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Becoming a Better Judge of People

| August 13, 2013

by Jim Bruce

It’s hard to be a good judge of people.  Because it’s hard we often, almost exclusively, depend on extrinsic markers academic scores, results in previous jobs, job titles, salary, etc.  We can also add extrinsic measures from social media – how many friends of Facebook, followers on Twitter, or who we know in common on LinkedIn.

These credentials and extrinsic markers, though relatively easy to obtain, tell only one part of a person’s story.  What about character and attitude?  Gauging the information about these softer trains takes one-on-one contact, attentive listening, and careful observation.

This Tuesday’s Reading, “Becoming a Better Judge of People” <>, is as essay by Anthony Tjan that first appeared on the Harvard Business School Blogs.  Tjan is CEO, Managing Partner and Founder of the venture capital firm Cue Ball and author of “Heart, Smart, Guts, and Luck (HBR Press 2012).

Tjan suggests ten questions that can help us understand the why and how behind an individual:

1.  What is the individuals talk-to-listen ration?  If it’s more than 60%, discover why?

2.  Is the individual an energy-giver or an energy-taker?  Energy-givers are the type of person with whom you want to spend time.

3.  Is the person likely to ”act“ or ”react“ to a task?  Is he or she defensive or critical; or problem solving?

4.  Does this person feel authentic or obsequious?  Just being themselves or ”sucking up“?

5.  What are the people around them like?  We are known by the company we keep.

6.  How does this person treat someone not known to them?  Being open and kind to the waiter or taxi driver or ignoring them or treating them rudely?

7.  Is there an element of struggle in the person’s history?  Early failures and hard ships often shape one’s behavior as much or more than early successes.

8.  What has this person been reading?  Typically, more interesting people read a lot.  Tjan says this is a mark of intellectual curiosity.

9.  Would you want to take a long trip with this individual?

10.  Do you believe this person is self-aware?  Self-managing?

Tjan believes as you begin to ask these questions in your interviews, you will be on a path to becoming a better judge of people.

Give it a try in the coming week.  .  .  .     jim