Understanding The Behaviour Of Others

I love human behaviour, I think it’s incredibly fascinating and full of twists and turns. You can learn so much about yourself and life just by taking the time to learn about others. It also helps in building deep connections with the people around you and help develop your empathy skills. In this post I’ll be explaining how to understand people, and learn to take a minute before jumping to conclusions and making assumptions.

This obviously isn’t professional rather just observations and research I’ve done in the area.

The basics

There are 3 aspects that we look at to understand behaviour: the cause, the laws and category.

An example of this is: gambling. The thrill of winning money is the cause. The law is in the human nature of thrill seeking and attaining money. You can categorise the different types of risk taking behaviour or the amount of risk taking someone does.

In other words, there’s a reason, motivation and variables involved.

A common example of this is: bullying. The reason may be that their life isn’t how they want it to be or that maybe they’re being bullied themselves. The motivation is to feel power and control over someone else. The human nature or variables involved in this process is how they were raised, their emotional intelligence, their life experiences and so on.

Think about something that maybe you’ve done or something that someone else has done and use these 3 parts to examine the situation.

You’ll also notice that your thinking happens in the same pattern. There’s a reason to your thought, you’re motivated by something and it effects you in a certain way either through human nature or life experience.

Assumptions and conclusions

These occur from preconceived thoughts you have regarding someone and miscommunication. Preconceived thoughts are a huge problem, you usually crate these from rumours, first impressions, personal delusions, projection and so on. These thoughts inflict our perspective of people and their motivations, you could be right or you could be wrong.

If your preconceived thoughts are negative about someone, of course you’ll find ways to misconstrue their behaviour as being directed or against you. You then begin to assume that something they do is about you and that they aren’t a good person. Chances are, you’d be wrong. In my experience the people I’ve had positive thoughts for turned into some of the worst people I’ve let into my life and the negatives turned into some of the best friendships I’ve had.

An example of this: you meet someone for the first time and decide from the first experience to not like them. From there, you look at their behaviour for any signs of negative behaviour towards you so you have an excuse to dislike them or even come after them. You use your thoughts as a justification for a false idea you have.

Miscommunication is an interesting one. The way you see someone’s behaviour could be completely different from how someone else sees it, and can be completely different to the actual behaviours intention. It’s pretty common to misinterpret someone, the best way to avoid this is to flat out ask the person if you don’t know, or get to know them on a deep level to understand why they do the things that they do.

An example of this: you’re at a family gathering and notice someone is on their phone and not interacting. You see this as them being rude, or that they must be ignoring you and hate you, or maybe that they’re stuck up and they think they’re too good to hang out with you. In reality they may be anxious, or they’re messaging someone who needs help or maybe they’re just having a bad day and want their own space.

Assessing what someone is doing

This is the fun part ….. sort of ….. of rationalising someone else’s behaviour towards you or others. This largely plays on your own behaviour too. You may not have done anything wrong to illicit the behaviour but if you think back prior to the change in behaviour in someone, they may have misinterpreted something you’ve done. That doesn’t justify any change in their behaviour towards you.

To make it easier, here’s a step by step guide.

  1. Look at their body language and speech in their behaviour. If you know them well enough, think about what could be going on in their life to suggest a change.
  2. Examine your own behaviour, is there a way someone could misconstrue it or take it the wrong way.
  3. Try and find a cause, a motivation and reasons why this might be happening.
  4. Have they had this change in behaviour before? What we’re past reasons? Do they have a history of running hot and cold with people? Do they act differently around other people too?
  5. Find a solution. You don’t need to tell anyone or the person. You could find a solution for how they could change their situation, help them, your own behaviour, anything. The golden rule is finding a minimum of 3 solutions.

It’s always worth mind mapping this to, if it involves someone that means a lot to you. It also help in letting go and not holding grudges against people.

I cannot stress this enough

You are not responsible for someone else’s negative behaviour. You are not responsible in how someone reacts to your own behaviour. You do however need to be self aware and understanding of your own behaviour. You can’t purposely treat people according to your mood. Treat people exactly how you want to be treated and give people the understanding that you want. It’s not very difficult.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, if you think the person is approachable. Maybe someone’s going through something, maybe someone just feels lonely, maybe they have a habit of isolating themselves away from friends. Always ask questions and never assume. Assumptions and conclusions can be dangerous.


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