I have a weakness for learning about human psychology. How do humans think? What approaches are more and less likely to cause the listener (or reader, for that matter) to have the intended reaction? I think it is fascinating stuff.
One reason the results of psychological studies and experiments are so interesting is that it’s easy to translate the information to your own experience. It’s like looking in a mirror. It’s impossible not to consider how you match up with the results. It’s nice when they indicate that your modus operandi is sound — but it’s hard to take when the data reveals that your approach is hopelessly wrong.
We all look in the mirror countless times a day, but often we don’t really recognize how we are perceived by others. It’s like the shock you felt when you first heard your own recorded voice and realized it didn’t sound to others like it sounds in your own head.
How do you react when you see someone unintentionally do something that is completely off-putting, counterproductive, or inflammatory? I always wonder how the person could be so clueless — and I find it unnerving because I realize that I also could be blundering through life, deeply offending people I’m actually trying to impress or persuade.
We’d all be better off if we spent more time studying the human condition.