Published on:

18th Mar 2022

The Problem Of Objectivity

Finally, we become great people-readers when we understand ourselves. We need to know what biases, expectations, values, and unconscious drives we bring to the table so we are able to see things as neutrally and objectively as possible. We must refrain from letting pessimism cloud our judgments because its often easier to arrive at the more negative conclusion when an alternate, more positive one is equally likely. To gain better insight into the progress you make as you read through this book, you need to know your proficiency at analyzing people as you start out. Simon Baron Cohen has come up with a test available on http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/ that’ll help you gauge how good you are at reading people’s emotions right now. It is also a good way to come to the realization that we are perhaps not as good at reading people as we think we are.

Hear it Here - https://bit.ly/readpeopleking

Show notes and/or episode transcripts are available at https://bit.ly/social-skills-shownotes

Learn more or get a free mini-book on conversation tactics at https://bit.ly/pkconsulting

#Cohen #NonverbalCues #SaschaBaronCohen #SimonBaronCohen #SocialIntelligence #TheProblemOfObjectivity #RussellNewton #NewtonMG #PatrickKing #PatrickKingConsulting #SocialSkillsCoaching #HowtoReadPeopleLikeaBook


“Your cousin was really upset when you made that joke about politics last night.”

“Upset? No, he wasn’t upset; he thought it was funny. I remember!”

“No way! He was frowning. I thought he was totally mad at you . . .”

Have you ever been in a conversation with a group of people, only to later find out that different members of the group had a completely different assessment of what happened? Sometimes, people disagree entirely on whether someone was flirting, whether someone was uncomfortable or offended, whether someone was feeling off or being rude. It can feel like you were living in two separate realities!

Some studies show that only about seven percent of our communication comes from actual spoken word, whereas a whopping fifty-five percent of it stems from body language. This means that what people say is often the worst indicator of what they actually want to convey. Even their tone of voice only tells you about thirty-eight percent of the actual story. One can now see why people often leave group conversations with contrasting opinions on what really took place in that interaction—they’re using the wrong factors to arrive at their judgments. To grasp the real, non-verbal conversation or dialogue that someone is engaging in with you, you need to consider both their verbal as well as non-verbal cues.

We’ve already seen that simply claiming you’re a “people person” is not really proof that you are factually any better at reading them. But it turns out there may be a scientific way of actually measuring this quality in people. Simon Baron Cohen (yes, there is a relation to comedian Sascha Baron Cohen—they’re cousins) has devised what he calls a social intelligence test. The test is scored out of thirty-six, with results lower than twenty-two observed in those with autism, and the average score being around twenty-six.

The test essentially asks you to infer other people’s emotions by simply looking at their eyes, i.e., it tests how empathic they are. The person may be smiling, but are they actually feeling really uncomfortable? Knowing how to read other people’s emotions has been linked to overall higher social intelligence, which then links to better cooperation on teams, empathic understanding, and better people-reading skills.

If you’re curious, you can do this test yourself on a desktop computer by following the following link: http://socialintelligence.labinthewild.org/. You’ll be asked to look at pictures showing just people’s eyes and to choose from four emotions to describe what you think the person is feeling. But be prepared to be surprised by your results—or the results of your friends and family.

Of course, this is a test that has flaws and limitations like any other test of this kind. If you’re a social genius but have poor vocabulary or are not culturally Western or an English speaker, for example, your results should be interpreted with caution. This test shows you how good you may be at reading people’s emotions from very little information—i.e., from nothing more than a single glance at their eyes.

But this is only a small piece of the puzzle. What this test tells us is that we do not all possess the same range of social skills, and perhaps that we may be less adept than we first thought. This in turn shows us that it’s not always enough to go on hunches or intuition—you may easily make the wrong assessments of people.

When dealing with things like the murky, hidden inner depths of other people’s hearts and minds, we need to make efforts to remain as objective as possible. We cannot always trust our first impulse. If you did the test above and scored only twenty-six out of thirty-six, then you could reasonably conclude that ten out of every thirty-six encounters would have you incorrectly interpreting someone’s facial expression.

If that’s the case, what else are you missing?

On the other hand, the look in someone’s eyes is just a tiny portion of the information you have to work with in any social situation. You have their posture and body language, what they say (and what they don’t say!), their tone of voice, their attitude, the context in which you are both having a conversation . . .

If you didn’t score very high on the test, don’t worry, it doesn’t mean that you’re autistic or completely socially unaware. In real life, we encounter much more in a passing moment than just a single frame image of someone’s eyes alone. You may actually be better at piecing together this and all the other information at your disposal than you think.

What you might like to try, however, is to deliberately work to improve your people reading skills in the ways discussed in this book, and come back a month or two later to re-take the test. You may discover something fascinating—that our empathic and social skills are not fixed but can be developed and improved upon. Once you’ve got your baseline for your own people-reading skills, we’re ready to move on to the theories and models that will help you refine your skills to Sherlock levels.

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About the Podcast

Social Skills Coaching
Become More Likable, Productive, and Charismatic
While everyone wants to make themselves and their lives better, it has been hard to find specific, actionable steps to accomplish that. Until now...

Patrick King is a Social Interaction Specialist, in other words, a dating, online dating, image, and communication, and social skills coach based in San Francisco, California. He’s also a #1 Amazon best-selling dating and relationships author with the most popular online dating book on the market and writes frequently on dating, love, sex, and relationships.

He focuses on using his emotional intelligence and understanding of human interaction to break down emotional barriers, instill confidence, and equip people with the tools they need for success. No pickup artistry and no gimmicks, simply a thorough mastery of human psychology delivered with a dose of real talk.

About your host

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Russell Newton