How many times have you found yourself thinking that you just don’t understand people? I’m willing to be that merely thinking about why people do what they do is frustrating to you, and it can easily get your worked up, angry, and upset. That’s why understanding people is so important to your happiness. When you can put a finger on why someone acts a certain way, you can let it go and get on with your day instead of dwelling on it.
I’m not talking about understanding people in the sense of listening and comprehending what they are saying. I’m also not talking about pretending to understand people by putting your own labels on them from your experience with them or with your life. I’m talking about looking past what they are doing and saying and understanding exactly where they are coming from and becoming as close to a mind-reader as you can get.
Sometimes, people are going to put on a front to make you believe one thing as they think another. For instance, an adult child may pretend that she is happy in her marriage while she is around her mother so her mother thinks that she is having a great marriage. But she may be being abused or just generally feeling unhappy in the marriage, and it’s important to be able to see beyond the words in that case.
Or, your lover may tell you that they are fine, but if you are able to see beyond their words, then you can infer what they really mean and help them in whatever way you can.
So, understanding people is important for:
– Better relationships
– Removing judgment and thinking the worst
– Feeling good about others
– Improving self-confidence
– Making other people feel good (The ultimate gift you have to give!)
Understanding People Means Understanding Human Behavior
Human behavior is dictated by a lot of things, such as values, culture, genetics, society, and family. If you really want to understand people, take a course on human behavior. It will help you understand why humans act the way they do and give you a ton of insight that will help you not only understand people better, but socialize better as well, because when you have a good understanding of why humans do what they do, you can react in a way that pleases them and makes them like you.
You can also spend your time observing people and figuring out why they do what they do, or observing yourself and figuring out why you do what you do. Being curious is the ultimate way to get insight into human behavior and start understanding people better.
But, there are some things that everyone can learn right now in order to understand people and interact with them better. Following are 4 of those things.
1. People Don’t Like To Move Out Of Their Comfort Zones
The comfort zone is a place where people feel most comfortable psychologically. Understanding people and their comfortable zones is important. When they are forced to move out of their comfort zone, they will try to get back into it as quickly as possible. This pretty much happens in two stages.
First, the thought of having to move out of the comfort zone is implanted. For instance, being asked to go to a party where they know nobody is going to put them mentally out of their comfort zone as they ponder it. As they start to feel uncomfortable, their mind will start to find reasons to avoid doing it. They may visualize the worst and then start to talk to themselves negatively about the party.
Second, if they can’t talk themselves out of going, or have to go for one reason or another, they will be awkward and maybe even a little bit more emotional than normal.
Obviously everyone has different degrees of reacting to stepping out of their comfort zone. Some people who are used to doing it will minimally visualize something bad, but try to counteract it, and then try to make the best of the situation when they are put in it. However, some people will react really poorly during this time, and it’s important to understand that their reactions are simply from being uncomfortable and fearful, and not from a place of anger.
For example, a man who hates public speaking but has to speak in front of a group may react overly stern towards questions. He may come off as arrogant and a know-it-all, but in reality that may just be the reaction he is having to the stress he feels from being out of his comfort zone. He may actually be a nice, humble guy who is really shy in his everyday life.
Signs Someone Is Out Of Their Comfort Zone
It’s important to recognize when someone is out of the comfort zone so you can avoid judging them negativity. Signs of being out of the comfort zone include:
– Fidgeting with their fingers or tapping their feet.
– Talking about how they don’t really want to be there – even jokingly.
– Touching their face or neck while talking.
– Backing away from or standing apart from others.
– Not making eye contact.
– Displaying exaggerated gestures.
– Trying to act unnaturally confident.
– Looking around to see if others are looking at them
How To React To Someone Out Of Their Comfort Zone
The goal should be to make them feel more comfortable, not less. So, once you realize that they are fearful and nervous, not angry or arrogant or any other negative emotion, you can avoid doing things that make them feel less comfortable, like giving them dirty looks, challenging them, or being rude to them.
– Be kind and patient so that they can start to feel more comfortable around you.
– Make them laugh if you can as that is a great way to make someone feel more comfortable.
– Show interest in them to let them know that stepping out of their comfort zone wasn’t in vain.
– Make them feel included in the situation so that they can start to relax and feel like they fit in more.
2. People Don’t Like Feeling As If They Are Not Special
Understanding people want to be noticed will help you treat other people the way they want to be treated. We all want to feel special and important, even if there is no reason for other people to make us feel important.
For instance, at a restaurant, people want to feel important to the server and anyone else in the restaurant. If they see someone else getting more attention than them, they can feel as though they are not as important to the server, and that can affect how they feel about the server and even how much they tip. Moreover, it can affect how they feel about themselves. They may feel as if something is wrong with them for the server to give them less attention than someone else.
Everyone has different degrees of wanting to be noticed. Some people don’t care as much as others, but when they are getting completely ignored, then that’s when things get frustrating. They can start to feel like they don’t matter or are not welcome, and that’s a pretty hurtful thing to feel.
Signs Someone Feels Like They Are Not Getting Attention
Putting thing into context helps when understanding people and their need for attention. For instance, if you are at a party, then you can watch their behavior as they move through the night and put two and two together. Signs that they are feeling left out include:
– They were talking to you and acting normally and suddenly they are acting cold or short with you.
– They suddenly give you less attention after they were just being attentive to you.
– They start acting inappropriately in ways that are meant to get attention.
– They are part of a group but instead of listening and talking, they are looking around as if they don’t belong.
– They suddenly stop interacting with a person, group, or event.
How To React to Someone Not Getting Attention
Often just giving them some individual, authentic attention is enough to make them feel better. They want to feel special, and if you can fill in that need, then you can make them feel really important and good about themselves.
– Acknowledge them as often as you can.
– Give them eye contact when you talk to them.
– Refer to them if you are talking to a group so they feel as if they are being thought about.
– Offer them something extra that makes them feel special.
– Encourage them to participate.
3. People Don’t Like Feeling As If Their Character Is Being Attacked
Everyone has their own set of beliefs and habits, and when they are told that what they are doing is not right they can become defensive and upset, not just with the people who are telling them they are not right, but towards everyone around them as they deal with what feels like an attack on their character.
Everyone is doing the best that they can. This is crucial to remember when working towards understanding people. They are working with the knowledge they have. They are living according to their ethics and beliefs. They are doing things the best way they know how. Even someone who is mean and hurtful is doing the best that they can, and telling them that they are not right is not going to help you change them, it is just going to make them upset and angry.
Signs Someone Feels As If Their Character Is Being Attacked
Again, context may be needed here. If you see someone in a conversation and they start reacting in the following ways, then it’s pretty obvious that their character is being attacked. In addition, if you have a family member who is normally quite energetic around you, but becomes very shy and secluded around your Aunt Betsy, then Aunt Betsy is likely someone who attacks their character.
– They are defensive when asked questions about themselves.
– They feel the need to justify their actions, thoughts, or behaviors.
– They argue over big and little things in order to get their point across.
– They get angry and say hurtful things towards others about their ethics or beliefs.
– They stay quiet and try not to give too much information about themselves.
– They suddenly stop sharing personal details about their life.
How To React To Someone Who Feels Like Their Character Is Being Attacked
It’s important to open up your awareness and remember that they are doing the best with what they have. If you feel they are wrong, that doesn’t mean that they are wrong, it just means you are believe they are according to your own ethics and beliefs in life. It’s important to let others know that you don’t judge them and that it’s alright for them to have their own beliefs.
– Allow them to share their opinions without trying to shove yours down their throat.
– Don’t tell them they are being stupid, overreacting, or not reacting enough.
– Don’t treat them as if they are stupid, overreacting, or not reacting enough.
– Don’t correct every little thing they say with what you think is right.
– Don’t look at them as if they are crazy when they talk about themselves or what they have done.
– Don’t act like their feelings are not important.
– Don’t make fun of them, even if you think that it’s all in good fun it can still hurt their feelings.
4. People Don’t Like Change
Understanding people don’t like change is important for healthier relationships. Even people who are constantly working on their personal development don’t like a lot of change. But, for some people, change is very uncomfortable, scary, and seems like it would take too much effort. People will do pretty much everything they can to resist change when they don’t want to.
When change happens, people can feel like they lost some control over their life, which is a scary feeling to have. Life starts to look different and things that used to make them feel confident suddenly make them feel scared. Moreover, they have to put more effort into change, which seems like a nuisance to a lot of people and can make them annoyed, angry, and even sad.
Signs Someone Is Resisting Change
If you are around someone and you ask them to do something new or ask them about something they need to change and the react in the following ways, then they are likely resisting change.
– They complain about the thought of doing something new.
– They opt out of new experiences that you know they would like.
– They don’t want to do anything that is out of their daily routine, even if it would benefit them.
– They say ‘no’ much more often than they say ‘yes’.
– They try to back out of things last minute.
How To React To Someone Who Is Resisting Change
It can be tempting to yell at someone who won’t budge from their day-to-day routine, but that’s not going to work towards helping them change. That’s simply going to attack their character, which we already know they don’t like. So, there is really only a handful of things you can do.
– Accept that people change on their own terms, and let them be who they are.
– Stop judging people as if they need change – maybe they don’t.
– Lead by example and show how beneficial change is to your life.
– Let go of the need to be responsible for other’s happiness.
– Accept that maybe the person doesn’t need to change in order to be happier or more fulfilled.
– Subtly show what positive change can do for their life through TV shows, documentaries, or by sharing stories.
– After you have tried to influence positive change, accept people’s choices and stop resisting it.