book cover

How To Read a Person Like a Book

By Gerard I. Nierenberg and Henry H. Calero
Category: The Human Mind

(65 von 100)

Why: People don’t say what’s on their minds.
Goal: Learn a Gesture-Reading.

Action: Care For Them And Describe Their Feeling.

3 Key Concepts

  1. Gestures come in clusters.
  2. Materials for Gesture-Reading: Face, Walk, Handshake.
  3. Pay attention to an environment.


How to read people and describe their feeling?

It is actually not that hard. Most of the expressions are commonplace. The fact is that we ignore and take no interest in others.

Face that fact.

The difficulty is when the circumstance influences the behavior. Then gesture becomes much more difficult to read. Even that depends on your ability to care and put yourself in their shoes.

This book packs many illustrations, depicts the subtleties in human behavior, in this case, gestures.

Learning is acquired by reading books,
but the much more necessary learning,
the knowledge of the world, is only to be acquired
by reading men, and studying all the various editions of them.

Lord Chesterfield, “Letters to His Son”

First, gestures come in clusters.

The key is to view in context. Without context, the understanding of gestures can be very misleading. Mind the composite positions and how a complete picture evolves.

Think in terms of language in the text, we don’t read only a few alphabets or words, but the sentence and its paragraph to grasp the context. Do the same for body language.

"Watch out for the man whose stomach doesn't move when he laughs." - Cantonese proverb

Second, materials for Gesture-Reading: Face, Walk, Handshake.

The books suggest that we pay attention to the most expressive part of the body: her face. There you will get a lot of information.

Then, focus on the motion she moves in a place: body posture, pace, length of stride; these all change with emotion.

Lastly, contact directly with a handshake to test your hypothesis about her feeling.

"There is a hand that has not heart in it,
there is a claw or paw, a flipper or fin,
a bit of wet cloth to take hold of, a piece of
unbaked dough, a cold clammy thing
we recoil from, or greedy clutch with the heat
of sin, which we drop as a burning coal."
- C. A. Bartol, "The Rising Faith"

This is a practice of observation.

Lastly, pay attention to an environment.

To sum up, gestures are emotional and hard to be interpreted concisely. However, a huge part is though we all are saying we want to read a person, we don’t care enough to pay attention to their gesture and their situation.

The book introduces many funny and rather obvious illustrations of a person in different emotions. It is a fun book to remind yourself how obvious that is, then we might think.

Read Their Gestures.

Goal check: I learned a Gesture-Reading from a 50-year old book, still very much relevant today.

Wasu’s Review
( 3.0 / 5.0 )