When you’re getting to know someone, every clue you can get to their personality helps. While the observant may want to follow Sherlock Holmes and check out someone’s body language, a simpler way to divine information about a person is seeing how they choose to express themselves.
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As personality psychologist and author Sam Gosling explains, “identity claims” encompass anything we choose to show about ourselves. Some may be conscious, like putting a geeky bumper sticker on your car. Others may be more subtle, like the music you choose to listen to. In all cases, though, we express ourselves through intentional choices. These often reveal a lot more about ourselves than a scuffed shoe or a loose hair on our collar, no matter what the movies would have us believe.
Identity claims are deliberate statements we make about our attitudes, goals, values, etc… One of the things that’s really important to keep in mind about identity statements is because these are deliberate, many people assume we are being manipulative with them and we’re being disingenuous, but I think there’s little evidence to suggest that that goes on. I think generally people really do want to be known. They will even do that at the expense of looking good. They’d rather be seen authentically then positively if it came down to that choice.
While body language, mannerisms and subtle social cues may be helpful in meeting new people, few things can tell you quite as much about a person as what they choose. If you’re trying to get a read on someone, start by observing the choices they make about themselves. Their intentions are usually more informative than accidental or subconscious actions.
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