Recognizing The Emotions In Others

Have you ever thought about buying a car? You drove to a dealership of a brand you think you might like. You walk over to the line of cars and start looking around.

Then–a salesperson approaches. Big smile. Looking for a car? He breaks the ice. Then he proceeds to tell you all the features of the car and the price, which is only $X.

How do you feel?

A few times in my business career I have been in sales. For the past 15 years or so, I go along on sales calls to provide technical support or perhaps be that person who describes all the features. In fact, only recently I was on another sales call. Many times I have been shocked to watch the interaction and see that the salesperson has never taken the time to know the person we are meeting with and what her needs are.

Or sometimes even watch the prospect. I left a sales meeting one time with a top sales person and told him, “He’s ready to buy.” My friend was shocked. “What?” I said, “Didn’t you watch him while you were talking? He stopped being preoccupied. He asked questions assuming he was already installing the product on his machine. And many other buying signals.”

Observe the other person

These sales people are not unlike us. We are more interested in what we are saying than we are in the other person. But the fourth step of gaining emotional intelligence is recognizing the emotions in others.

One must be very careful here. It is far too easy to miss an emotion. Maybe the anger masks insecurity. And maybe we try to psychoanalyze. We must be observant. Turn the focus on the other person (not on us). Ask, “What’s up?” Then, listen.

  • Watch (observe) the other person
  • Ask questions in a friendly manner (not like a lawyer cross-examining)
  • Listen (really listen) to what they say verbally and physically
  • Paraphrase back to show you were listening and to validate their worth

I am still amazed at how many people are mostly focused upon themselves. Most are good people. They don’t realize it. They may even think that they are focused on the other. But they’re not.

Try it. You’ll learn a lot. And maybe make some new friends.

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