How to Read Behavioral Signals 

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Nora Ghaoui shares an article that identifies how to read the signals that predict what people will do next. 

Have you ever been in a situation where something happened, say, a relationship ended, and you thought, “I should have seen it coming”? Would you have wanted to see it earlier so you could do something about it? You can. You can see things coming by paying attention to the clues in people’s behaviour that tell you what they will do next.

Signals in behaviour

I call these clues “weak signals”. They are the things that people say or do that may seem insignificant the first time that you experience them. But they’re not insignificant. They keep coming back, and they get stronger each time, until you reach a situation that requires a reaction.

I once worked with someone who missed an important project review meeting due to illness. Then he missed another due to an urgent medical procedure. Over time, he missed several more meetings. No one thought anything of it besides concern for his health.

But it turned out that he hadn’t been ill at all. He’d created excuses to avoid meetings that would show that he lacked the credentials that he claimed to have. Pretending to be ill was the weak signal for pretending to be qualified. Once he was found out, he was dismissed.

Why do weak signals exist? A person’s behaviour reflects their attitudes, personality, or capabilities – which change slowly, if at all. When we’re with other people we look at their behaviour to determine if they’re friendly, reliable, caring, and so on. We observe their body language, listen to what they say, or watch how they treat other people. We put together an image of who we think a person is, and we refine our image over time as we spend more time with them.

 

Key points in this article include:

  • Observing the signals
  • Using the signals
  • Creating change

 

Read the full article, Weak Signals. How to Predict what People Will Do Next, on Veridia.com.