Why Predicting Others’ Behavior Starts With You


With every action you take and word you say towards another person, a reaction is to be expected. The reactions that those around you have to the things you do will vary in how they’re shown. The reaction someone has to something you say can be an internal reaction, perhaps just mentally marking a trait of yours, while a reaction to you pushing somebody on the subway train will be more illustrious. Anticipating these reactions to your words and actions is a beneficial approach to visualize paths to the interactions that you have on a daily basis. If you need an interaction to go smooth with a manager at work, then you will need to visualize the possible ways that interaction can lead and keep track of any turning points and how you can affect them. Steering interactions and communication you way involves anticipating reactions and having responses to others’ reactions.

Anticipating how somebody will react to a thing you say or an action that you commit is a difficult venture to undertake. You can use pattern recognition approaches, body language reading methods, and other telling signs and signals to what reaction is coming. There can be an argument made however, that fully understanding how you, yourself, would react if placed in the shoes of the people that you’re interacting with will lead you to the closest guess on which reactions you will thereby see. It is important to remember that we have deeper insight into our own minds than we do into the minds of others. W can pinpoint down to discreet logic and reasoning as to why we do what we do, by asking ourselves a series of questions into the subject.

Empathy Is Sublime

When trying to anticipate the actions of another, always test the series of triggers which you have presented to another on yourself. How would you react to what is laid out on the table if you have the knowledge and experience that the other has? The goal is to not morph into the other individual, but to be honest with how you would react to the current circumstances yourself. Make your prediction detailed, and apply it to the person who is in question. After you make your first prediction, decide how they will go on to react to a response from you. Do so by placing yourself in their shoes once more, as if you’re talking to yourself. Keep the cycle going until you get down the chain of possibilities and prepare yourself for a plethora of possible scenarios.

This approach takes a bet on a sense of similarity between yourself and the person whose behavior you aim to predict. It hopes to get you in the ball park of anticipating others’ words and actions, but not doing so with precision. The advice of placing yourself in others’ shoes is widely known. A distinction this article proposes, is to not try being somebody that you’re not. Simply analyze how you would react in a given situation. 

The end-goal of anticipating the behavior of others is to be prepared for situations without being surprised. The exercise of exploring the different possibilities of what your subject will respond with – by analyzing how your realistic actions if the roles were switched – will expose you to the sheer number of possible outcomes. It’ll entice you to be quick on your feet, as you enter interactions having gone through both sides of the interaction over and over again. You will begin to notice that even though you may have not predicted somebody’s behavior to a T, you are able to react quickly and effectively to whatever their behavior turns out to be.

Book Recommendation:

How to Analyze People: A Psychologist’s Guide to Master the Art of Speed Reading Anyone, Through Psychological Techniques & Body Language Analysis


Disclaimer of Opinion:
This article is presented only as opinion. It does not make any scientific, factual, or legal claims in any way.