Not being argumentative may change you forever
I like to “People-Watch!”
I enjoy watching people’s actions, reactions, facial expressions, and even their emotions. It allows me to glean a great deal of information from a person just by watching their responses to various situations.
An important caveat is in order here: While I have extensive experience in “People-Watching”, I am not an expert! The words you are reading are mine and mine alone. My thoughts have been formed by 45 years of deciphering body language and verbal language in sales and service situations. But, that doesn’t make me a take-it-to-the-bank authority on the subject.
Having that out of the way, let me assure you, watching anyone’s reactions is a skill that must be practiced. Just like a professional athlete will practice each day, if you’re intent is to learn how to “read” a person, you need to practice every day.
Writers are a different breed, altogether. Writers have to be able to tell if their readers’ brains will be OPEN or CLOSED to certain ideas or philosophies they present. There’s a very thin line between “teaching” and “preaching”. A writer has to be willing, at times, to wade into the shallow end of the pool while also be willing to dive into the deep. In other words, writers have to achieve some level of balance in their writings.
Being attentive to a person’s verbal and non-verbal communications helps you know what is “safe” to talk about as well as what is “taboo”. Why is this necessary? Because, no one wants to be “wrong”, especially when they are trying to establish a new relationship or friendship. That would be akin to starting off on the wrong foot and having things get worse.
People-Watching is a learned skill. Almost anyone can develop this skill, as long as they put in the time and effort, have tons of patience, and constantly practice. I developed this skill as a career insurance professional over 45 years.
I have studied people before, during, and after I met with them, which helped me be prepared to meet with them, discuss the ideas I wanted to convey to them, and hopefully get agreement from them to move forward. I didn’t always get it right, either.
“Reading” a person is a very humbling experience. It is accomplished by taking mental notes of their facial expressions, their posture. and even the inflection of their voice as they speak. while also closely listening to what they say. If a person loses your attention for even a little bit of time, I can guarantee you will lose theirs!
That is why a person’s non-verbal communication is just as important as verbal communication. Watching someone “roll their eyes” or “wrinkle their nose”, or “crossing their arms on their chest” are tell-tale signs which give you a ton of information about their thought process and, depending on the subject of the conversation, how their belief system was structured.
I try to give a person the benefit of doubt as they convey their feelings and thoughts on any particular subject, especially if I disagree with their philosophy. I want to hear the other side’s interpretation of a subject because it helps broaden my understanding and occasionally brings light to holes in my own logic.
In conversation, I took great pain to distract my mind from my own beliefs so I could concentrate on another person’s viewpoint, no matter how dissimilar it is to mine. I find it keeps me focused on the other person and doesn’t detract from our conversation by becoming combative or disagreeable.
Like a dutiful reporter often does, I ask open-ended questions: Who, what, when, where, why, and how. By not being judgmental about their beliefs and opinions, I learn more about the person and can form my response to them in a more constructive manner.
Have you ever heard someone say: He/she sure is opinionated? Usually, it is said when someone offers their thoughts on some controversy or belief that is rooted in their upbringing or the “influencers” or role models in their lives. In reality, we are all opinionated. Some of us are just more vocal than others.
If you are intent on continuing an acquaintance with someone, I recommend you put aside your beliefs, your convictions, and, in essence, your ego. You should devote all your strength to learning about this new person in your life. There will be plenty of opportunity down the road to prove them wrong.
Your comments are appreciated, and thanks for reading!