understanding people's motives

By M.Farouk Radwan, MSc.

Understanding people's motives

When people find themselves unable to understand others they quickly label them, judge them and form false ideas about them.

Its so common for a person who don't understand another person to call the later a difficult person just because he never managed to understand him.

The main reason people confuse the intentions of others and fail to understand them well is that each person interprets the behavior of others based on his own perception of the event which might be completely wrong.

For example, a person who lacks self confidence will always be extra sensitive to any sign that shows that others don't like him even if that sign was imagined. Its not uncommon for a person who lacks self confidence to interpret a body language gesture incorrectly just to prove to himself that others don't like him. (see How perception affects the behaviour).

So how can you understand people's motives? before i can tell you how to do this let me first give you few examples of some people we usually get incorrectly.

What's the motive behind their actions?

  • The showy person: Most people hate those who show off to the extent that they avoid them but do you know that people who show off only do this in front of the ones they care about the most? Yes a showy person will only show off in front of you if he cares about your acceptance. See how can understanding the motive behind an action made you see the situation in a different light?
  • The cold person: We all dislike people who don't greet us with a smile or who act as if they are not interested in us but do you know that most of those people do so because they are afraid not to be accepted by you? If someone is afraid to be rejected then he might prevent himself from being nice not to show that he cares about your acceptance! Again that's another situation where understanding someone's motives can let you interpret his behaviour in a different way (see also Tips to improve your communication skills and The right way to approach a girl or a guy)
  • Arrogant people: Most people dislike arrogant ones and they don't like their company but do you know that arrogant people are the ones who feel insecure and who use arrogance as a shield to hide their insecurities? Again When you see the intentions behind their behavior it might then become acceptable to a great extent!

Steps for Understanding people's motives

So how can you understand the real motives behind people's actions?
Here is what you need to do:

  • Fix your own personal flaws If you lack self confidence then instead of realizing that an arrogant person feels insecure you might believe that he is being arrogant around you because he considers you worthless! So fixing your personal flaws is the first step to seeing things correctly and to understanding people's real motives.
  • Read about psychology: Without enough knowledge about psychology you will interpret each event based on your current knowledge database which might not be large enough to help you understand the motive of everyone you meet

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