better interpreter of people. Certain physical cues can indicate how they feel and what they want to do next. Nonverbal communication is as powerful, if not more so, than words are.

Take time to study this and then try to spot it when you’re out and about. Look for it when you interact with colleagues or say hello to old friends on the street. 

Understand Theories About The Mind

It can also help to understand theories about the mind. These put most of the things people do into perspective, and give you a good insight into what they are thinking and planning. 

Finding out how to become a psychologist may also help. It can serve as an introduction to deeper topics that help you see how people function and why they might behave the way they do. You might love it so much that you have entire bookshelves dedicated to this! It's fascinating.

Practice Empathy

Another skill is to practice empathy. Caring about other people is something you can hone and develop over time. 

Empathy is essentially seeing things from another person’s perspective. You might not like what you see, but it is still helpful to view things from the other side. 

Once you know where the other person stands, it improves your ability to interact with them. It also lets you predict how they might feel depending on what you say. Practicing empathy means understanding and participating in a kind, thoughtful way.

Be Patient

Finally, if you want to get better at understanding people, be patient. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. Keep studying it and don’t give up. It’s a complex field, but well worth studying.