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How to Become a Good Judge of Character

Very few people claim to be poor judges of character. In a casual self-assessment, we're just about as likely to profess that we have no sense of humor. But nearly all of us could be better at sussing out what people are really like, under their carefully crafted public persona.

As Anthony K. Tjan at HBR Blog Network points out in a recent post, figuring people out is complicated because it depends on characteristics that are harder to divine:

"Judging on extrinsic and skill-based factors is a relatively objective and straightforward exercise. Gauging softer traits such as will or attitude is much, much harder, and takes one-on-one contact, attentive listening, and careful observation. That's why it's important to approach a job interview more as an attitudinal audition than a question-and-answer period around skills."

Among other things, Tjan suggests looking at:

1. Talk-to-listen ratio.

You'll have your own cut-off point, but if the speaker talks more than 60 percent of the time, you might want to ask yourself if it's because he's a blowhard ... or insecure. Either one is not good.

2. Energy.

No, Tjan isn't suggesting that you determine their aura. Rather, he's saying that you want to look at whether this person gives energy or drains it away.

3. The long car-ride test.

Can you picture being in a car with this person for a long trip? If not, ask yourself why not -- and remember that working together on a team project is about a thousand times more stressful than driving Route 66.

Tell Us What You Think

How do you figure out what people are really like? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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(Photo Credit: usfbps/Flickr)

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