General Question

jjosephs's avatar

What books can I read that will improve my SOCIAL ANALYTICAL SKILLS?

Asked by jjosephs (112 points ) July 15th, 2009

I want to improve my ability to see only circumstance and outcome while NOT being fooled by people’s intentions. Got any book recommendations for me fluther?

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7 Answers

smack's avatar

T.S. Eliot speaks the truth.

EmpressPixie's avatar

This implies that you think intentions are completely irrelevant. They aren’t. Intention is an important factor to take into consideration when analyzing a situation. It doesn’t change the outcome, but intention is the difference between, say, manslaughter and murder. Further, if you only look at the outcome, you miss important things—sometimes things work out poorly despite our best intentions. Other times things work out well, despite the nastiest efforts of “friends”. If you truly want to analyze a situation, you have to be able to look critically at probable motivations, ie, intent.

Of course the biggest factor, I think, in analyzing any situation is to be aware of certain psychological factors at work. So my recommendation is to get a social psychology text book and read through it. Or watch the Simpsons. Most of the main social psychological theories are showcased in at least one Simpsons episode.

For example, you are more likely to attribute another person’s poor behavior to a part of their personality (that person cut me off in traffic because s/he is rude and a jerk) whereas you are more likely to attribute your own to circumstance (I cut that person off in traffic because I’m late to work). This is an example of the Fundamental Attribution Error.

marinelife's avatar

Yeah, EP! Great answer.

wundayatta's avatar

Well, I don’t see how you can know a person’s intentions, so how can you be fooled by them? People might say what their intentions are, but without any indication of the reliability of their statements, you can’t make an estimate of your confidence in what they say.

You might try Neuro-linguistic programming. I’m not sure if I’ve understood it very well, but it seems to me it is about observing people’s behavior, and making some guesses about the subjective experiences that lead to that behavior, and then using communication skills to improve the outcomes of your interaction.

If behavior and stated intentions don’t match, that’s a great sign that a person is not very good at predicting their own behavior, or that they are out and out lying. If you pay attention to behavior, you can probably make better predictions about what they will do then they can. Just don’t tell them you’re doing that. People hate being told that they are lying to you or lying to themselves.

Ah, belay that, me hearty. Sometimes it is helpful to tell people about the dissonance between their stated intentions and their behavior. It takes a deft tough, however, to know when to talk about it and when to leave it alone.

cwilbur's avatar

You can infer a great deal of someone’s intent from a pattern of behavior.

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