Not everyone excels at reading people naturally.
When you first meet someone new, how long does it take you to suss them out?
According to research, first impressions are made within 7 seconds.
Being able to detect people’s emotions and understand their personalities even without being clearly told (or failing to see when they’re hiding something) is a key aspect of emotional intelligence.
Being good at reading people is a great skill to have.
If it’s not something you currently consider your forte, check out these 8 signs that natural people readers exhibit:
1) You have a strong sense of intuition
Having a strong (and usually accurate) sense of intuition about a person is often a sign that you have exceptional skills when it comes to understanding people.
You might get a strange feeling deep down in your gut that someone has bad intentions.
Equally, you might feel tingly and radiant and immediately warm to someone else.
All before they’ve even uttered a word.
Some people just do have a great sense of intuition.
They can decipher a person and their intentions in a matter of minutes.
This means they can pick out the good eggs from the rotten (or just not so great to have around), and decide who to spend their time more wisely amongst.
After all, your close social circle does have a great impact on who you are as a person.
2) You pick up on body language
You know those tiny cues that often go unnoticed
A pursing of the lips or scratching of the lobe can indicate a withheld lie.
Equally, you might notice someone excessively fidgeting or biting their nails, suggesting anxiousness.
Or you’re conscious of someone encroaching into your personal space and seemingly disrespecting your boundaries.
Non-verbal cues are like a mother tongue to you.
You observe these small changes and behaviors and are able to deduce what mannerisms or intentions a person has just from observing the minute ways in which they move their body or face.
3) You can detect minor changes, even over text
Being skilled at understanding people often means that you’re hypervigilant when it comes to sensing changes in mood or behavior.
This also counts for online communication.
You notice when someone’s texts sound a little off (they’ve stopped using emojis – it’s time to panic).
You also notice when someone goes silent on social media and are always quick to step in and check in on them.
For some, this constant state of heightened awareness can be a hindrance.
Hypervigilance is often a consequence of trauma.
I, for example, learned to stay on high alert and keep an eye out for even tiny changes in the behavior or speech of those around me after growing up in an abusive household.
But hypervigilance doesn’t have to be a bad thing.
It can be incredibly useful when it comes to reading and understanding people.
If you’re able to pick up on people’s emotions without them having to actually tell you, you’re likely adept at understanding them incredibly well.
Maybe even better than themselves.
4) You’re highly empathetic
To understand people, you must be able to put yourself in the shoes (or minds) of the individual in question.
This requires a great deal of empathy; the ability to understand and share the feelings of other people.
Without empathy, you’d have a hell of a hard time understanding people to be honest.
It’s crucial for being able to really understand where someone is coming from.
When someone tells you how much they’ve been hurt by the loss of a loved one, how annoying the delay on their morning commute was, or how aggrieved they are with their boyfriend’s behaviors – you’re right there with them.
You feel their pain as if it were your own and empathize with it.
Equally, you celebrate people’s achievements and feel their joy just as much.
You’re over the moon about your friend getting a promotion, are delighted when your mother finds her favorite type of potted plant at the garden center, and are the first to burst into tears when your best friends get hitched.
You feel and share the emotions of those around you, a bit like a sponge (even if it is a heavy burden to carry at times).
5) You’re no doubt a bit of a charmer
A key benefit of being able to understand people is to be able to understand what they want, and how you can use your knowledge of their demeanor to win them over.
A bit of a superhero power, this can be used both for good and evil.
Your ability to understand the inner workings of someone’s mind means that you’re able to present to them a certain je ne sais quoi that works in your favor.
You quickly realize that someone’s a big cat fan, you bring up your childhood tabby cat.
You notice that someone drinks beer, you tout all the niche craft ales you’ve sampled.
You notice that someone’s a little shy and reserved, you quietly whisper that social settings also give you a bit of angst to provide them comfort.
This charm can propel you far and wide in both the working word and social settings, so use it to your advantage (but in an appropriate and respectful manner!)
6) You’ve met a lot of different people
Being exposed to a larger number of individuals means you’re able to broaden your understanding of all the different ways in which minds work.
In meeting new people, you’ve encountered the arrogant, the shy, the friendly, the confident, the boastful, the fake, the flamboyant, and everything in between.
This has allowed you to better understand and learn about the different ways in which people conduct themselves.
After all, what better way to learn and to understand better than to have a wider study sample?
7) You’re curious about those who you’ve met
And the many people you have met fascinate you.
You love asking them questions about their interests, their childhood, their philosophical views, their favorite colors.
Your curiosity often gets the better of you and you get lost in studying others.
You’re most likely found sitting at a café, people watching and making up elaborate back stories for passers-by, or in a group setting idly observing your friends to see how they’re interacting with one another.
Learning more about other people and their interests furthers your understanding of the human mind which you can apply to new people you meet.
There’s few things you enjoy more.
8) You’re trusted and respected
Feeiing like someone really understands you is an amazing sensation.
Often, we feel misheard or misunderstood.
Stumbling upon a unicorn who really gets you for who you are without you having to put on a show or share your life story is an incredible feeling.
So I wouldn’t be surprised if you’re the person who people turn to when they want to vent or share personal details.
They know that your empathy and understanding will enable a more profound level of communication and insight.
They don’t want to waste time trying to gauge advice from people who struggle to understand them (or plainly don’t care), so you’re the go-to when it comes to intimate discussions and guidance.
As a naturally understanding person, people turn to you when they want to be understood.
If you’ve read these and come out thinking wow, I’m a natural when it comes to reading people, you should be pretty pleased with yourself.
Many struggle with detecting emotions or decoding mixed messages.
This can lead them to be deceived or manipulated, or just have a hard time developing fulfilling relationships.
If you fall into the latter category and are trying to improve your ability to understand people – you’ve come to the right place.
Many of these signs will be useful to begin incorporating into your daily life.
People-reading also takes practice. You don’t have to rush into a stressful situation like a party or networking event and try to activate your detection skills.
Instead, try practicing these skills on strangers in your day-to-day life.
Try and interpret how the barista who makes your morning coffee is feeling.
Or what topics that one student in your class who spends the hour lost in thoughts might be thinking about.
Or what the life of the passenger sitting in front of you on the bus might be like.
With time and practice, you’ll turn into someone who is exceptional at reading and understanding others.