In today’s world of intrigues, the need to understand people beyond their appearances, words and actions becomes all the more important, Suhail Ahmad illustrates as he dissects human psychology


 “Many people spend time studying properties of animals or herbs; how much more important it would be to study those of people, with whom we must live or die!”

This famous quote of Baltasar Gracian, 17th-century thinker and courtier, emphasises the need to study and understand human nature. Ideally, we should often realise this need while dealing with people at home, marketplace, workplace and every inhabited place on earth. But it is one of those things we rarely think about. Perhaps we consciously do not want to invest the time and effort to understand people’s psychology. Human nature is indeed so complicated that one can spend a lifetime watching people from close quarters without ever fully understanding them. But that does not make it a less attractive or useless proposition to learn and educate ourselves about people, their attitude and behaviour.

It may sound like an advertisement for a college or university Psychology course but we do not need to be master psychologists or pursue higher degrees in this subject to apply in our lives. We can pick up many comprehensible things from books or internet and figure out the relevant pieces of information for own use. Sometimes it may happen accidentally as in my case when I stumbled over a book on psychology. The opening lines of this apparently important textbook titled ‘Psychology’ by Lerner et al spurred me to read on, only to be stopped by my tendency to doze off over books. Its introductory questions looked so relevant: “Have you ever seen someone act in a way you thought was odd or strange? Did you wonder what made a person act as he or she did? Have you ever wondered why you yourself did, said, or thought something?” Most people are likely to answer ‘yes’ to these questions.

Our experiences with people can often be rewarding, but they can also be fraught with disappointment, anger and frustration. If we pause and try to understand a person’s psychology or temperament before drawing conclusions from his words and actions, it may possibly be less taxing and harmful for relationships.

Besides, it’s always interesting to know about behaviours and thoughts of others. We often get curious about what makes some people tick and others snap. Psychology enables us to understand how this happens – how our mind and body works.

Psychology is perhaps one of the most underrated subjects despite its importance in our day-to-day personal and professional lives. It’s also one of the most complex and intriguing fields. The complexity stems from the complicated human nature though researchers have tried to simplify things.

Psychology is not just meant for an academic degree. It can have important applications in our daily life. The average person may not be particularly fond of voluminous books and research studies, but even a cursory study can provide valuable insight into many interesting facets of our life. Moreover, in today’s world of intrigues, the need to understand people beyond their appearances, words and actions becomes all the more important.

Being conscious of our actions and the triggers behind them is the starting point in exploring our personality. The ability to understand emotions can play an important role in our personal and professional relationships.

We often talk about temperament of a person to sum up the kind of person he or she is. In psychology, temperament refers to those aspects of an individual’s personality, such as introversion or extroversion, which are often regarded as inherent rather than acquired. Each individual is unique, but we also have many characteristics in common. Sometimes when the common personality traits are more palpable in two persons, we say they have the same temperament.  As much as it may seem difficult and useless, one can easily understand the four broad temperaments and easily relate them to ourselves and others around.  The classification of people as per four temperaments – sanguine (pleasure-seeking and sociable), choleric (ambitious and leader-like), melancholic (analytical and literal), and phlegmatic (relaxed and thoughtful)- is useful in understanding people. One can find his/her temperament type with the personality tests readily available online. Once we identify temperament of a particular person, it become easier to deal with them or simply stop bothering about them. Similarly, when we are conscious of our own temperament, we are in a better control of our words and actions.

Finding out why we think and act the way we do and how other people affect us and how we influence them may just make many things in our lives much less confusing and stressful.


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