Issue #180 – January 7, 2018
(Understanding Human Behavior-Pt.1)
People are extremely complex and figuring out the different ways our minds work is never an easy task.
Everything we do is influenced by a variety of experiences – from the culture we were born into, to the circumstances and situation we are currently in to our genetic makeup and physical appearance.
Filmmakers are artists and like all good artists we have a driving internal need to tell our version of the human condition.
But to effectively create our own “compelling stories with believable characters” we need to first know the different factors that affect the human mind so we can better understand how (and why) people act and talk.
We must make it a priority in our lives to find out what makes us “tick” and discover what motivates us to do certain things.
We must understand the importance of self-esteem and body language. And we must understand why different cultures and environments affect us and cause us to act in certain ways.
If we really want to understand people, we need to constantly observe how people make sense of the world they live in.
The good thing about human behavior is that it is observable and as storytellers we must carefully watch the way people react to different situations and circumstances in order to know “why and how” their behavior changes.
(1) Basic Human Needs
Human needs are an important part of our nature. Values, beliefs and customs differ from country to country, but we all have similar needs and these needs are powerful personal motivators.
According to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs,” (Motivation and Personality) there are two major groups of human needs: “basic needs” and “higher needs.”
Basic needs are physiological, such as food, water, shelter and sleep; and psychological, such as affection, security, safety and self-esteem. If these basic needs are not met, we will always try to make up the deficiency.
Higher needs are called growth needs. These include needs such as knowledge, justice, goodness, beauty, order etc.
Every day people all over the world strive to meet their individual needs and goals but if our Basic Needs are not met, they then become the main source of our daily goals because these personal basic needs are more urgent.
Higher Needs will become a “motive of behavior” as long as the basic needs have been met. But unsatisfied basic needs must always be filled first before a person can satisfy their higher or growth needs.
(2) Understanding Ourselves/Understanding Others
Human behavior (how we act) is a term used to describe a person’s actions based on different factors in our lives such as our attitudes, character traits and social beliefs.
And because our physiological needs can influence our perceptions of others, the way we make sense of the world has a direct influence on how we interact with others.
Each of us live different lives (with distinct experiences) and our ideas and attitudes can be similar, or different, from one person to the next. And since we are all affected by our combined life experiences, we can be influenced by a great many factors.
For example: our behavior can be greatly influenced by the rules and social beliefs that govern behavior in our individual groups and societies. Our behavior can be affected by each individual’s faith (religion or philosophy.)
Our behavior can be impacted by our individual genetics that vary from person to person and it can also be influenced by our physical state – are we physically, emotionally and mentally healthy or are we stressed out and physically or mentally unhealthy.
There is never one reason why a person does something. People do things for lots of different reasons and some of these reasons are completely unconscious, so looking for just one reason for someone’s actions could lead to serious misunderstandings.
An important factor in how we see ourselves is (how we perceive) how other people see us.
Other people’s reactions and ideas matter to us and they greatly influence how we act in life because we tend to judge what we are like by the way other people think of us and how they respond to us.
(3) Body Language (Non-Verbal Communication)
Most people tend to believe non-verbal communication (subtext) more than they believe the words (text) that are actually said which is why we usually pay more attention to a person’s body language and tone of voice than we do to the actual words they use.
Facial expressions, posture, gestures and tone of voice are all important indicators of our attitudes and feelings and we need to be able to understand these feelings so we have some idea of how we should respond to them.
People often convey a lot of extra information in the actual words they choose, as well as how they say them, so it helps to listen to the pattern of words which people use to find out what they are really saying – or not saying!
Eye contact is one of the most powerful communication signals of all. When we look directly into someone’s eyes that means they have our undivided attention. And if we don’t want contact or we don’t want to disturb people, we tend to look away from them.
Next Issue: “Understanding Human Behavior (Part 2)”
ActionCutPrint.com Peter D. Marshall
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