People Management

I’m fine! (What tale does your body tell? Part II)

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

When people ask us “How are you?”, we respond by reflex with “Fine, thank you”. If we were just trying to be polite, that’s fine, we have fulfilled the formalities, we might ask a question back then carry on with our business. This is the opposite of empathy.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to observe other people’s emotions, identify them properly and guide your behaviour and thinking accordingly.

I’ve explained in another article what eyes, wrinkles and hands can tell. Now it’s time to listen to the way people talk, in terms of tone and cadence.

People who talk little, but fast or hide their cigarette while smoking (keeping it turned towards the inside of their palm), don’t want their stories to be revealed. The reasons could be shame, fear, poor self esteem, but  unfortunately nothing coming from the good side of emotions. You may observe that this smoking pose is common among people smoking weed, especially in countries where it’s illegal or they could be misjudged for doing it. Speaking of smoking, those that blow the smoke upwards, tend to feel self-sufficient.

Yeah, that’s right, ‘cause you know…” When someone leaves sentences unfinished or their voice lowers towards the end of a sentence, lowering the tone in particular, that’s a sign of depression. So is the use of absolute words (never, forever, always, no one, nobody, everyone, etc). Natural introverts speak quietly and more softly, but their pace is constant.

People who laugh a lot, even on the silliest things, are usually lonely in their private lives. Read again the part in bold. That’s why we see a lot of comedians or people described as “jovial” resorting to … extreme measures. Many people keep these folks around because they feed on their energy and laughter, and why wouldn’t they since it’s offered for free?  

People who get easily irritated, lack love in their life. We all know or have met people that felt like ticking bombs, frustrated over ridiculous things ranging from someone who didn’t reply fast enough, to the way a phrase was formulated, a task done or maybe the way a product was placed on a shelf at the local store. Even if you reveal this root cause to them, their second nature is denial. They will find their frustration justified and accuse you of trying to play the shrink with them. That’s fine, you can’t help people by force and it’s not your job to save everyone. Just acknowledge what you’re dealing with.

I must say that at this moment these two things (tone variance in decibels and use of absolute words) are things that Artificial Intelligence, via emotion recognition or tone analysis, is terrible at identifying. But since the existing AI is actually machine learning, maybe someday those modules will be trained properly.

Happy people and creative / imaginative people don’t dress in black. You can have however creative people going through a phase in their life when things aren’t going so well. That’s temporary and it doesn’t characterize their wardrobe. Go now to your closet, open it and look at the dominant colours in there. For the sake of keeping things simple: if you’re a guy and that closet looks like a cave painted in black and grey, something is not working out for you for quite sometime (unless you bought all your clothing yesterday). If you’re a woman and your wardrobe is all dark, it’s even worse. I wouldn’t be very proud of all white either, because white, as much as black is a cold colour. Technically black and white are considered non-colours, so if they paint most of your wardrobe, it’s fair to say you’re missing colour in your life.

All these elements, along with body language and other information should always be linked and analysed together. Don’t be so hasty to tag people based on one single thing you observed or worse, a one-time observation. To be able to establish someone’s profile, you need at least a couple of hours of focused study, covering behaviour, speech analysis, facts, medical history if known. Just observe and in time you will learn to connect the dots, then decide how you will use this info.

I hope you’re fine, too! 🙂

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