The ability to understand and be sentitive to other people's passions, purpose, giftings, strengths, weaknesses, personality, needs, fears, likes, dislikes, thoughts, and feelings.


Each of us comes from a unique genetic, cultural and family background that shapes who we are and how we interact with others. By spending time getting to know others, you can get a better handle on what the person believes, why, and what he or she might do in a given situation. Understanding others helps build unity and overall team effectiveness.

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.Philippians 2:4

Skilled Characteristics

  • Perceptive

    Understands why people or groups do what they do

  • Intuitive

    Naturally understands and gets a sense of people or groups in terms of positions, intentions, and needs; understands what they value and how to motivate them

  • Anticipates

    Can predict what a person or group will do across different situations

“If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool”

– C.G. Jung

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Non-Perceptive

    Does not read people/groups well – does not understand how people/groups operate or what purposes they serve

  • Surprised

    Can not predict what people/groups will do

  • Judges

    Stereotypes or pre-judges people or groups

  • Limited

    May only understand people similar to oneself in purpose, background and characteristics

  • Isolated

    Prefers working one-on-one; can not reach or motivate groups well

  • Loner

    May be a loner and not really a member of any voluntary groups

“I don’t like that man. I must get to know him better.”

– Abraham Lincoln

Causes of Weakness

  • Loner

    A loner; not a joiner; has not experienced working in groups or has had bad experiences working in groups

  • Dismissive

    Dismisses the importance and value of people or groups

  • Lacks Understanding

    Does not understand how people or groups operate

  • Judgmental

    Judgmental about other groups, teams, and/or people, in general

  • Limited Perspective

    Problems dealing with people with other expertise, styles, personalities or approaches

  • Stereotype

    Sees people as stereotypes and does not give them a chance to demonstrate their skills and abilities

What will you do in the next 3 months to better get to know the culture, background, giftings experiences, and passions of the people on your team?


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Stereotype?

    STEREOTYPE? While having basic knowledge about various groups and cultures might help you understand people better, it is important not to lump people into categories. First find out if they buy into the interests and practices of your stereotype before you begin to use that in your assessment of them.

  • Ask Questions

    ASK QUESTIONS: Ask yourself what makes their blood boil? What do they believe? What are they trying to accomplish? What do they smile at? What norms and customs do they have? What practices and behaviors do they share? Do they not like it if you stand too close? Do they like first names or are they more formal? Do you know what jokes are OK to tell? What do they believe about you and your group or groups?

  • Be Honest

    BE HONEST: Is there a group or culture you don’t like or are uncomfortable with? Do you judge individual members of that group without really knowing if your impressions and stereotypes are true? Avoid putting groups in good and bad buckets. Many of us stereotype groups as friendly or unfriendly. Once we do, we generally don’t talk to the unfriendliest as much and may question their motives. Don’t generalize about individuals. A person might belong to a group for many reasons, yet not be stereotypical of the group.

  • Understand Roles

    UNDERSTAND ROLES: See groups as sets of roles and try to understand each person’s unique role on the team. Belbin, for example, identifies unique roles such as: Leader, Process Manager, Innovator, Evaluator, Finisher, Work organizer, Internal negotiator, External negotiator, Gatekeepers, Clowns, Synergizers, and Enforcers. Try to understand and appreciate people in the context of the role they are in.