The 7 Habits of Highly Insightful People
Elevate your success, with deeper understanding
Success, in literally any endeavor, depends on how well you understand people. Your customers, your audience, your buyers, your investors—if you really get them, you have a better a chance of really reaching them.
But true understanding takes work. You need intuition. You need curiosity and empathy. You need to look beyond the obvious and below the surface.
In other words, you need to be insightful.
As curious observers of the human condition, we’ve studied the nature of insight for decades. And, in so doing, we’ve identified 7 habits of highly insightful people—specific behaviors that allow the world’s most successful, persuasive, creative individuals to expand their aptitude for human understanding. And as the word habit implies, these are behaviors you can practice and adopt into your daily professional (and personal) life.
HABIT 1. THE METHOD ACTOR | Step Inside Their Shoes and Into Their Lives
Insight starts with empathy. Highly insightful individuals—like method actors—embrace the perspectives and experiences of others to build a deeper understanding of their defining challenges and motivations.
HABIT 2. THE MIRROR | Never Forget the Human Inside
Whether you’re a marketer, a business leader, a researcher or something else, you have unique experiences and ideas that make you who you are. And when you apply your own sense of humanity and self-awareness to a particular challenge or a situation, you often discover unique human truths that are relevant to others as well. It’s almost like looking into a mirror.
HABIT 3. THE REPORTER | Ask Insight-Provoking Questions
Just as a reporter builds a story through critical inquiry, you can uncover compelling insights simply by… asking better questions. Whether it’s crafting a strategic POV, a qualitative discussion guide or simply asking yourself tough questions, the answers will bring depth and dimension to your understanding of any challenge.
HABIT 4. THE OBSERVER | Notice the Unnoticed Details
Details matter. Observing the “little” things that people do and say (or don’t do or say) in the moment often sheds light on a bigger revelation—which is the key to developing powerful, relevant insights.
HABIT 5. THE PEACEMAKER | Look for Paradoxes & Contradictions
As you listen to and observe people, try to identify the things that are troubling, baffling, confounding or eluding them. Look for the tension. In doing so, you’ll not only gain valuable insight into what’s actually bothering them… you’ll have an opportunity to find solutions that resolve the tensions and create a new sense of peace. In essence, this habit is about being a peacemaker.
Learn more about The Peacemaker on Burke’s BeyondMeasure Podcast.
Cherri and Corey talk with Linda Peterman, LMHC—a couple’s counselor, collaborative divorce mediator and an expert in the habit of “seeking tensions and resolving them”—in the quest for insights into healthier, happier relationships. Have you ever wondered what happens in couples counseling? What the 3 Rs are in discussing relationships? Or why people are “hardwired” to resist change? Linda shares these answers and more—all while connecting her work with how marketers and researchers can more deeply and authentically find powerful insights and ah-has.
HABIT 6. THE STORYTELLER | Never Underestimate the Power of Stories
Stories go beyond mere facts, contextualizing ideas and information in an emotional, relatable way. And that takes a keen eye for insight. Great storytellers find the why behind the what—the thematic “hook” that lends a sense of deeper connection to otherwise impersonal data.
Learn more about The Storyteller on Burke’s BeyondMeasure Podcast.
Cherri and Corey sit down with Grammy- and Emmy-nominated musician, film composer and songwriter Peter Himmelman. Peter is an expert in the habit of “never underestimating the power of story” in the quest for insights, and offers specific advice, plus time-tested wisdom, on how to find your storytelling voice in the world of human insights.
HABIT 7. THE HUMORIST | Exaggerate to Make Your Point
This final habit is less about finding insights and more about making them powerful, inspiring and memorable—through humor. Exaggerations and understatements are among the most effective ways to create humor. They create a “mismatch” between the actual situation and the words being said, which has a satirical or ironic quality. Not only does this earn a laugh, but it makes the insight “stick” in a more memorable way.
So, how do you find insights in your everyday life? We’d love to hear from you!
And for more on the power and potential of insights, don’t forget to check out our 7 Habits of Highly Insightful People podcast series hosted by Cherri Prince, EVP, Head of Growth at Seed Strategy (a Burke company) and Corey Beilstein, SVP, Behavior and Research Design. Each episode explores fresh perspectives on human insights—what they are, how to know you have one and how to discover more. Our outside-the-business-world guests offer compelling wisdom and tangible advice on creating environments where insights can flourish and thrive.
Matt Donahue is a Creative Director at Seed Strategy with a keen interest in product innovation and marketing theory. Matt is a graduate of Seton Hill University’s “Popular Fiction” master’s program and writes whenever he can.
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