Thursday, January 10, 2008

Be Like Derren, Part 4: Speed-Reading People

The better you understand people, the better you are at manipulating them -- 0r reading their minds. In a 2003 interview, Derren Brown revealed that one of the skills he uses as a mentalist is an ability to read people:

I'm looking for their [ psychological] triggers, what filters they have for the outside world, what buttons to press,... If I do that quickly I know I can get a response.

DB does not explain how he reads people, but there are many books on the subject.

I recommend The Art of Speed Reading People by Paul D. Tieger and Barbara Barron-Tieger. It is based on the Keirsey Temperament Sorter, a psychology-based personality test. I have been interested in the Keirsey test for years and have read many books on the subject. The Tieger book is by far the easiest to understand.

The book teaches you to categorize people in four areas:

Introvert vs. Extrovert
iNtuitive vs. Sensing
Thinking vs. Feeling
Judging vs. Perceiving

Once you know a person's type (e.g., my type is INTJ), you can make certain accurate generalizations about them. The Tieger book teaches you specific phrases to use with the different types, and they work well for me. [By the way, if you have never taken the Keirsey test yourself, you should -- you can even do it on-line.]

I just looked this Tieger book up on On the product page there is a section entitled, "What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing Items Like This?" Four items were listed -- the book itself, a book on body language, one on NLP, and one on mentalism tricks. Clearly, I am not the only one who thinks this book is helpful for aspiring mentalists.

I do not know what system(s) Derren Brown uses to read people. The Kiersey test is useful, but there are plenty of other approaches. The important principle is that to be like DB, one must focus on other people and learn to make intelligent judgments about them, and specifically about what type of persuasion will be effective with them.

For more "Be Like Derren" info, see the list of Recommended Materials.

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