A life-long fascination with human behavior

I’ve always been fascinated with human behavior. We, humans, are quite an extreme species and capable of both horrible violence and conflict, but also of peace-making and reconciliation. What makes us behave in a certain direction then? I always wanted to understand this fully and interdisciplinary: on a sociological, political and psychological level.

As a kid, I was rather shy. I couldn’t relax easily among others because I never really knew if they were to be trusted. After all: why blindly trust people when they can be so varied: both nice and nasty? Back then, Like a small researcher, I closely observed people’s interactions and always tried to ‘understand the code’ of their behavior.

Sociology and conflict resolution

As is often the case, my personal quest informed my professional curiosity. In line with my fascination, I studied Sociology (BSc), Political Science (MSc) and specialized in Conflict Resolution. After studying topics like war, genocide, human cooperation, and reconciliation at universities in Amsterdam, Berlin and Syria, I soon worked for organizations who facilitate peace-talks and inter-cultural dialogue.

I developed three major things:

Firstly, a deep intellectual and intuitive understanding of how a persons’ individual emotions and behavior (incl. struggles) are connected with their psychological disposition, political status ánd social upbringing. It’s all connected.

Secondly, my own social and emotional skill set. I learned how to be less shy and more relaxed among humans. I started trusting people more as I learned how to self-regulate my emotions, listen to my body, express myself in public and gained social agency and resilience.

And thirdly, professional know-how and effective tools on how to help people develop their emotional and relational skills themselves. In trainings, but also in personal sessions which are more therapeutic -as they help people to turn their struggles into personal development.

Individual and group health

I saw the quality of people’s lives boosting once they owned their emotional and relational skills. And I saw how they subsequently contributed to positive social group behavior (in e.g. families, teams, friends). Think: more compassion, creativity, empathy and better conflict resolution in families, friendships and teams.

Encouraging humane behavior

So human behavior can spin-off into many directions: from positive to destructive. My fascination to ‘understand the code’ of human behavior is still going strong and will never cease. I’m glad that my work gives me the opportunity to help people to ‘exemplify man’s humanity to man’ (see quote). In other words: to help their behaviour spin-off towards the constructive side.

To finish with the words of anti-apartheid activist Alon Paton:

There is only one way in which one can endure man’s inhumanity to man and that is to try, in one’s own life, to exemplify man’s humanity to man.

– anti-apartheid activist Alon Paton