The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

The World of Iniquus - Action Adventure Romance

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Book Review: Reading People

Cover of "Reading People: How to Understa...Cover via AmazonReading People - How to Understand People and Predict Their Behavior - Anytime, Anyplace. By Jo-Ellan Dimitrius, Ph.D., and Mark Mazzarella

Available at Amazon for 10.88 new from 3.01 used

Rating: Highly recommended!

Jo-Ellan Demetrius is renowned for her ability to select a jury that will give her client a favorable outcome. She worked on the
OJ trial. To be effective at jury selection, Demetrius had to hone her observation skills and her ability to read people. This book shares what Demetrius looks for when she meets people, both professionally and privately.

This is not a typical
kinesics book. You will not learn that if a woman dangles her shoe from her foot that it is probably a sexual invitation (or her shoes are killing her, and she’s desperate to get them off her feet). I enjoy studying kinesics because it helps me to develop my characters’ individual, non-verbal vocabulary. When I chose a dialect and a word pattern for a certain character, I like to back it up with the correct-for-that-character gestures, stances, and ways of moving and being in their environment. Kinesics - or body language books - helps me to choose what is right for each character.

This book, instead, explains how a legal mind looks at a person and how these observations apply to the courtroom. If you are writing a lawyer - and your lawyer is good at what she does, then the information about human observation techniques might come in handy. If there is a big court scene in your book - you might want to bring in a jury selection advisor who can talk about the jury - the pros and cons of each
juror being selected and how that plays out in the outcome of the case. Very interesting - the ramifications of various personalities on the outcome.

This book is not fast paced- though it is intriguing. The authors take the reader from step one to the final conclusions. They teach the hows and whys of observation and the accompanying thought processes. There is a chapter about effective listening as well as how and when to listen to intuition.

One of the ideas, which is repeated throughout, is that not every action and word choice is indicative of a whole. Sometimes people just act “off” - not themselves. It is when someone strays from the norm that the most attention should be paid. Is the generally smiling, jovial neighbor suddenly morose and drooped? Hmmm…..It is most significant when our characters act out of character. That cues the reader in - something odd is going on here; I’d better pay attention.

From a counselor’s point of view - this book encompasses much of my training. The listening techniques are techniques I used with my clients. The observations, right down to clothing choices and presentation styles, were things that I documented in my files. It was interesting to see these techniques from a different point of view.

As a writer, I like to be reminded of the importance of the small details. They help to give dimensionality to characters even if they just step in and step out of a scene. To me, when I read, if an author has included a detail that reminds me of someone I know then I can color that character in with greater ease. Who knows? The character might just remind me of my neighbor, who always dangles her shoe from her foot as she sits cross-legged - as if she were inviting a sexual overture from my husband. Not good.

Yes. I highly recommend this book for anyone in contact with humans - who might want to develop people reading skills and awareness. I highly recommend this book for writers who are developing rounded characters

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