Hello, This is part III of the three part series on Empathy.
This is a bit late for a number of reasons - time contrained - but also because I couldn't quite think of how I wanted to present this. My original plan was to give you a detailed analysis of how people can be read, examples of how simple we truly are, and basically a summary that implies we create the illusion of complexity in humans... that we are actually quite simple animals. But I found this to be unsettling, and I didn't want to place it on someone elses shoulders to think this way, as it is inherently... well it would have been negatively written. I'd rather like to take you on another path, and once again, show myself the duality of nature - that is, all things have positive and negative perspectives.
So let me begin by stating there is no way to tell if your ability to read people is perfect because of one reason; people don't always tell you the truth. For example, if you look at someone and you believe they are feeling bad and you ask "How are you doing?" more often then not, you will hear the terribly unoriginal word "Fine." So, to practice mastering empathy, and becoming an "Empath" you really have to analyze deeply your assumptions. Bad assumptions can be a very bad thing. Let me reiterate that - if you think you are good at empathy and reading people, but you actually are incorrect, this can be very bad! So use with caution - OK? :)
Like earlier, I want to say there are three things in humans that allow us to communicate our feelings, and an extra to communicate our perspectives.
The three feelings come from:
2. Body language
3. Facial expression
These three things can give away how you feel very easily. I will give some examples later on, but mostly these aren't things you can describe, you just pick up on them, and most of the time subconsciously.
The subject that dicatates your perspectives is vocabulary. Vocabulary is very tricky, and you need to be clever to understand it with anything beyond what is actually being said. Lets look at some examples, both positive, and negative from these communications.
Tone is not always as simple as you think, but it is handled by the subconscious very efficiently. You can tell, for example, if your mother is having a good or bad morning when she calls for you from the other room. When we are irritated we tend to shorten our sentences, use minimal vocabulary and get straight to the point, or if the point is difficult to get across, we stop short. Our tone will be very flat and "normal". Conveying excitement or interest will cause changes in pitch, we sing when we are very happy because we are using the energy to create dynamic sounds. Stories and jokes are better told with dynamic voice, and so when a dynamic voice is encountered it means the person wants to "invite you in" to their thoughts, so to speak. They trust you or want to get to know you. The tone of love is very subtle, but easily spotted. It contains warm tones, strong but soft words. Comforting.
Body language is the difficult to quantify, but again dynamic body language shows interest, passion, or excitement. The more energy we exert the more passionate we have to be about a subject. An interesting study was done on body language: When people were asked to walk on a treadmill so their vitals could be monitored with no one else in the room, not much happened. However, when the researchers told the people on the treadmill that they would be viewed by an audience who would look at how they walked - (their bone structure / muscle movement) the people were found to "Swagger" or show off their body more. The people of course, had no idea they were doing this! We are inherently showing off our body language and it's very subtle as well. To be aware of one's own body language will open the door of understanding other's. For example, a quick look at the feet no matter where or when shows insecurity - you are actually looking at your body quickly to see how you appear to others... Catch yourself next time - "Why did I just look at my feet?"
By far the hardest to quantify - there are an incredible amount of combinations of facial muscles, giving way to innumerable amounts of expressions. Heightened eyebrows show trust and friendship. They, too, are signs of "letting someone in" to their thoughts and feelings. A fake smile is easily picked out as most people won't move much more than the cheeks - when the inner eye muscles, towards the nose, move, its more apt to be a genuine smile. But, most telling is the eyes. I cannot tell what it is about them that give away so much, but a person's eyes are really the gateways to the soul. I haven't been able to tell if it is your peripheral vision picking up ques, or literally staring into the pupils of another that gives away so much. . . There are experts of facial expressions, and as in part II they can deduce a divorce in marriage within a years time with a great deal of accuracy based on facial expressions alone (or so they say).
This... will be discussed later. :) The ability to shape your entire perspective of reality is found in our vocabulary. It is such a strong indication of what and who we are it really needs its own post. My vocabulary has been molded to be very unbiased, I hope. As some words give away a lot. Using the word "Gigantic" instead of "Enormous" tell me a lot about how you were raised... but it gets complicated.
So, I hope you can see, that we are simple. Our expressions branch and overlap across friends, cities, even countries. We are able to easily relate to people, whether or not they speak our language, but it isn't until they talk that we can tell whether they are a republican or a democrat or an anarchist (unless they dress to tell!). We can however, tell if someone is in love, if someone is shallow, if they are lying, if they are excited, all by what we see, and hear.
Use empathy for good. Know we are simple and easily helped. Let others in, and try to let others let you in. Empathy is a beautiful thing - it binds us as a race, even as animals, even as life. Without empathy we are all strangers. With empathy all goodness is possible. So learn, help, and pass it on.
SEE YOU NEXT TUESDDDAAAYYY (or whenever).