There’s one skill that will stand you in good stead all your life, and that is the ability to read people using your intuition, your innate sixth sense, if you like. From deciding whether someone is genuinely friendly or is attempting to manipulate you, from dealing with a family member to assessing your new boss, being able to read people is a valuable and fascinating art.
Reading or Judging?
There’s a big difference between reading someone and judging them. Reading them is objective observation, whereas judgment is coming to a conclusion based on little or no factual evidence. Humans actually do both those things all the time, but you will find that developing your people reading skills is so much more rewarding than making ill-informed snap judgments.
While you may practice this art instinctively, your conscious mind may not be aware of the subtle signs of body language. Many books have been written about this, so it’s not possible to cover everything about body language in this short article. Here are some basic things to look out for:
- Posture: Are they confident in the way they stand and move? Are their movements deliberate or hesitant?
- Eyes: Do they hold your gaze just the right amount? Does their glance flit about uneasily or do they lock onto your eyes or face so long that you begin to feel uncomfortable.
- Leaning: If they lean toward you, they find you interesting and likable. If they lean away, they are trying to put distance between you. You may notice that you do the same thing.
- Smile: Do they smile easily, or not at all? Does the smile flit across their face momentarily or do they seem genuinely pleased o meet you? A person’s smile can tell you if they are focused on you or if they are distracted.
Of course, someone who is not confident may attract you more than someone who appears over-confident. Many people will gravitate towards another who seems out of place in order to join forces. A person who is constantly worrying at themselves, for example, biting their nails, chewing their lip, or picking at the skin on their fingers, is often way out of their comfort zone.
Observing someone’s body language is usually the first impression you receive. Don’t try to process the information, simply observe.
What About Your Intuition?
When you are introduced to a new person or simply start talking to them, your intuition will tell you more than anything else. With practice you can easily hold a conversation while tuning into your gut feelings.
- Do you feel comfortable or uneasy?
- Do you have an emotional response to this person?
- Do you have any physical response, such as goosebumps?
- Do you have a sense of recognition?
- Are you able to tune-in to their emotional state?
- Do you experience flashes of insight (information not expressed verbally) while interacting with them?
Energy, Auras, and Vibration
Mixed in with the intuitive signs described above is the important aspect of a person’s energy. Again, this is not a skill you can learn overnight, although some people have it without knowing or trying. This is the ability to discern the energy surrounding a person.
All of us have an energy field and it can be a positive one where others are drawn closer, or it can be negative, almost a psychic warning to others to keep their distance. When reading people see if you can pick up an impression of their energy field.
Let them talk, or sit quietly together, while you try to empty your mind momentarily and feel their energy with your own. Does it feel welcoming or repelling? You might even notice the other person glance at you curiously because their own intuition is telling them something is going on.
Their vibrational level is also mixed in with their energy, however, it can also be distinguished in a physical way, by listening to their words and how they express themselves. Someone with a low vibration will not be very animated. They will show a low level of enthusiasm. A person with a high vibration will be engaged, interested, and enthused. Their eyes will shine and they will be eager to talk and listen.
Ignoring Your Conditioning
In the western world, we have been taught that politeness is important and not to intrude into someone’s personal space. However, at the same time we have been conditioned into accepting people as they present themselves. Often we subjugate our intuition and instincts even when they are screaming at us. So recognize when you are acting according to your conditioning instead of your intuition. Your intuition can signal important information to your conscious mind in a flash. When you learn to listen to it properly, you will become a master at discerning a person’s true nature and motives.
What Can You Do with this Information?
When you begin to learn to read people intuitively you probably won’t be able to do anything. It’s best to simply observe and learn. Journal and make notes about your first impressions, then revisit them after you have become more familiar with the person to see if your observations were accurate.
As you practice and become more aware of the subtle signs, you can use them in a positive way. You can put people at their ease by mirroring their body language and by deliberately calming your own emotional levels. Lower your voice and slow your speech. One of the easiest ways to relax someone is to steady your own breathing and movements.
Knowing and recognizing the signals could also protect you. When you are in danger, your intuition knows it first. The discomfort should propel you to move away from that person as quickly as you can. When someone is trying to manipulate your thoughts, you can see it in their eyes and body language. Often their words will be sweet but the energy around them will feel sour.
Paying attention to these signs will result in a deeper understanding of each new person you meet. It’s an ongoing, ever-learning process. Sometimes you will be spot-on; at others you will be less successful. Listen to your intuition—it knows, you know?