4 Books to Help You Understand People

4 Books to Help You Understand People

Recently, a friend of mine got me a meeting with a pretty influential person who could open some big doors of opportunity. But he (and several other people) warned me that this person was a bit eccentric and not very trusting. The meeting could be tough. I could tell he was nervous for me.

What was scheduled to be a five-minute meeting turned into thirty. Then as we were walking out of that meeting we ran into another influential person and ended up talking for another fifteen minutes to that person.

As we stepped onto the elevator to leave the building my friend turned to me and asked, “How do you do that?”

I asked him to clarify what he meant.

“How did you make that meeting go so well? I learned more about that person in the last half hour than I have in the past seven years. It’s like you instantly won the person over.”

I explained to him something I learned a long time ago. It’s not always the most talented or educated people who get far in this life. Usually it’s the people who have learned to work with people that go furthest.

I have made it my mission to make caring for people a priority. I’ve found that when I focus on loving my neighbor as myself it also ends up working out quite well for me, if I do it with the right motives.

I decided that if I wanted to learn to love people better I needed to understand what made them tick. In many ways humans are infinitely complex, but in others they are actually quite simple.

Here are four books that made a lasting impact on me and taught me some important principles to help me better do what Jesus said is the second greatest commandment – to love your neighbor as yourself. (Matt. 22:39)

1. The Strong and the Weak by Dr. Paul Tournier
Every person you meet struggles with a deep sense of insecurity. We all know we aren’t who we are supposed to be. Some people try to compensate by being powerful and strong. Others compensate by being passive and weak. But the root is still the same. If you can remember that every weird thing someone does is based in insecurity, you can care for people no matter how difficult they are.

2. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This book is all about putting people first. Every human has one thing in common. We (ourselves) are the thing we are most interested in. If you can become interested in others you open the door to relationship with them. It covers some of the most basic people skills. Learning to listen, remembering names, asking good questions, smiling and being genuinely interested in others.

3. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl
The book is a memoir of Frankl’s experience in a Nazi prison camp. In the book he talks about the primary drives of mankind – the search for meaning. We are all seeking our purpose and trying to understand why we are on earth. If we can recognize this truth and help people find meaning we can serve them greatly.

4. The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck
I read this book once per year. It’s that good. It talks about discipline and our human tendencies to seek instant gratification and deny responsibility. It goes into how to develop discipline, but most importantly it uncovers some of our deepest human motivations. You really need to read this book.

I encourage you to become a student of God’s greatest creation – people. God loves people. A lot. (John 3:16) We should too. We need to make putting people first a priority. These books will teach you how to care for people’s core needs.