0127E: Reading People

Over the years, I've come to accept that I'm a fairly decent judge of character or perhaps people in general. I'm not claiming that I'm a master of this particular skill, but I do recognize that I seem to have an above average success rate in terms of sizing up people, assessing their personal situation or just coming up with a general analysis of their personality, disposition, strength of character and work-related skills.

I can't quite trace when I started to develop my skills in this area, but I know that it was more or less when I was in high school that I started to really put such skills into use. The results surprised even me, I have to admit, and that just gave me a bit more confidence in practicing, although I made sure that any inferences or conclusions I came up with were taken in with a fair amount of salt.

I really, really proved to myself that I wasn't just pulling guesses out of thin air when I handled a few training classes in the US a few years ago. After my first week with a particular class, I started to give quick feedback to the various learners (most of whom were significantly older than me) and it seemed my personal assessment of them were fairly accurate - and they were impressed. Heck, it had started as just telling one person what I felt his challenges were and that led to all of them wanting to hear similar feedback. It was definitely an interesting moment in my professional career, to say the least.

And while for the most part I try to focus on more objective and logical ways of evaluating situations, I have learned to trust my instincts when it comes to people. And given enough time for observation and study (and these days a bit of internet sleuthing), I know that I'll eventually reach a point where I'll have enough data to make a truly accurate assessment of a person. From there I decide how I'll continue to deal with them whether professionally or on a more personal level. It's one of the quirkier aspects of my personality - logical in most things but still open to the random flares of insight from gut feelings, instincts and the like. Based on experience, I've come to trust that my instincts are still based on some sort of conclusion derived from observation and experience, even if I can't figure out a logical reason why. And thus it's not totally illogical or unsubstantiated.

I'm thinking about all this today since I reached another of those points when my initial gut instincts about a person turned out to be very well substantiated. But what surprised me this time around is that the results were well beyond even my assessment range - and that's a good thing. And the whole thing has me feeling pretty happy - not because I was right, but more because we have a new friend who is definitely worth the time and effort.  And that's a good thing indeed.

It's nice when life surprises you that way and it certainly helps restore one's faith in humanity (as sweeping as that statement may be). And while I remain generally cautious and careful in my dealings with new people, at least I know that there's still a good chance that people will continue to rise above and prove themselves to be better than what we expect.

And that's something we should all aspire for.