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How to Understand One's Feelings and Emotions

Updated on December 3, 2015
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn Stok is an award-winning author who shares inspiration with a vision learned from personal experience and studies of social behavior.

I discovered a powerful way to understand someone's emotions. My simple method can be very useful in relationships.
I discovered a powerful way to understand someone's emotions. My simple method can be very useful in relationships. | Source

What's In This Article?

  1. Cloning One's Posture Can Help with Understanding
  2. Physical Communication
  3. Summary List of Physical Communication
  4. The Power of Active Listening

How often do we really understand the feelings and emotions of others? I mean to "get it" so that you can appreciate where they are coming from with what they say or do.

When it's someone special in our lives, they deserve to be better understood. Wouldn't you agree? We want to have more understanding, but we may not really feel the same emotions that they are feeling. So we end up missing the important part of what's going on for them.

We need to have some way to get in touch with their feelings. I'm going to show you how this can be done with a method that I use.

One's feelings and emotions are expressed along with other forms of communication. This is done subconsciously through body language. Paying attention to body language isn't as strong as something additional that I discovered. Body language tells a lot. But I include an extra trick that I found has powerful results.

When you try this extra trick you'll suddenly have more compassion for that person and you'll understand their emotional feelings that are involved.

Cloning One's Posture Can Help with Understanding

In order to fully understand what's going on for another person, you need to grasp their emotions as you listen to them talk. You will really understand the concept of what they are saying when you include this extra form of listening, as I'll explain...

The feelings and emotions of another person can be detected and felt with startling realism with this method that I discovered... Hold yourself in the same position as the other person. For example:

  • Try making the same facial expression
  • Hold your shoulders the same.
  • Lean similarly as they are leaning.

What I mean by this is to actually clone everything about their posture and carrying out their mannerisms. When you do all this, you'll find that you can actually experience their mood, their temper, and their frame of mind. You will feel all this yourself, and you will understand where they are coming from a lot better.

So pay attention to their facial expression. Try to imitate it. You'll immediately feel something different, possibly in line with what they are feeling.

The shoulders tend to hold a lot of stress. So notice how they are holding their shoulders and immediate that. If they slouch, then do the same. Lean in or out similarly to how they are leaning. All this will reproduce the feeling of their stress level in your own mind.

I think this works so well because it puts us in the same physical state that they ended up in, due to the various stimuli of their environment. So we are doing it in reverse. Rather than having the same stimuli affect us, we are putting our body in the same mold, and thus we can feel the same feelings.

Physical Communication

There is more that can be learned from observing how the other person is holding their body. For example, if they tend to face away, or turn their entire body facing sideways, they may be having a feeling of flight - the desire the get away.

Their hands tell a lot too. If they are angry they may be holding their hands tightly in a clenched fist. Cupping or holding the hands can indicate that they are confused and trying hard to understand.

If they are relaxed, they may just let their hands hang on their sides or in their pockets. Pocketed hands are really a meaningless position. Many men do that just because it's a comfortable way to stand, silly as it sounds.

Effective communication requires understanding the feelings behind what's being said.
Effective communication requires understanding the feelings behind what's being said. | Source

There is nothing more gratifying than having someone really understand the meaning of what's being said.

With many social interactions, we often tend to know very little about one another. We miss out on the innermost feelings one may have. But effective communication requires understanding the feelings behind what one is saying.

When we are having a conversation with someone, we can usually be sure that the words are carefully selected to filter the emotions and the feelings of the speaker.

Effective communication requires understanding the true meaning of what someone is saying, along with grasping the feelings behind it.

Cloning the other person's posture creates the ability to do that.

Summary List of Physical Communication

Body Part
Meaning That Can Noticed
Stress Level
Hand Gentures
Non-verbal Communication
Clenched Fist
Hands in Pockets
Hands Held

The Power of Active Listening

There is one final thought dealing with understanding another person, and that has to do with how we react while we are the listener.

When we are in a conversation with another person and the other person is talking, are we really listening? Or are we reacting?

So that we can really know what the other person is all about, we need to know what is going on for us as well. We need to know how we react to the thoughts and feelings that are being expressed.

To explain what I mean, let me ask you… If you ever had a strong feeling about something that someone was telling you, were you reacting to his or her feelings? Or were you really reacting to your own feelings about the subject?

It’s possible that we respond to things based on our own feelings. So if we truly want to understand, we have to put a great amount of effort into understanding by viewing the world from their perspective and observing their body language.

Then we need to include one important thing. We need to confirm what we understood. We can do this by rephrasing what we heard and saying it back to them. And get a confirmation that we "got it."

He or she should be pleased that you are trying to understand.
He or she should be pleased that you are trying to understand. | Source

Psychologist Carl Rogers {1} described the process of “active listening” whereby the listener reflects back what has been heard until there is a mutual agreement between the listener and the speaker.

If you are not sure you understood something just ask. If you are not getting it, say so.

He or she should be pleased that you are trying to understand better. If they really want to be understood then they should not be intimidated by your extra effort. You will be creating the opportunity to communicate better and with the least amount of misunderstanding.

We can make a worthy attempt at getting closer to the correct meaning of what is the other person is trying to tell us, by keeping in mind how we are reacting to the situation.

I find the most powerful method of understanding someone is the way I explained earlier -- Experiencing their feelings by physically positioning ourselves similarly to their posture will help us understand them on a deeper level.

Try what I was explaining here yourself someday. It may open a whole new world of understanding people. You'll come across as more respectful and they will never realize how you are achieving it.


{1} Carl R Rogers, Active Listening, (ASIN: B0007FAIPA, Industrial Relations Center, The University of Chicago, 1957)

© 2009 Glenn Stok

I welcome your thoughts...

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    • qwark profile image

      qwark 6 years ago

      Hello Glenn:

      I worked in public relations years ago.

      I was required to take and complete the Dale Carnegie course: "How to win Friends and Influence People."

      Listening was a very important facet of the program.

      It's a very important facet of success in doubt about it.

      Important hub!

      Well presented. TY.

    • Glenn Stok profile image

      Glenn Stok 6 years ago from Long Island, NY

      qwark, Thanks for your review. I appreciate your comments.

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