3 Reasons you always fail to understand people

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Failing to understand people

Why do some people act in a strange way?
Why did your friend do that thing he did?
Why is someone you know acting weird?

I am pretty sure you asked yourself those questions before and i am also sure you never got final answers in many cases. Each and everyday we see people acting in strange ways and without proper knowledge we would easily get lost and fail to understand those people's intentions.

When you fail to understand people not only will you get puzzled by their behavior but you will very likely respond in a wrong way to their actions.

So the most important question you should ask yourself is: why do you get people wrong most of the time?

Reasons you always fail to understand people

There are few important facts you need to know about humans if you want to understand their behavior.

  • 1) 1 + 1 does not equal 2: The biggest mistake people do when they try to understand others is that they assume that all people do the same things for the same reasons. For example assuming that all people who drive convertibles are showy is a fatal mistake. The truth is that so many people can do the exact same thing for totally different reasons.
  • 2) The same behavior can be done for totally opposite reasons: A man who has doubts about his masculinity might hate to wear pink because it can show a feminine side and in the same time a man who believes that he is too macho might wear pink to show off the fact that even a feminine color can't make him appear less manly. (see also Why do some men hate to wear pink)
  • 3) Behind every behavior is an intention: People don't act out randomly but they move according to a plan and a set of goals. Sometimes this fact becomes hard to detect because many of those goals are unconscious ones. In other words a person can do a certain action just because he felt like doing it without actually understanding that he did it because his subconscious mind wanted to achieve a certain goal. For example a woman might smoke cigarettes because she unconsciously wants to rebel against the female stereotype imposed on her by the society.

Now what most people do is that they assume that all humans have the same exact goals and that's why they usually fail to understand them.

How to understand people perfectly

You won't be able to understand a person except after you collect more information about him and the reason is simple. Each behavior can be done for so many reason, and even opposite reasons as you saw, but once more than one action seem to be serving the same purpose you can quickly come up with a conclusion about that person you are trying to understand.

In the Super powers course i said that taking a snapshot of someone's behavior is the fastest way to getting people wrong.

The right thing to do is to make an assumption based on a certain behavior while putting in mind that you might be totally wrong. When you see another behaviour that confirms the same action you can conclude that you are getting close.

Now when more than 2 actions point to the same conclusion then you can make sure that you are right. A woman who smokes, plays guy's sports & acts tough is certainly combating the weak female stereotype. That woman might hate the idea of getting married because giving birth would be a direct reminder of her female identity.

She might hate wearing pink, putting makeup or even dating a man.
But wait. I just made one of three mistakes i talked about earlier.

Yes this Woman is rebelling against the weak female stereotype but i still don't know what the reason is.
could it be that her father made her think that males are better than females?
Was her mother very weak that she hated to be like her?
Did her society describe females as weak or fragile?

The only way to find that out is to investigate further.

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