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Ask HN:How do you understand people?
8 points by ekm2 1790 days ago | hide | past | web | 7 comments | favorite
Can you suggest a long term plan to improve one's understanding of human nature and to socialize:Books,experiences etc

I'm currently working my way through a book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0.


It breaks down emotional skills into personal competence skills -- self-awareness and self-management -- and social competence skills -- social awareness and relationship management. It's accompanied by an online assessment that gives you a score in each of the four areas, and helps you devise a plan to improve in the areas you need. It also discusses over a dozen strategies in each area that you can practice to improve.

So far, I really like it, it's very straightforward and the strategies it offers are really concrete and not terribly difficult to practice. My partner is also reading it, to support my own efforts (I need it more than he does), he is further along into it than I am and he's also been really impressed with it so far.

Make some time daily to think about interactions that you've had that day. Don't necessarily draw conclusions. If you take up a natural interest in the chain of events of human behavior, you'll start identifying various events and how they correspond to emotions/etc in context.

Also, observe what other people do, decide if you want to act that way, and then try it yourself.

IMO the best you'll get is a distribution of probabilities for what a particular event means, so don't expect hard and fast rules, but sometimes that's enough.

Clare Graves work on the different levels we operate from is really interesting and useful when dealing with different types of people and organisations.

This has been popularised into Spiral Dynamics. A search on this will get you a great base to start from.

Best book I've found on it is called Igniting Inspiration. Skip the first chapter to get to the good stuff.

Basic overview is that we each operate from a primary motivation. Eg power, universal truth and rules, material gain, harmony etc.

When you can see the signals for each type, you can speak their language and also understand yourself better in the process and why we do the (often irrational) things we do.

Understand yourself and you will understand others.

That big toothed guy from Family Guy, Tony Robbins actually has some not dumb things to say about the subject of human communication, thinking, mind "reading" etc.


Wish I could upvote this one twice. Listening and paying attention are crucial to developing understanding of people.

Listen, observe, ask.

This is probably the only thing I remember from reading Dale Carnegie.

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