Posted by: Daisy | April 13, 2008

Understanding People

QuestionableMe suggested that trying to ’figure people out’ would be impossible. QM suggests that the failure is due to assumptions based on logic and rational thought. I believe the underlying question isn’t about whether you can predict someone, but whether you can (or should try to) understand them. I like where QM went in the summary of why you might want to ‘figure out’ people and I’ll suggest another question.

What does it mean to understand someone?

Let’s take a typical example of meeting someone brand new for the first time. You begin by talking about things like the weather, and then basic vital stats – where you went to school, what you took, where you work, what you do, your favourite music, books, movies, your family stats, etc etc. They are in some ways meaningless – you can find 2 individuals who have exactly the same vital stats and find that you have nothing in common. I believe as you’re sharing this information in the beginning, what is not said, reveals the more interesting information. You begin to guess that this person is very intense or very easy-going. You begin to hear and think about their ethics and motivations. You make judgements on whether this person is ‘interesting’ to you or not.

Taking the time to get to know someone is a compliment: “I like what I see and hear and I want to know more.” Understanding someone isn’t necessarily about being able to predict their behaviour – not even the individual can always do that because humans make decisions and behave based on logical and emotional responses. Just because we can not always predict ones’ behaviour doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to understand them.

In that understanding of others, we learn about ourselves. Ultimately, isn’t it understanding yourself, your goals and dreams what really drives your ultimate happiness in life?

Get to know someone better and you may find you got to know yourself better.

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Responses

  1. How do you know if you really understand someone or not? People can be tricky and often hide or mask certain feelings or aspects of their personality. So I would argue that it’s impossible to fully understand someone; heck, some people don’t even understand themselves sometimes. But that’s no reason not to try.

    Agreed. Some people you’ll never understand, however, I guess it’s just fun (for me) to go through the process of getting to know people. – Daisy


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