Key Leadership Trait to Learn This Year: How to “Read” People

readMastering the art of “reading” people

Where Leaders succeed and Managers fall short is in their attitude towards their co-workers or employees.  Managers just expect their employees to listen to them and do what they say, but Leaders know that to really get people to give you 110% you have to build a trust with them – which starts with listening…and that comes as a result of knowing how to communicate.

First thing everyone needs to practice more of: LISTENING!

Communication is a two-way street…don’t just talk and say what you want to say and then close the door.  I know too many people that do this and it’s so disrespectful.  Spend time listening to the other party….really listening! It will give you an insight into what is going on with them at the moment and to better understand a situation and best way to approach it.

Those that have mastered this skill have learned to not only pay attention to what the other person is saying, but also to what they are not saying…the underlining tone in their voice, their body language, etc.  When you monopolize the entire conversation, not only is it plain rude but it shows you have no interest in what they have to say and don’t respect them enough to allow them to talk…to “hear them out.”  It is these things that cause employees to develop “attitudes” towards their Managers, who in turn continue to treat their employees poorly instead of stopping and realizing THEY are a part of the problem.

Employees who aren’t allowed their turn to talk tend to not share details or ideas regarding the topic that first started the conversation.   Make it a point to ask open-ended questions to get the employees to open up more.  Prove to them that you are really interested in what they have to say…and they may ending up yielding more information than you first expected as a result.  It will help you to easily build a bond with the employee which will lead to trust down the line if you continue to show them simple respect.

Second thing: Stay Non-Judgmental!

Part of “reading” a person is to give the impression that you are passing any judgment on them already. Biggest give away? Your facial expressions – give the wrong one and they will stop the discussion.  If someone thinks – even a little – from your tone or facial expressions that you’ve lost interest or are now passing judgment, they will pull back and shut down.  Some will even put up a wall as a protective mechanism that will be twice as hard to bring down once it is up.

Think you don’t do this?  How many times have you rolled your eyes during a discussion, yawned, changed the subject mid-discussion, checked your phone or even crossed your arms in front of you while talking?  All of these are triggers sending a subtle message that you don’t care or aren’t listening anymore.

Last thing: Trust Your Intuition

I like to say that each of us like a little psychic when it comes to reading people because all of us can point to a time when “that little voice in our head starting bugging  us.”  Some call it their “gut feeling” or a “vibe.”  Either way, they are instincts we have based on past experience or training that automatically elicit a response about a person or situation.  More often than not, many of us try to quiet that inner voice because we either don’t want to believe what we are thinking is correct or don’t want to bring it up and become the “bad guy.”

Everyone has a “first impression” about a person or situation – good or bad.  When you are trying to learn how to read a person, you need to keep these impressions in mind as the conversation or situation continues…even if part of you doesn’t want to trust them.  Those impressions will later serve as a warning to heed…or sometimes, they will give you insight into the person so you better understand why they say what they do or react to situations.  That is developing the “full picture” about a person.

We’ve become such a fast-paced society and lost some of our social skills with the more frequent use of mediums such as email or texting so retraining yourself to stop – slow down – and listen can be challenging at first. But once you give it a try and see the benefits, try to make it a habit. It will make your role as a Leader or a Manager that much more effective down the line.

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