Reading People Well

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My dad, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in private practice for over forty years, advised me to never reveal at a  party you are a mental health clinician. In social settings after “coming out”  he experienced others gracefully slithering away and sometimes overtly scattering out of fear of being “analyzed”.

In my two decades of practice as a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist, stigma about mental health and paranoia about the x-ray vision of mental health providers has subsided. I never went into social events with a diagnostic frame of mind, looking to intervene for the greater good on unsuspecting subjects.  But there are professional hazards of our training that may appear clairvoyant to those outside of the club. This superpower can unnerve those with something to hide.   

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Developing your “Reading People” Competitive Advantage

Now as a Christian entrepreneur consultant I see my observational skills and insights in the way people interact as a significant competitive advantage for me and my clients. Effective business, sales, and marketing strategies find their roots in psychology. And attracting and repelling the right and wrong people as team members, customers, associates, and business partners can make or break the success of your enterprise.

So, here are some layman’s tips on “reading people well” to give you the edge in your biz and life:

  1. Pay Attention to Non-Verbals. – Verbal communication constitutes 7 % of the message with the remaining 93% as non-verbal communication.  If you are exclusively listening to the words or looking at the written page, you are vastly missing the complete message. Appropriate eye contact rather than penetrating stares or distracted looking around gives insight into the present emotional state of the person you are with. Maintaining or not maintaining culturally acceptable physical space or leaning in or moving backward sends important clues to the level of engagement the person wants to have with you.  Noticing body language; physical positioning; what is not said as much as what is said; punctuality or lack thereof; and overall presentation added to what is actually verbalized gives you a truer picture of the message and possible characteristics of the person sending that message.
  2. Look at the context. – Being approached in a romantic way if you are at a nightclub on a Friday night sighting at a bar having a beer is one thing.  But receiving a  subtle comment with possible sexual innuendos or nuances from your boss as you are leaving a closed-door business meeting after 5 pm when the office is almost cleared out leaves a different impression. Many admire professionals who follow up multiple times regularly spaced out when other business people don’t respond to agreed-upon actions. But in a personal context when someone texts, messages, or calls, after you clearly or even more subtly indicate you are not interested, creeps people out.  Critical thinking about whether the behavior and words do or do not fit the situation helps you determine authenticity and get a better picture of possible motives.
  3. Notice how your body feels. – Your head lies to you, but your body never does. You may want a relationship to work out so that you ignore those gut feelings. How many business owners made that hire because they needed the position filled, but had a nagging feeling that came back to haunt them in how the working relationship played out?  When your body feels calm, relaxed, and peaceful, it may be an indication you are dealing with an honest, safe, congruent, respectful, person you would like to attract into your life or business.  When your body experiences the opposite, it’s a good signal to go slow or even walk away right away.


You get to the next level in your business in life not so much because of the “what’s” in your life, but rather the “who’s” in your life. Truly successful people surround themselves with supportive, high quality, healthy individuals. God never intended us to succeed alone. He strives to provide us with opportunities to learn healthy interdependence and interactions.

Christian Entrepreneurs Biz and Life Tips: Make a list of the people you have contact with on a regular basis in your business and personal life. Rank them based on the criteria I’ve listed above. Ask yourself if these people consist of the foundation that will lead you to your vision.

And if you could use some help clarifying that vision, I invite you to do one of my Manifesting Your Vision sessions by going to

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