How to Know a Person Book Summary - How to Know a Person Book explained in key points
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How to Know a Person summary

The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen

4.4 (645 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

How to Know a Person by David Brooks is a compelling exploration of character, revealing how our actions can provide deeper insight into who we truly are. It offers valuable perspectives and strategies for understanding ourselves and others.

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    How to Know a Person
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    Seeing and being seen

    The Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw once wrote, “The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that’s the essence of inhumanity.” In other words, the cruelest punishment you can inflict upon another person is to treat them as if they don’t matter – or don’t exist.

    On the flipside, one of the greatest gifts you can give to others is seeing and understanding them. It can be life-altering to hear someone see and praise a talent within you that you may not even be aware of yourself. Or for someone to understand exactly what you need at exactly the right moment, and give it to you with warmth and affection.

    Aside from the sense of fulfillment it brings, there are many reasons to cultivate the skill of seeing others. First and foremost, a lot of your most important life decisions depend on it. You need to be able to see your potential spouse beyond their looks and career prospects, and understand if you’re compatible; you need to be able to see whether a potential hire or roommate will remain calm in a crisis and be generous to others. 

    More than that, societies across the world are trying to build democracies that are more multicultural than ever before. For these societies to thrive, citizens must be able to see across race, ethnicity, and ideology. But currently, these skills are lacking. Black people feel that white people don’t understand the systemic inequalities they experience. People from rural communities feel that coastal communities dismiss and look down on them. The list goes on.

    Repairing the frayed social fabric doesn’t mean tackling all of these problems at once. Instead, it starts on the level of the individual. Only when we each improve our ability to see and understand others can we begin to slowly stitch back together the broader social fabric.

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    What is How to Know a Person about?

    How to Know a Person (2023) challenges us to set aside our egos and look beyond people’s superficial traits to really get to know them: their stories, their passions, their motivations, and more. It acknowledges that being able to see someone and make them feel seen is hard –⁠ and yet it’s essential for cultivating healthy relationships. Fortunately, with some dedication, we can all learn how to have healthier, deeper conversations; give people quality attention; and see people in all their delightful complexity.

    How to Know a Person Review

    How to Know a Person (2021) is a thought-provoking exploration of human nature, delving into the complexities of understanding others. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It provides fascinating insights into the hidden depths of human behavior, allowing readers to unlock the secrets behind what makes people tick.
    • Through a combination of research, case studies, and personal experiences, the book offers practical tools for truly connecting with others on a deeper level.
    • With its engaging storytelling and relatable anecdotes, the book keeps readers hooked, ensuring that this exploration of human psychology is anything but boring.

    Who should read How to Know a Person?

    • Personal growth-seekers
    • Those starving for human connection and companionship
    • Coaches, counselors, social workers, psychologists, and HR professionals

    About the Author

    David Brooks is a commentator and author who writes for the New York Times, the Atlantic, and other publications. He’s a correspondent for PBS NewHour as well as NBC’s Meet the Press. His best-selling books on sociology, politics, and culture include Bobos in Paradise and The Social Animal. 

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    How to Know a Person FAQs 

    What is the main message of How to Know a Person?

    The main message of How to Know a Person is the importance of understanding others through empathy and observation.

    How long does it take to read How to Know a Person?

    The reading time for How to Know a Person varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is How to Know a Person a good book? Is it worth reading?

    How to Know a Person is worth reading for its insights into human nature and practical tips on building meaningful connections.

    Who is the author of How to Know a Person?

    The author of How to Know a Person is David Brooks.

    What to read after How to Know a Person?

    If you're wondering what to read next after How to Know a Person, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Art of Influence by Chris Widener
    • The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz & Janet Mills
    • The Laws of Human Nature by Robert Greene
    • Think Twice by Michael J. Mauboussin
    • A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
    • Supercommunicators by Charles Duhigg
    • Read People Like a Book by Patrick King