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Identifying Emotions in Others

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

Have you ever thought that someone was feeling a certain way about you? Only to later discover that you were wrong. How did this make you feel? Did you tell them what you thought? How did that make them feel? Why concern ourselves with how others are feeling?

If we don’t take others’ feelings into consideration, we can overlook important warning signs and risk upsetting them. This can damage relationships we want to build rather than demolish. Socialising is an important factor both personally and professionally. To what degree will depend on the individual. However, it has been identified that as social beings our brains do crave social interaction.

So, how do you know how others are feeling? A good way is to ask. However, they may or may not be intentionally lying to you. They may even be lying to themselves.

Some good indicators can be what they do not say. For example, someone may minimise what they have done, or how it has affected others. This can indicate that they are uncomfortable with the outcome. If they are uncomfortable with the outcome, they may now be trying to defend themselves against a negative emotional response. It could be too painful for them to admit to themselves, as it harms their own self-image.

It could be that they are blaming others for their own actions. They may not be able to admit to their own actions and then project these onto others. Have you ever heard the phrases ‘it wasn’t me, it was them’ or ‘they started it’? Generally, this will be characterised by overemphasising someone else’s role in the event.

Alternatively, it could be that they just avoid talking about the topic completely. This could be characterised by avoiding situations, conversations, or when something is brought up, they change the topic of conversation.

We all do these things to different degrees. It is how our mind protects us from those uncomfortable emotions. A reasonable dose of self-reflection is key to being honest with ourselves. However, overthinking can be detrimental. It is a fine balancing act.

Body language accounts for most communication. Are their arms open or folded? Is their body language closed or open? What are their facial expressions? How does their tone of voice sound? Is it loud, quiet, or monotonous? What pace are they talking at? If you know the person, you can detect when these things change. Even if you don’t know the person, you can generally pick up on those physical cues such as tensing, frowning, or sweating. It may also be what they are not doing. For example, they may be yawning a lot because they are not sleeping properly. It may be that they are avoiding you completely. It may be that their timekeeping is sporadic.

There are many ways we can identify emotions in others. Once we have identified these then we can begin to manage them. Self-awareness is so important for us to manage ourselves. We can’t control others only ourselves. However, we can use tools such as empathy, perspective-taking, and listening to constructive criticism to improve our interactions with others.

If anyone wants any support with anything mentioned in this article, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You can visit my website and book a Free Mindset Meeting here: Home | Chloe Mepham BSc Certified Life Coach.

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