People are like books

I read people.  All but the most ineffable seem transparent to me, laid out before me like a book to be read.  This comes to me naturally.  I readily admit to being a student of the human condition, forever interested in understanding why people do what they do when they do it.  I will be the first to admit that this is both a gift and a curse.  With a predisposition toward understanding people and a continued interest in doing so, I have become progressively better in successfully wielding this skill.

It's easy, for me anyway. The more I deal with someone, the more that individual becomes transparent to me.  There are times — more often than I care to admit — when this information becomes quite specific.  And I mean extremely specific.  I tend to keep those insights to myself.

Meeting someone in person is like having their entire history displayed in front of my eyes.  I begin to understand with relative ease what they are like, who they are, generalizations about their history and experiences, and insights into their personality and philosophy.  But I don't have to be introduced to someone in the flesh to be provided with such insights.

For example, I once managed the technical support group for a major entertainment company.  This was approximately 14 years ago.  An employee from another division wanted to transfer into my team.  I, of course, wanted to perform a phone interview before that happened.

During that phone interview, a large portion of my staff was present.  This is normal for me.  I always want my employees involved in such decisions; they're a team, and they deserve to have their opinions heard when modifying that team.

So, in the course of this phone interview (one the new employee passed with excellence), I developed a "feel" for the person on the other end of the phone.  Once the interview was over and I gave him a start date and some other minor instructions, I hung up the phone and discussed the call with my existing employees.  Of course, as people are apt to do, they asked things like "what is he like?" and "what impressions do you have of him?"  I was all too ready to answer.  Keep in mind that my conversation with him lasted no more than 10 minutes and did not cover anything outside of his current job, the job he wanted to move into on my team, and his work experience.

Based on that one phone conversation, I told them the following: "He's from East Texas, a country boy with manners who has adapted to the civilized requirements of the big city.  He drives a small pickup truck, probably red, old, and beat-up.  He's good looking while rough around the edges, probably not clean-shaven, but likewise not reprehensible.  He's a good worker with a good work ethic.  He probably has dark hair, and he likes beer instead of mixed drinks or wine."  I went on with a few less specific remarks and a lot of job-specific information that is not relevant here.

You think I jest.  You think it is simply impossible to know that kind of information about someone from a simple phone call.  I wish I could agree with you.

When he showed up a few days later for his first day of work for me, part of that was confirmed (what he looked like, what he drove, and other physically demonstrable attributes I described).  Over the course of the following two weeks, everything else was confirmed to be true.

It's important — very important — to know that this is an exception, not the rule.  One phone conversation normally does not provide me with that level of detail, though it does happen from time to time.  More conversations, however, by phone or otherwise, will continually add to my impressions and interpretations.  Meeting someone face to face is even better; body language, looks, health, level of grooming, fashion, aura, projected persona, and a great many other factors come into play under those circumstances.  Each of them augments the interpretation I craft for every individual.

Please do not take this as some bizarre attempt to claim extrasensory perception.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  It takes no level of ESP to gleam an understanding of humans in general.  Once a general understanding is gained, specific extrapolations become easier, especially as time progresses.  The more human contact I have, the more refined this ability becomes.

I know it is part science and part intuition.  It is one thing to "get a feeling" about someone based on a lifetime of experiences, extrapolating from generalizations to specifics based on history, exposure, experience and emotions.  It is something completely different to understand that eye movement indicates brain activity, and that knowing what side of the brain provides what functions will help interpret eye movement and its possible meaning.  Summarizing input from both the scientific and intuitive aspects of each person requires a frame of reference, and that is provided only by familiarity and understanding, both of which are empowered by exposure and confirmation.

Do not waste my time with tests and other arbitrary tediousness.  If you do not know me personally, this may never be directly proven to you.  That is not to say it cannot be.  If you know me personally, this has either already been proven to you directly or you suspect it already.

I do not post this to claim some gift.  I wrote this because it was on my mind.  I wrote this because more than a handful of situations of late seem to require some level of explanation.

Not for me — for others.

3 thoughts on “People are like books”

  1. That’s rather like the skills of Sherlock Holmes. A talent for observation honed like the edge of a fine blade. So who is your Watson?

    You know, this means you can never meet me. I’d hate to #1 have you figure out ALL my secrets or #2 Make your brain implode trying to comprehend the mysteries of being marniac

  2. I’m not sure I have a Watson. I just like observing people. It’s a game I play — challenging myself to see how much I can understand about someone.

    And I laughed my ass off at the head implosion thing. I could never fully understand the mysteries of being marniac!

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