It’s not as hard as you think. You can probably guess what your spouse or your best friend will order at brunch. You know how they take their coffee. When your co-worker walks away and then comes right back, you know it’s probably for that folder they left sitting on the corner of their desk.
Once you get good at anticipating what others need, you’ll surprise yourself with a terribly wrong guess. You'll be way off the mark, and won't know why. Have you lost your magic mind-reading mojo? When this happens to me, it’s because I made an assumption based on my own biases, rather than tuning in to another person’s words and actions. I let my conscious and unconscious beliefs influence my impression of someone else.
It’s easier than we think to understand the wants and needs of others. Listen for what's important to them, what their priorities are, what they’re passionate about. Try it. And it’s easier than we know to let our own false assumptions influence how we view others’ motives. The cure for this, too, is listening without judgment. Try it.