How to Learn to Read Minds
Mind reading is a useful skill in uncovering the intentions and motivations of people. It begins at birth--newborns are more interested in human faces than any other visual, and they are instinctively able to recognize when a parent is happy or sad. Whether it's a mother attempting to understand why her baby is crying or a police detective interrogating a murder suspect, the skill is essentially the same: read the body to understand the mind. The best mind readers are often educated and highly intelligent (with an emphasis on verbal intelligence), have open minds and are in good mental health. Their skills enable them to observe and process external factors to reveal the inner thoughts of others.
Work on your listening skills so that others may reveal their thoughts to you. Learn to be silent in order to listen to others: their direct verbal communication and their body language will unlock keys to understanding what they're thinking.
Take note of what a person does not say. Avoiding a question, changing the topic through redirection or frequent equivocating ("maybe," "we'll see," "could be," "perhaps") are signs a person is anxious to avoid a topic, and thus potentially untruthful.
Practice on a friend, family member or neighbor. Watch for fidgeting, excessive hand movements and gestures. Be alert for unnecessary body movements such as shuffling of feet, twirling hair, drumming fingers on a surface, biting nails or lips---they often mean a person is nervous or feeling guilty.
Look into the person's eyes to evaluate pupil size, which can be linked to different emotional states of mind. Pupil dilation is triggered by the autonomic nervous system, which also produces the changes in salivation, respiration, and sweating, according to pyschologist Paul Ekman who has written numerous books on the subject of mind reading. Pupil dilation is virtually impossible to control, Ekman notes; it is an involuntary reaction and powerful tool in evaluating a person's thoughts and emotional state.
When actively engaged emotionally (feeling love, interest or fear), a person's pupils become enlarged. When the pupils retract, a person is possibly indifferent.
Be alert for shifting eyes. This is known as the art of understanding "visual accessing cues" as pioneered in the research of Richard Bandler and John Grinder, who wrote "Frogs into Princes: Neuro Linguistic Programming."
A quick dart of the eyes to the left indicates a person might not be telling the truth, while a shift to the upper right indicates a person is accessing one's memory bank (A shift to the lower right means they're either talking to themselves, or thinking about what they're going to say next.).
Watch for the person to cross their arms, which indicates that the person is uncomfortable or closed off. If someone is using their arms and hands excessively while talking, it's a sign of not getting enough attention, or an attempt to misdirect another person through distraction.
Listen to the tone of the person's voice. Learn to distinguish between what is being said and how it is being said, for there is a difference.
James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.