Monday, February 4, 2019
Book Review: 'The Art of Reading People: How to Deal with Toxic People and Manipulation to Avoid (or End) an Abusive Relation (Positive Psychology Coaching Series Book 19)' by Ian Tuhovsky
‘We can’t get better at something until we know our own limits.’
Author Ian Tuhovsky earned his BA in Sociology and works as an HR consultant for many varied European companies. In addition to recuperating from his personal experiences of low esteem and shyness as a child and teenager he has grown and matured to the point of sharing his experiences as an author of ten books that give evidence of his interest in studying the human mind and the society and offering keys to recovery and to finding happiness and success. He calls this series the Positive Psychology Coaching Series. He also is a musician and composer.
In his Introduction he lays the groundwork for his new book – ‘Reading people, also known as social intelligence, involves looking at someone and seeing the deeper meaning behind their actions. We often like to think we are reading people. But in reality, we are usually only guessing. How do we know we are guessing? Because when we read people “naturally” we’re really only empathizing with them. We interpret their emotions and take on their feelings are our own. And then we create our own stories around those feelings. Doing this presents a challenge. Empathy ensures that we look after each other, that we do not cause undue harm, that we show care and consideration even for people outside of our immediate social circle. Empathy is the reason humans make great parents, or that charitable giving and volunteering makes the world a better place. But empathy can also give rise to solipsism or nihilism. Solipsism means to assume that your reality is the only “real” reality. When you are a solipsist, you act as though everything you perceive, think, and feel is objective. Which means that if someone else perceives, thinks, or feels differently, we judge them as “wrong”. Being a nihilist is a little different. Nihilism denies that there is any distinct “real” or “subjective” reality. When you are a nihilist you act as though anything abstract lacks meaning. A problem arises with that perspective because to us everyone else's mind is abstract! We accidentally go back to solipsism. So, our “reality” becomes the rule and we dismiss everyone else's reality as a meaningless bit of abstract thought. When we try and read people naturally, using empathy, we aren't reading them at all. We are just judging them based on how we would feel, or what we would think if we were in their situation. This works very well when we are child-rearing or donating to charity. When someone can’t tell us what they think and feel, we must use our own thoughts and feelings to gain some perspective. This method also works well when we are interacting with people similar to ourselves. However, when a person knows us, is in front of us, and is intentionally deceiving us, empathy does not work! If deception occurs, we need to start being more analytical and start truly reading a person. When we begin reading them, we have to accept that this person may not be who they claim to be. They may be telling lies. Relating fake experiences. Showing fake feelings. Successful reading begins when we unravel their web of lies and get to the real reason behind it. To actually read someone we need to step outside our own shoes. Because the sort of person who fakes their emotions and lies about what they have experienced and what they think differs from us.’
And so we are off on exploring why reading people correctly is important, personality types (psychos, borderlines, co-dependence – mental health and toxic relationships), narcissism and the delusion of importance, sadism and myriad other aspects of reading people and their personality types an dhow that affects our perception of ourselves. Like all of Ian’s books this is a down to earth healthy approach to positive psychology.
Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.