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How to understand people better
on 21 February 2014
An American survey has revealed that the two most wanted superpowers are time travelling and mind reading.
This is an investigation into how mind reading can be achieved with lots of supporting evidence and references. There are also some challenges to more recently developed theories such as body language (listen instead!) and why you shouldn’t try to “put yourself in the other person’s shoes” (as suggested by Dale Carnegie).
The author maintains that your egocentrism gets in the way of your judgment. For example, you might be surprised for a moment that a blind man can perform tasks at night with no lights because you need the lights on. Tough guy actor Mark Wahlberg was supposedly due to fly on one of the 9/11 hijacked planes and has subsequently said in interviews that there would have been a very different outcome if he’d caught the flight. Sure. We’ve all thought ‘I would have done XYZ, not ABC’. You cannot truly understand a situation (e.g. being involved in mortal combat) unless you have been there yourself or talked to someone who has.
The book continues by suggesting that you can improve your decisions by improving your knowledge about what other people think. Political pollsters ask people how they would vote today, and not some point in the future. It is better to get a perspective than to take a perspective. Just because someone has liked cooking for a long time doesn’t necessarily mean that they want cookery things for their birthday.
The conclusion to the book is refreshingly simple and practical. If you want to know what people are thinking, Ask, don’t Guess.