Reading People’s Emotions

This is a basic life skill and it’s easier to do than many people realize.

The secret – is that the world doesn’t revolve around you.  When you see someone, you are probably making a LOT of assumptions. Your assumptions about them have to do with you and your biases, concerns, fears, insecurities etc.  Part of our assumption is often that – whoever this person is – they are responding to us.

The reality is: they probably aren’t responding to you.  They are their own person with their own fears, insecurities, hopes, dreams and families etc.

If you want to understand what is motivating someone, you have to stop assuming it has to do with you and start actually paying attention to them. Remind yourself that you don’t really know them. They could have lost a child recently, or lost a job. They might be going through a divorce or starting a new love affair. They might have been bullied when they were a kid, or been raped at some point in their past. Their behavior has almost nothing to do with you.

When you open yourself up to the possibility that you don’t actually know enough about them to know what they are responding to and why, other people start to make more sense. Now you are a curious enough to actually look at their behavior with fresh eyes and perhaps ask them questions to get to know them so that you can better understand them.

As soon as you stop assuming they are responding to you or as you would, you can see their emotions more clearly because you have gotten past the filters that were blocking your view because all you could see was yourself and how you would respond if you were them. They aren’t you. Their world doesn’t revolve around you. Allow them to be who they are and you will have a much easier time understanding who they are and what they are experiencing in any given moment.

This sort of advice can be found in my book: The Humanist Approach to Happiness: Practical Wisdom and Living Made Simpler – my life skills course.

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