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Book Review: Sizing People Up: A veteran FBI agent’s user manual for behaviour prediction

One of the biggest issues with communication and relationships is the apparent ‘unreliability of people’. People say one thing and then… Or we expect one action from them and they are off doing something else. With the result that, too often, we are left surprised and feel let down by the actions of others.

In Sizing People Up, by Robin Dreeke (2020), the issue of understanding how to predict the behaviour of other people is put into a very practical and realistic framework. Dreeke, as the title states, has a number of years experience in the FBI. In that time he developed his framework. Dreeke found it incredible important to be able to predict what people around him would do.

This was valuable for critical incidents, such as 9/11, US security activities, as well as for his professional development. Demonstrating the relevance of Sizing People Up for those in critical incident roles, as well for everyone working in a team environment, who want to move forward professionally and want to develop secure Respectful personal Relationships.

Dreeke overviews the concept of recognising if someone is a friend or foe before moving onto Six Signs for Behaviour Prediction: vesting, longevity, reliability, actions, language and stability.

If you follow my work you’ll be well aware of how important I believe it is for us to realistically recognise if those around as are friends or foes. Are they there to support and empower us or undermine us? So it will be no surprised I was keen to see how he addressed this. I was impressed with how well he outlined a practical approach to assessing others, highlighting the importance of trusting, but validating, and to validate with objective observations.

Then for each of the Six Behaviour Prediction Signs Dreeke outlines ten positive and negative 'tells' that can be used to increase ones ability to predict another’s behaviour. This was the bulk of the book and worth doing step by step to ensure integration of the information and tips provided.

What I really liked was Dreeke’s clarity around ‘prediction’ rather than right or wrong and 'balance', recognising no-one will be capable of all things. As a consequence Dreeke’s framework stays well within the human and humane, rather than idealist, domain.

Core Value:

This is a book worth reading as it provides a realistic and practical guide for ‘Sizing People Up’ by improving one’s ability to predict other's behaviour. In addition the content guides the reader to develop clarity around how they can understand the impact of what they do and don’t do on their relationships. Thus allowing the reader to consider what they could adjust to improve their relationships, at the same time as improving their ability to predict the behaviour of others.

Who I recommend the book for:

'Sizing People Up' provides insights and actions that everyone working in a team environment, who what’s to move forward professionally or wants to develop secure Respectful personal Relationships.


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