Seven clever tricks to help you understand people better

Unobvious ideas, the effectiveness of which has been proven by scientists.

We are not talking about some secret techniques of special services, not about body language, NLP, or anything like that. To better read the motives and moods of others, you need to develop empathy. Find out what activities are conducive to this. But first, subscribe to our Telegram channel. We often publish such valuable articles!

1. Read fiction

American scientists David Comer Kidd and Emanuel Castano experimented. Its participants had to read a text fragment for a few minutes prepared in advance. The first group had classical literature or modern high prose, the second group had fiction, and the third group had non-fiction. The control group read nothing. After that, all subjects were given a test determining how capable they were of empathizing with other people. It turned out that the highest rates were those who read fiction, especially classics and high prose.

Writing instructor Albert Wendland believes this can be explained very simply. When we immerse ourselves in a work of fiction, we put ourselves in the hero's place and let his thoughts and experiences pass through us. That means we learn to understand and accept other people's emotions. Reading the classics, we encounter more lively, complex, and multifaceted characters, which is why it works best as an empathy trainer.

2. Meditate

Meditation not only relieves stress but also helps develop compassion and empathy. Researchers from Emory University (USA) conducted a small experiment. The participants spent eight weeks exercising and meditating on a specially designed program. Then they were asked to count the emotions of people from photographs. More than half of them improved.

There is an opinion that meditation blurs the boundaries between "me" and "them." Especially when it comes to loving-kindness meditation, during which one tunes into other people and sincerely tries to wish them happiness and well-being. Read The technology of happiness: yesterday, today, tomorrow.

3. Watching soap operas

Yes, now you can say that you're not just having fun, settling in front of the screen on a Friday night, and developing empathy. At least, the University of Oklahoma experts have found that television dramas are very conducive to that. Participants in the experiment who watched soap operas read emotions in pictures better than those who were shown documentaries or nothing.

Good acting, a well-crafted script, and quality camerawork all train our brains to interpret different facial expressions, intonations, and gestures.

4. Sing in a choir

Or create a group because practicing music together increases empathy. Researchers from Cambridge have been convinced of this. They gathered 52 children 8-11 years old and divided the young participants in the experiment into two groups — the first involved in various musical games and tasks. The second also conducted educational activities, but without music. As a result, children from the first group coped much better with tests to determine emotional intelligence.

By the way, the same applies to acting. After all, it is a way to try on the feelings, behavior, facial expressions, plasticity, and way of thinking of another person.

5. Meet new people

Swiss scientists believe that it also helps to pump up empathy. Especially if the communication experience has been positive, it's worth talking to strangers more often, such as at hobby clubs, trips, parties, and professional conferences.

6. Observe others

Look at their faces. Listen carefully to how people talk. Try to analyze their facial expressions, gestures, and intonations. If you are observing someone close to you, you can determine your guesses.

7. Keep a diary

Identifying other people's emotions is hard if you're confused about your own. That's why it's logical to begin empathy training with self-awareness. It is a large-scale and profound work that sometimes you can't do without the help of a psychotherapist. But some things can also be done independently. For example, keep a diary in which you will describe how you feel and analyze your reactions and moods.

Such self-discovery ultimately helps not only to vent negative feelings and cope with stress but also to learn to interact better with others and develop leadership skills.

Find out your level of empathy right now. Take the Menteora career guidance test; artificial intelligence will name your most suitable professions. The accuracy of the test is 70-80% because we use a mathematical-statistical algorithm (read about Menteora's unique career guidance methodology).