how do you read people

I see myself as a writer, and occasionally I tell others that I am a writer. Or, more precisely, I tell others that I write. I mean, telling others that I write shows I can produce good writing or bad writing. Telling others I’m a writer means that I should have written well, which I probably have not.

Anyway, considering myself a writer, I decided to go to the Melbourne Writers Festival. Last Sunday, I dragged my faithful boyfriend (because Sunday is our date day), and we sat down on one of the seminars titled, ‘The World According to Short Stories’.

One of the speakers, short-story author Paddy O’Reilly, said this:

How we read people tells so much about us than how we behave.

Yes, it does.

If you’ve known me for quite a while, I’m pretty sure you’ll say that one of the adjectives that describe me is judgmental. Yes, I judge. I criticise. And like all other writers, I have an opinion for almost everything. I pay attention. I analyse. I think deeply about simple, random things and how those may signal greater, significant problems.

Like, I have an opinion about someone who’s earning zero dollar while doing what he loves. I have another opinion on someone who’s earning truckloads of money while doing something she hates.

I have an opinion on people who do things because they want to or do things because they want to fit in. I have on opinion on those who give a shit about what others think and who don’t. I have an opinion on practically everything.

Of course, at the very least, I always try to be in their shoes and put everything into content and context, but most of the times, of course, I fail.

Always a fan (and ex-student) of Psychology, I’ve read a paper on what you say about others says a lot about you. Essentially, research found that if you see people positively, you’re more likely to have positive personality traits (in other words, you are happy, kind-hearted and emotionally stable). In contrast, if you see people negatively, you’re more likely to be narcissistic and anti-social. (Okay, we all know where I stand on this scale.)

While the correctness of the paper can always be disputed, I think it’s fair to say that if you judge people negatively all the time, there’s something wrong with you. Probably that’s how your brain signals you that hey, this particular area really troubles you.

Some days ago, I scrolled through my Instagram and smirked at how flawless the pictures of my friends were: beautiful views, perfect bodies, awesome sense of fashion. It turns out probably I do care about dressing up and how people think of me, despite trying to not care about how people see me my whole adult life.

I’ve always thought that I’m a nice person. Okay, probably I’m not that nice, but okay-nice. And I’ve always thought that I’m emphatic towards others. Oh wait, probably I’m not that emphatic. Probably I’m still living in a bubble of negativity, succumbing to my human nature of always finding the wrong things from other people, and not seeing their best.

Think about it. Be honest with yourself. How do you read people these days? It would tell you a lot more about yourself than how you actually see yourself.


Photo by Ivana Vasilj, Creative Commons