Sunday Senses ~ Reading People

The extent to which people can read each other is a source of constant interest and fascination to me.

I think the time I was most dumbstruck by someone’s ability to read me was this day five years ago when I visited my 88 year-old mother in the Emergency Room in hospital where she had been on a trolley for several hours.

I put on my brightest smile and she beamed back at me. Before I had time to utter, she asked me how I was. Fine, I said, but what about you?  

She certainly wasn’t going to move on to my question without letting me know that she knew damn well I wasn’t ‘fine.’ Have you looked at yourself in the mirror today, she asked very calmly. Why? I asked.  You look exhaustedyour eyes can’t cod me, she replied very calmly.  She was right, of course!

My Giveaway Eyes Photo: Frank Tubridy
My Giveaway Eyes
Photo: Frank Tubridy

I wonder if everyone has giveaways that those closest to them can read as if they were booming headlines. I can think of a few giveaways alright: an almost inaudible sniff;  a gentle little clearing of the throat; a lightening flick of the head; a gaze held for a trillionth of a second longer than usual …..

Thing is, I reckon my late mother could have read my eyes even if I was wearing big, dark sunglasses!

What are the giveaways that tell you everything?


Author: socialbridge

I am a sociologist and writer from Ireland. I have worked as a social researcher for 30 years and have had a lifelong passion for writing. My main research interests relate to health care and sense of place.

11 thoughts on “Sunday Senses ~ Reading People”

  1. Jean, maybe within families there is more empathy simply because those involved are tuned in to each other by familiarity. But generally I think the gift is only given to certain people. And rarely to men. Maybe ‘the gift’ has been diluted or forgotten in these frenetic times but I think we all know at least one person who can see stuff we can’t.

    1. Oh Roy, I can’t agree with you about only the odd man being able to ‘read people’ they know and love.
      I don’t think it’s so much a matter of people being able to see what we can’t see. Rather, it’s people being able to see through the mask/s. Maybe that changes your view about the gender balance?

  2. Women are far more able to ‘tune in’ to others, and a small percentage of those can go further and know, or at least sense things that others can’t. Certainly in western society you have ‘wise women’, wise men not so much 🙂 There’s a reason why it was exclusively females who were burnt at the stake as witches for knowing too much, or for being able to cure mystery ailments. Have you ever seen an authentic male fortune teller? Yet there are many who swear by Gypsy Rose Lee and her cousins. A sensitive and caring man is just that, nothing more.

    1. Roy, your reference to Gypsy Rose made me smile!
      And, I still don’t agree that a ‘sensitive and caring man is just that, nothing more,’ in this context. Looks like we’ll have to agree to differ on this one! Maybe I’ve just been fortunate in the people, both male and female, with whom I’ve crossed paths thus far but I would say that the balance gender-wise in terms of the precious ones who can ‘read me’ is about 50%.

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