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Are you an Emotion Scientist?

Humans are hard-wired to make quick judgments based on observations of how others react and what other people tell us. Our brains and impulses often automatically and unconsciously rely on quick judgments particularly those that are different or unfamiliar. They were helpful for our ancient ancestors who used these short-cuts to know when they were safe versus in danger.


With things having changed in our modern world, these mental shortcuts and biases can often lead us astray. The good news is that we are also hard-wired for cooperation and fairness.


We can retrain our brains to override unhelpful impulses and overcome fear and biases. To do this, we must be aware of the roadblocks to both approaching our emotions scientifically, and to responding to the unique needs of those around us.

This begs the question: Are you an emotional scientist? Despite the emotional education we receive growing up, it's important to tune up our emotional intelligence journey by treating our own and others' emotions scientifically.


Just as scientists rely on facts and are inquisitive and analytical, people who are ‘emotion scientists’ seek to understand and observe without judgment. ’Emotion scientists’ use active listening to obtain information by asking others how they're feeling. Moreover they pay careful attention to others' words, expressions, and actions and mull over their own emotions too.

They are always seeking to better understand their own emotional lives and evaluate different ways of handling their emotions through trial and error, and strive to discover helpful ways to deal with their own feelings.


Emotion scientists recognize and attempt to undo their own judgmental tendencies while foregoing quick assumptions or telling others how they feel. By questioning the source of their own thoughts and opinions about other people's emotions, they're willing to be proven otherwise and are open to the others’ point of view and change their beliefs and opinions based on data and evidence available.


Consider this question, are you an emotion scientist or are you an emotion judge? Some people say they're an ‘emotions scientist’ with their acquaintances but emotion judges with the people they care about and love the most. Perhaps you're an emotion scientist sometimes and emotion judge at other times (This is definitely the case with me). It’s good to think about it. It will help in identifying your feelings quicker as well as influence how you will react to certain situations.


A common barrier to being a culturally responsive emotion scientist is that we tend to see others emotions as a reflection of our own emotions. We are biased by what we have felt and experienced and we make judgments based on these biases. Being an emotion scientist means pausing and acknowledging our limitations, and often narrow views in questioning our assumptions about the way someone is feeling.


Here are a four skills to help you on your journey in becoming an Emotion Scientist:

  • Recognize our own emotions and those of others, not only in the things you think, feel, and say but also in your facial expressions, body language and tone of voice.

  • Understand your feelings and determine their source. Consider what experiences actually caused them and see how they’ve influenced our behaviors.

  • Express our feelings in accordance with cultural norms and social contexts in a way that tries to inform and invites empathy from the listener.

  • Try to regulate emotions rather than letting them regulate you by finding practical strategies for dealing with what we and others feel.


Fernanda Martinez

Productivity & Wellbeing Director

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