Unlike the rest, you’ll have to extract a lot of information from them, like their habits, thoughts, and beliefs. All the while avoiding premature analysis or prejudice which will be the folly of most. “Someone who thinks nobody understands” may have personality traits that are reserved, communication styles abnormal or undeveloped, and/or a unique thinking style and perspective. This case needs a patient, active listener to ever get enough information without being intrusive or otherwise scarring them off. The challenge is compounded if they are misunderstood due to communication efficacy, especially if they are eccentric.
- Start strong: infer their personality traits and accommodate their style. Primarily you need to learn how they communicate about their self and with you so you can be efficient.
- Active listening adapted to them; let them reveal clues so you have a comfortable and natural data stream. Supplement your special listening with keen observation of their interests and most frequent activities
- Be opportunistic and subtle, with respectful discretion; no spying or bombarding.
- Be patient and diligent. Avoid preemptive conclusions and make mental notes. Restrict explicit/direct inquiries as you learn a high-reward-with-low-risk style. Be considerate of your topic and phrasing, as well as timing and frequency.
- Treat it like research, with thoughtful planning and methodical data collection which is applied only if you are confident in success and meaningful contribution.
- Study up on psychology. You’ll need to have basics from social, cognitive, and personality based theories for guidance and tools, and work on areas where you don’t have useful knowledge.
- Adapt your rate and degree of inquiries to their rate of self-expression to maintain that openness.
- Understand manageable chunks and don’t try getting too much at once. Understanding complex things like a unique mind must be done in many parts and many sessions since humans give and receive information this way naturally.
- Always maintain ethical and conservative approaches or you may disturb him or her and lose the mission
- Know they can be understood but they require someone who understands how to understand someone.
I hope you see why others failed and how you can succeed if you do the work: because it’s all based on understanding how to understand people in general then devising a method tailored to them by compiling the optimal strategy piece by piece as you confirm new truths of their mind. Its not intuitive or simple if no one has figured them out yet.
With all this, I’m assuming this person may not realize your special interest in them, but after initial reconnaissance, consider outright asking if they want to help you understand them.
I enjoyed reading this. I think you have understanding others down to a science.
Well-stated points; great insights. I would have loved for more people to approach me this way in my younger days.
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I was highly introverted until I engaged social science. It really can help to build your confidence when you understand empathy from a sociocultural and psychological perspective. Plus: believing in youself is the greatest impetus.
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