Reading People

Your business depends on how well you can read other people. When you can read other people, you can influence, inspire and motivate them. Reading people is the single-most-important skill in business – period. In other words, your ability to read people means the difference between success and failure in sales, marketing, hiring, mentoring and leading.

Can you read people and understand how they think and why they act the way they do? If not – chances are your results will be limited. Put another way – when you learn to read people AND use that knowledge, your results will improve dramatically.

About People has devoted many years to learning and exploring how to read people. We’ve written extensively on the topic, explaining the specific skills and giving examples of how to use them. If you want to learn about reading people, just read our blogs, articles and our book Face Values. Then, when you want to learn HOW to put that knowledge into action, contact us:

9 things people decide within seconds of meeting you

More great research on first impressions and subconscious judgments we make within minutes, sometimes seconds of meeting people.  Check out this article by Drake Baer in Business Insider.  Here’s a partial list of things people decide:

  1. If you’re trustworthy
  2. If you’re high status
  3. If you’re straight or gay
  4. If you’re smart
  5. If you’re promiscuous
  6. ……

Click here to read the full article:

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    What’s your FWH (Facial width-to-height ratio) and why does it matter?

    We know that taller people seem to make more money and have more career options. The same is true for more attractive people. New research suggests FWH or facial width-to-height ratio is also a good predictor of success.  In a paper published in the British Jour

    nal of Psychology, researchers Shuaa Alrajih and Jamie Ward found that CEOs have greater than average facial width-to-height ratios compared to similar sex and age faces in the general population. The abstract:

    The relative proportion of the internal features of a face (the facial width-to-height ratio, FWH) has been shown to be related to individual differences in behavior in males, specifically competitiveness and aggressiveness. In this study, we show that the Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of the leading UK businesses have greater FWHs than age- and sex-matched controls. We demonstrate that perceivers, naive as to the nature of the stimuli, rate the faces of CEOs as higher in dominance or success, and that ratings of dominance or success are themselves correlated with the FWH ratio. We find no association with other inferred traits such as trustworthiness, attraction or aggression. The latter is surprising given previous research demonstrating a link between FWH and ratings of aggression. We speculate that the core association may be between FWH and drive for dominance or power, but this can be interpreted as aggression only in particular circumstances (e.g., when the stimuli are comprised of faces of young, as opposed to middle-aged, men).

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      Change your posture, change your life

      Mike and I have written a lot about body language and perception. Check out our book  Axis of Influence for lots of rich intel on this subject.

      While you're at it, check out Harvard Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy. Amy's research on body language reveals that we can change other people’s perceptions — and even our own body chemistry — simply by changing body positions.

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        Are politicians likeable?

        Politics is perhaps the most fascinating arena where likeability plays out.  Which politicians are likeable and what makes them so?  Which politicians are un-likeable and what makes them so?

        One of the stereotypical descriptors of politicans (republican AND democratic) is that they are materialistic.  If that’s true,

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        it might make them less likeable, according to an article in ScienceDaily.

        Researchers discovered that people who invest in material possessions are less happy and less popular among peers.  They also have fewer and less satisfying friendships, according to the study led by University of Colorado at Boulder psychology Professor Leaf Van Boven.

        In one experiment undergraduates who didn't know each other were randomly paired up and assigned to discuss either a material possession or a life experience they had purchased and were happy with. After talking for 15 or 20 minutes they were then asked about their conversation partners by the researchers.

        "What we found was that people who had discussed their material possessions liked their conversation partner less than those who had discussed an experience they had purchased," Van Boven said. "They also were less interested in forming a friendship with them, so there's a real social cost to being associated with material possessions rather than life experiences."

        Read the full article at:


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          Psychological Marketing – the Essential!

          Psychological marketing does not exist without the ability to "read" your existing A-level clients.  How else would you know who you want to

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          reach?  So, the most important element in psychological marketing comes from your ability to read other people.

          In the real world, you can look at their facial lines and make some very accurate deductions about their thinking style and behavior. 

          That little skill set is so simple and easy that it's a no-brainer.  It's the first skill we teach in our coaching, and it's the topic of our most popular book (Face Values). 

          — Mike Lovas

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            How to Spot a Lie

            The key to spotting a lie is to get a "baseline" of the person's normal behavior and conversation style.  Then, you can more easily see deviations from that baseline.  Beyond that simple guideline, there are numerous specifics to watch for.  Then, when you see one of these "tells," you'll know there is at least some discomfort in the other person.  Your job is to determine if it's innocence or deceit.

            One of my favorite columists is Carol Kinsey Goman, who writes a wonderful blog on organization change and leadership.  One of her newest columns is "12 Ways to Spot a Liar at Work."  It's really good!  Here is the link:


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              What Is the Face of Trust?

              Pam's favorite researcher Alexander Todorov in conjunction with fellow Princeton researcher Nikolaas Oosterhof, have developed a computer program that allows scientists to analyze better than ever before what it is about certain human faces that makes them look either trustworthy or fearsome. In doing so, they have also found that the program allows them to construct computer-generated faces that display the most trustworthy or dominant faces possible.

              • A trustworthy face, at its most extreme, has a U-shaped mouth and eyes that form an almost surprised look.
              • An untrustworthy face, at its most extreme, is an angry one with the edges of the mouth curled down and eyebrows pointing down at the center.
              • The least dominant face possible is one resembling a baby's with a larger distance between the eyes and the eyebrows than other faces.
              • A threatening face can be obtained by averaging an untrustworthy and a dominant face.

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                The Psychology of Likeability

                One of my Marine Corps friends asked me how to tell if a prospect is receptive.  It is a great question – one we get asked often.  Here is the simple way to approach it:

                Think of the facial expression you'd make if you were skeptical. It's probably a frown, or you'd raise one eyebrow. Your body language would be closed or stiff.

                Now, think of the cues you'd give if you were enjoying yourself. Your face would be smiling, or (both) your eyebrows would be moving up, and you would be nodding Yes. Your body language would be open and reaching forward. Get the picture?  People who are receptive to you unconsciously mirror your facial expressions and gestures.  They smile, nod and reach.  They agree with you verbally and non-verbally.  Key, don't give them anything to disagree with.

                Like this type of information?  Let me know:

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                  Reading Faces

                  Can you read these Faces?

                  If business relationships are important to you, let us help you read people so you can see their values and communication style.

                  You can use this page to test your "people reading" skills.  What can you tell about the following people based on just their faces?  For example, can you see who is a Driver? Or Analytical? Or Expressive? Or Amiable?

                  These first images show corporate decision makers who got into trouble.  What do they have in common?


                  John McCain has what personality type?

                  Can you see the similarities in the following faces?  What do they have in common?

                  Can you see what Hilary's dominant facial feature is?

                  How would you compare Rudi and John?

                  Do Robin Williams and Harrison Ford have the same personality type?


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                    Reading People – the Face of contempt

                    One of the things I love about my business is learning how to read other people. I teach people these “people reading” skills, and have a great deal of fun in the process. I love doing this and love improving my people reading skills.

                    Most recently, I’ve been collecting photos of people displaying the face of contempt. We all have our own definition of “contempt,” but the face is the same in all cultures. Can you see what facial feature these people have in common?

                    – Mike

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