Reading People: secret tips that reveal the truth behind body language – Jo-Ellen Dimitrius & Mark Mazzarella

The main author of this book, Jo-Ellen Dimitrius, has a job that absolutely fascinates me. Her role is to find the right people to be jurors for major trials in USA.  An example she often quotes is finding people for the OJ Simpson trial.

The premise of the book is that if you can “read” people effectively you can work out whether they are being truthful, what their beliefs are and how they are likely to react to certain events and situations.  Also, if you are reading other people you consider how they might also be reading you.

The book goes through a process, chapter by chapter giving ideas on how to build ones ability to read other people.  The chapter headings give a good idea of what to expect: Reading Readiness, Discovering Patterns, First Impressions, Scanning the Environment, Hearing More Than Words, ASking the Right Questions, Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Spotting Exceptions, Listening to Your Intuition, Understanding How Others Are Reading You and Making Snap Judgements.

I don’t think there is anything particularly new in this book that I haven’t come across in the past reading books by Alan and Barbara Pease for example.  It was a useful reminder of everything I’ve been taught about body language, mainly to look at groupings, context and consistency.

I also really enjoyed the stories and anecdotes the authors used to illustrate the points they were making.  They brought the ideas to life and helped to make sense of what I was reading.

The downside of the book is that it was published in 1998 and some of the ideas stated reflect out of date fashions, ideas and behaviours.  Whilst I think the basic tenets of this book remain true our digital 21st century has changed the way the react to people and events and we have other ways of finding out about people as well as by reading them.  Some of the Americanisms are also a bit annoying to a British reader.

I’d recommend the book as readable and interesting if you are interested in improving your communication skills.  It isn’t “un-put-down-able” but I did look forward to my morning read on the train.

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