It's human nature to form quick opinions based on nonverbal communication, particularly when meeting someone for the first time. Reading people accurately is an important skill for leaders because it can help you understand a person's feelings, likes, and dislikes, as well as a variety of personality traits. Continue reading for Coach K's advice on how to read people.
What Does It Mean to Read Someone?
Reading others means analyzing verbal and nonverbal cues to judge their character, behavior, thoughts, or feelings. The observations you make while interacting with someone help you determine the type of person they are.
Reading another person frequently manifests as a gut feeling. Perhaps the person you're speaking with exudes confidence or suffers from low self-esteem. They may appear to be either an introvert or an extrovert. To effectively read someone, you must pay close attention to their body language, which includes posture, eye contact, physical movements, and facial expressions.
A person's expression can reveal a lot about how they are feeling. For example, studies show that a person's smile when experiencing an authentic positive emotion uses more facial muscles than if they are faking it. Body language cues can also reveal information about a person. Liars, for example, are more likely to fidget than those who tell the truth.
When reading people, one must be aware of one's own biases. First impressions can help us navigate them, but they rarely tell the whole story. Read someone's body language when you first meet them to establish a baseline for their behavior patterns. An anxious person, for example, may be more prone to fidgeting, but this does not necessarily imply that they are dishonest.
3 Tips From Coach K on Reading People
Coach K believes that reading people extends beyond first impressions. "What I try to do is learn more about people," he explains. "That is extremely important to me in order to be a good leader." Coach K offers some advice on how to read your team:
1. Read body language. "I'm always looking at body language," Coach K says. "Every game is taped, but I also tape my bench." Coach K looks for players who lack enthusiasm when the team makes a big play and seeks the opportunity to address any issues the player may not have expressed verbally.
2. Know your audience. "You can show respect to your team by meeting them where they are," Coach K says. Pay close attention to your team's body language, clothing, and tone of voice in addition to what they say. Then, in your actions, reflect these qualities. "Do something to let them know [you're] in their world," he says.
3. Seek understanding. When relaying a message to someone on a basketball court or in the office, watch people closely to ensure they've understood what you said. Micro-expressions indicate whether or not they received your message. For example, if someone nods but their face is puzzled, find another way to reinforce your message. "It's up to you to get the message across," Coach K says.