Smile until you believe it...
Back to the Basics
When you see young children react to different situations they do not think how what they say or do will affect anyone around them. The are reacting purely from an emotional state. As they grow logic becomes a factor in the way they react emotionally to things. Up bringing, peer reactions and different settings can also be a factor in the way emotions are seen by others.
People learn to control their emotions as they grow. Learn to hide some, dull down their reactions to others as well as learning when it is appropriate to "let it all out".
I have learned many different ways to understand people from an emotional point of view. Learning to understand emotions not just from a typical point of reference but also from an illogical stand point. Learning how you "tick" will be a foundation for being able to understand how others "tick."
When you read magazines, talk with friends, watch movies...you will see many times how men and women seem to just have that "little bit of difference" that makes it harder to understand what they are trying to say. You may have heard it referred to as "it's a man thing" or "it's a woman thing". When truly it is a "human thing". Miscommunication!
Miscommunication does not have to be just another fact of life. By learning ways to better understand how you feel and why, you will begin to learn how to see why others are reacting the way they do. It is not always easy...but it most certainly is worth the effort!
Who Am I?
There is every personality quiz under the sun out there trying to help you answer this question. I admit I enjoy taking them to see how I turn out! In the long run though...I had to find out for myself who I was. There is not a quiz out there that knows me better than I know myself. I just have to be honest with myself and admit not just my qualities but my flaws.
I find this next part will be helpful if you make a list. (Yes another list!) Here is the part that makes it not so bad...You! It doesn't matter if it is in your head, on a napkin or even fancy note paper. This list is for you. Write down what you believe to be your strengths and weaknesses. When I say what you believe...I want you to write for you...not what you feel someone else thinks you are like.
I want you to write another list. (Yes another list! There will be more!) This time I want you to think about situations that come up in your life on a regular basis. Getting up in the morning, driving your car, standing in a grocery line...anything you may do regularly. Next I would like you to write one word next to each item you have on your list. Not just any word but an emotion word: happy, sad, angry, excited...any emotion word you like.
Now write a list of human interactions. Things that may occur or do occur in your life. Make some up if you would like. Things such as waving to your neighbor, standing in a store line, talking with family, talking to insurance agent and so on. Now as before write one word...one emotion word. Even if you think of many write the first one that comes to mind.
Are there many types of emotions? Is there one emotion that really stands out? This is the beginning of understanding more about yourself. To start to see what emotions you feel during different situations. This is only the start...
What Was I thinking?
Take a look at your lists. you have your strengths and weaknesses. You have things you do regularly and how you feel about it. You have interactions with others and how you feel about it. For the most part basic and straight forward. Would the lists be the same if you woke up angry? or sick with a pounding headache? I know I do not react the same in all my situations. If someone sees me react the same over and over to a regular situation what do you think would happen if I reacted differently? Unless they ask if something is wrong or why I reacted differently they may just assume. This is what I am trying to show you with your lists. My strengths and weaknesses change when I am sick. I may not be the best listener when I have a headache.
Learning to see the different aspects of yourself depending on the day, how you are feeling, different stress levels even exciting moments all play into how you react. If you had not thought about this before what are you thinking right now? It may be helpful to write more lists writing an emotion word at the top and repeat the lists you have made. This might help you gauge where there may be misunderstandings lurking in your future.
Start noticing how you react to different situations. What were you feeling, what stress were you under, what appointment were you late for, what good news had you just heard? Did any of these questions play a factor in the way you reacted? Imagine someone else...not in your shoes going through what you are going through trying to understand your reactions.
Are you starting to wonder what others days or nights are like? What they are going through? How it may be changing the way they react on a regular basis?
Taking the time to understand yourself will shed insight into how others react.
Anything important takes time and practice. By taking the time to better understand yourself and the way you react will help you better understand the reactions of others. Once you make a habit of learning to observe not just yourself but others as well you will begin to see where miscommunications begin. Start asking questions to clarify what the other person means if their reaction seems out of the norm. Assuming someone reacts the same all the time is an assumption that will always be wrong.
Keep smiling. As long as you keep learning and asking questions assumptions will not be part of miscommunication. Understand your emotions and the way they affect your judgment and words you chose. This will be worth any effort you put into it!