People Are More Predictable than You Might Think

EVER BEEN BAFFLED by a person’s reaction to something you’ve said or done? Join the club. Perhaps you’ve acted with the very best of intentions only to learn that what you did irritated the other person. It’s discouraging to be ambushed by negative reactions that you don’t think you deserve.

Such experiences lead many to throw up their hands in despair at ever being able to understand other people. It’s a widespread opinion that you can’t predict how other human beings will react. Lewis Thomas, the noted physician and essayist, wrote in exasperation, “Our behavior toward each other is ...

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