He is Feeling…
(Read Time: 1:29)
The prior blog showed this man’s facial expression and gestures.
Based upon looking at him, what feelings do you sense he is experiencing? One way to discover this is to check in with yourself, and see what you experienced when you looked at his image. Another way is to go with your first thoughts or intuition. What first comes into your gut, heart and/or mind?
At a general level, many people experience him to be happy. Although it is likely he feels happy, we sense more precisely he is experiencing several other feelings. He seems to feel surprised, excited and/or thrilled. Our sense is that he has just received some wonderful news, and he can barely believe it. Of course, we won’t know what he is actually feeling until we hear his response to what we say.
One obvious way to find out what he’s feeling would be to ask him. Another more subtle way would be to mirror back to him our sense of his feelings by saying something like: “You look like you feel surprised, excited and really thrilled.” Let’s assume he said: “Yes! I got the job, and the salary is higher than I dreamed. I can’t believe it! I am thrilled because now my fiancé and I can set our wedding date.”
This response would tell us we captured the essence of his feelings, he knew we were listening to his inner experience and understood it in the present moment. He would have felt “seen,” “heard” or “understood.” That’s why he spontaneously shared more deeply.
We would know this because he enthusiastically said “Yes!” to our response. We would also know because he opened up further and told us something more personal (i.e. now we can set our wedding date). In contrast, if he slowed down his sharing, changed the topic or got upset with us, we would know our attempt at empathy missed the mark. Remember, the key (to telling how empathic our response is) is determined by the speaker’s spontaneous response to what we say. The speaker is always correct because he is the gatekeeper of his inner experience.
Inviting your comments: Recall and re-experience a time when you felt very excited and happy. Now look in the mirror, and describe your facial features.
We’d like to invite you to the UCLA Extension workshop: Empathy Training: How to Empower Personal, Professional & Financial Relationships
James W. Gottfurcht, Ph.D.