3 How to Read People and Predict Behavior

THERE’S AN EXPRESSION that often is used when a person wants to avoid full accountability: “I know enough to be dangerous.” It’s a terrific way to get off the hook when someone wants you to undertake a task you know you have no business tackling—cooking dinner for twelve, doing your own taxes, talking someone down off a ledge—and it feels a lot better than copping to complete ignorance. However, too often we don’t apply this gambit when we absolutely should, rendering the expression more clever than useful. For example, most of us believe that we’re pretty good at reading people, that is, assigning meaning to subtle gestures and body language. We believe we know, for example, that when people have their ...

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