How Do You Gauge People When They’re Hard To Read?

by Reid on October 31, 2015

Couple Toasting With WineHow to find a balance where you’re not offending? Some people are hard to read so you don’t always know, if you’ve offended people. Finding that safe balance  can be a challenge.

Join relationship expert Reid Mihalko from and Cathy Vartuli from as they talk about how to find a balance between self-expression and helping others feel comfortable.

Cathy: I had shared in a video how I don’t like to make people feel awkward. I tried to read the room or read people.

Reid: Go on.

Cathy: Find a balance where I’m not offending. Someone wrote in that they had a very similar reaction. She said, I usually gauge when someone is out with me and attempt to go from there. Some people are hard to read though. I worry too much that I’ve offended people at times. Finding that safe balance for me can be a challenge, how do you do that?

Reid: I’m Reid Mihalko from

Cathy: I’m Cathy Vartuli from

Reid: The answer is … what do you think the answer is?

Cathy: I know you’re …

Reid: Do you feel uncomfortable? I’m sorry. Is this awkward?

Cathy: I know what your answer is likely to be.

Reid: What?

Cathy: To be self expressed and let people take care of themselves.

Reid: Oh my God, that’s challenging.

Cathy: Yeah.

Reid: That makes me feel even more awkward, nervous. Oh my goodness. We’re all human. My answer is when in doubt, ask people what’s going on for them politely and with some personal space. Don’t get in their face and be like, “Are you okay?” But what you can say is, “Hey, I’m not really good at reading people and I’ll get nervous and get in my head trying to figure out what’s going on. May I just ask you how you’re doing?” That way, what you’ve done in a really savvy way is you admit what’s going on for you which will often, if you’ve seen the video on hamsters, like hamster wheels, like I get in my head, admitting what’s going on for you and sharing that with the person or people involved will often quite down those squeaky hamster wheels in your head. The other thing is you admit of vulnerability. Remember folks, unless you’re working in like … I’m going to pick on Wall Street people for a second, this isn’t fifth grade anymore. If you’re in fifth grade, you’re watching this, good for you.

Cathy: Good job.

Reid: You’re awesome. You’re going to be awesome in life. Unless you work in like a really dick industry and people are using vulnerabilities against you, you sharing social situations of like, “Hey, I’m not good at reading people and I get in my head if I’m trying to read minds and guess. May I just ask you what’s going on?” What you did is you say what’s going on for you. You admit you’re not good at this which sets up the context to why you’re asking how they’re doing and you’re encouraging role modeling for them that they can do the same thing and most of us are trapped in that sixth and seventh grade hell. This is a way to break out. It may be unconventional and it might not be your style so you might have to massage how you say it and what you’re saying but the communication tool is the same. I’m building connection with somebody by acknowledging how awkward social situations can be for me and then asking for more information.

Cathy: I tend to be a little less direct than Reid but I found that just asking people if I can check in, I will get really in my head and be convinced that they’re really unhappy about something I said. I find if I just gently ask, “Hey, I didn’t mean to offend you by something I said, I just want to check in,” and I let them know I care, “I care about you being comfortable with me. Did I upset you when I said X, Y, Z?” Most of the time, they’re like, “What? No. I was thinking about my son or my dog,” or whatever. But the fact that I shared with them that I was concerned and I cared about them really opened up the connection. They now know that I care about how they feel.

Reid: Yeah, just the same. Like, “I’m in my head. Can I check in? I’m afraid that I offended you and I care about you. I just need to check in.” Most people are like, “Of course we get it because we all do this.” You’re not alone and the people who are not going to admit that they get in their heads too, they’re liars, liars.

Cathy: Plus, when you do this, it role models for them, they get to check in with you if they’re worried they offended you. I mean, it just makes the communication really clean and easy. I encourage you to let people know that you care and would like to check in and see if you’ve offended them.

Reid: Now, we need to check in with you. Tell us how we’re doing. Have we offended you on this video? Leave comments below.

Cathy: Yeah, and trying to read the room. I’ve tried it for years. It doesn’t work really well.  You can be present with people but just check in and ask, use your words and that’s the best way to move forward. Thanks for asking.

Reid: Good luck kid Jedi, you fifth grader. You rock. Show this to your parents.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: