Formula of understanding human behavior

No matter how foolproof a process you devise, how flawless a system you build, or how brilliant a plan you sketch out, you will still find two persons standing at both ends of it. And until you have them on board and on the same page, you will never be able to succeed in your pursuit. Yes, in spite of all the automation and artificial intelligence at work, most of the opportunities, problems and issues still (and are likely to continue to) revolve around humans. You just can’t get them out of the equation!

However, most people still don’t show enough respect for the need to understand their fellow humans. Isn’t it ironical! We are teaching all sorts of machines to understand humans and are growing increasingly more negligent towards developing our own ability to understand human behavior. Well, before we discuss this point in details, watch this video to get the gist of what we are discussing, why it is important, and how it is relevant in professional and personal context…



Yes, most people look at human behavior only in a transactional way, because they either find it very complicated, or they don’t find any benefit of going into details. And in terms of human behavior, it is important to not only observe ‘how’ but also delve into ‘why’. In any human interaction, you can’t go only by people’s behavior, you have to also understand the underlying motives, reasons and intentions. Well, like for any behavior, the root of this point lies in neuroscience.

If we will look at our brain then we will find that whenever, while looking at a person’s actions,  we think about ‘how the person is doing those tasks’, there is activation in our brain’s premotor cortex and posterior parietal cortex, which are only related to tracking movement and location. However, when we ask ‘why the person is doing those tasks’, then there is activation in our brain’s right temporoparietal junction, precuneus and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex, which are related to thinking about states, intentions and motives of others.

Asking this ‘why?’ has many benefits. If we are able to understand the underlying intentions behind someone’s actions, then we are able to reach their attitudes and beliefs. It gives us better capability to predict their decisions and reactions and better discretion for choosing our course-of-action. So if you only observe and compile the actions of someone and do not subject those observations to a ‘why’ then you will not be able to connect to that person’s needs, prepare a relevant proposition or build a mutually beneficial association. Well, but to appreciate this fact, social & emotional intelligence is needed.

This ‘emotional & social intelligence’ is about one’s cognizance of the design and functioning of human brain, and how they have the all-important impact on people’s behavior and choices. This confluence of neuroscience and psychology sets the base for developing emotional & social intelligence – the skill of managing self and connecting with others. Yes, this all-important skill of all intrapersonal & interpersonal skills can be learnt, practiced and mastered. However, it all begins with some important realizations like…“In terms of human behavior, it is important to not only observe ‘how?’ but also delve into ‘why?’”.


Dr. Sandeep Atre

‘Emotional & Social Intelligence’ Expert

Founder – Socialigence

Note: Socialigence ( offers self-paced video-based online course on ‘Social & Emotional Intelligence’ with content that has relevance across the globe, and delivery specifically customized according to the work-scenarios in India.