Is the same temperament that kills other moods

Knowledge of human nature: How can I assess others better?

Bosses need to have a good understanding of people, after all, they have to lead a team. But how do you know whether your own assessments of others are also correct?

Content: This is what awaits you in this article

What is knowledge of human nature?

Knowledge of human nature - this is the name given to the ability to be able to assess others quickly, to empathize with others and to recognize how the other person is doing and what they are up to. Experts say: If you can quickly assess what problems, worries, wishes, but also character traits the other person has, you can deal with any situation more easily - because you can sit in the other person's chair, understand and react accordingly. A person who knows people can also quickly see whether the performance of his counterpart is "real" or whether he is just putting on a show.

Those who have a good knowledge of human nature are therefore at an advantage in many situations:

  • He can negotiate better because he knows the motives of his counterpart and can anticipate his behavior
  • He can avoid conflicts and find compromises because he is good at assessing the sensitivities of others.
  • He is less likely to be betrayed or disappointed because he can judge the character of his fellow men more accurately than others.

Knowledge of human nature is particularly important for people who have to lead others. “I also got to know bosses who were successful without any knowledge of human nature, mostly narcissistic power people who were not interested in others,” says social pedagogue and body language expert Tatjana Strobel. “Long-term, better relationships with customers and employees are achieved by those entrepreneurs who are empathetic. Knowledge of human nature as a soft skill is becoming more and more important - also because good employees are more difficult to find and keep. It helps enormously when a boss can assess and value his staff. "

Test: Do I have a good knowledge of human nature?

But we often overestimate our own understanding of human nature. We believe that we can assess others quickly - and yet we are wrong. Often we don't even notice it. The reason is a perception error: the so-called confirmation error (read also: Thinking errors: How our brain falls into traps).

The phenomenon has been well researched in psychology: we prefer to perceive only that which is comfortable for us, which agrees with our convictions and our worldview. We consciously or subconsciously hide what does not fit into the picture - regardless of whether it makes sense or not. The consequence: We find someone trustworthy at first glance, for example, and then hide everything that contradicts this assessment. As a result, we do not notice that our assessment is incorrect. Nor do we notice that our knowledge of human nature is not as good as we assume.

So how do we find out how good our knowledge of human nature actually is?

A good test: at family get-togethers or the regulars' table with friends, take a close look at people, draw conclusions about how they are doing, what concerns them - and then ask to see to what extent your own assessment is correct. A positive side effect: Such conversations help to deepen the relationship with one another - simply because we so rarely have them.

There are also numerous tests that show how well your own knowledge of human nature is. Expert Strobel has also developed such a test: To the test: Are you a connoisseur of people?

Is human knowledge innate?

Knowledge of human nature is based on the mirror neurons in the brain: They can and must be trained. This usually happens through contact with our parents: As children, we observe what they do, how they behave in certain situations - and what their face and body language express in the process. In this way we learn to understand people like a language: gestures, facial expressions and the pitch of the voice form a kind of vocabulary which, when combined, form a sentence with a specific message.

“The exciting thing is that people whose parents took a lot of time for them and played a lot with them have the greatest knowledge of human nature. And those whose parents did exactly the opposite and were very arbitrary in their behavior: In families like this, it is practically vital for children to use nuances to recognize what mood is currently prevailing, ”says Tatjana Strobel.

How can I train my knowledge of people?

Make observing your fellow human beings a daily routine.

There are countless occasions: while jogging in the park you can watch the game between parents and children, while watching a talk show you can analyze how conversation partners react when they are interrupted, at the train station it makes sense to see who looks how when he waits - and how he reacts when the expected shows up.

Analyze the behavior of others.

“Always ask yourself: How do people react with their body language to the situation in which they are currently stuck? What do their faces look like? And how do you feel right now? ”Advises Strobel. Those who practice every day soon assess their counterparts faster and better in everyday life - and can act more confidently in every situation.

Do you know yourself.

In order to be able to assess others, one also needs knowledge of one's own personality. Do you become aware: What are my values? What are my weaknesses and strengths? What am i dreaming of What are my goals? How far would I go to meet these goals? How do I appear to others? Those who do not know and assess themselves correctly will also be wrong with others.

Are you familiar with typical errors of perception.

It is not just the aforementioned confirmation error that leads us to misjudge others. There are several other psychological pitfalls one can fall into. The halo effect, for example, has been well researched. It says that we infer an unknown property from the known property of a person - although there is no connection at all. For example, we meet another person and find them sympathetic. We conclude that he is also loyal and honest - although there is not a single reference to the latter. Or: a colleague always has a neat desk. We conclude: He's definitely working in a structured manner and is very reliable.

If I have a good knowledge of people - is it impossible to be mistaken about someone?

Unfortunately, no. If we are on friendly terms with someone or if we even love them, we often push away our gut instincts - even when it screams out loud that something is wrong with a person. This can quickly become a problem, especially in family businesses or start-ups. “We then deceive ourselves in order to prevent the positive image of the other from being scratched by the flaws that we have discovered,” says Strobel.

Here it helps to try to consciously separate the private and the professional: In this way, the emotional level disappears from an observation - and one's own knowledge of human nature has a chance again.

Which difficult types can I recognize more quickly thanks to a good knowledge of people - and how can I meet them?

You can find out in our article: "Difficult customers and business partners: 3 problematic types of people and how to tame them".

Where can I find out more about human knowledge?

In her book "I know how you feel" (Goldmann, 12.99 euros) describes Tatjana Strobel entertainingly and comprehensively what knowledge of human nature means and how everyone can learn to better interpret body language signals - not only at work.

More book tips:

  • Joe Navarro: “People read. An FBI agent explains how to decipher body language " (mvg, 16.95 euros). Extensive yet concrete introduction. The ideal book to go to the café and practice on site - thanks to many pictures that illustrate exactly what others express through body language and how.
  • Martin Betschart: “I know what makes you tick. How to see through people " (German TV, 9.90 euros). Doer type, intellectual type, mind type: using case studies from his coaching practice, manager-trainer Betschart explains which people we usually meet at work and in private, how you can recognize them - and how you can best meet them in order to use their skills and talents .

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Tatjana Strobel founded her coaching company in 2008, gives seminars, gives lectures and trains executives in international companies. She wrote the book "I Know How You Feel".