Read the room is a colloquial expression for understanding the thoughts, relations, emotions and stances of various people in the same place.
It is the action of analyzing one’s own surroundings in the social and psychological sense of the expression.
An early mention of the phrase comes from the 1974 book of Israel Drapkin and Emilio Viano, titled Exploiters and Exploited: The Dynamics of Victimization.
However, “read the room” took off in the 1990’s when marketing and management guides started taking up the expression and teaching it to people.
“Read the room” is used in a lot of various situations and scenarios from business meetings to performances and friendly encounters.
It was first defined on Urban Dictionary in 2019.
- The Free Dictionary – Read the room
- Harvard Business Review – Tips for Reading the Room Before a Meeting or Presentation