PURPOSE of Emotions: Communication

musical notes 6 

it keeps me connected

PREVIOUS: Purpose – Survival

Site: FACE DATA (Psychology, Appearance & Behavior of the Human Face)

1. SOCIAL NEEDS – cont.
Effective communication is not just about exchanging info – we also need to understand the Emotion behind the facts. This requires skills in reading nonverbal signals, attentive listening, dealing with any stress in the moment & the capacity to understand our own Es – as well as recognizing those of the person we’re talking to – without them needing to spell it out for us

• Studies have shown that when emotions are intense, the part of the brain controlling higher reasoning tends to shut down (frontal cortex), which is unfortunate because that’s when we need it most. However, in emotionally charged situations, IF we know ourselves well and have learned to stay emotionally present, we can reconnect with our thinking capacity & so have more control of our re-actions, even in a heated state.  This allows us to communicate negative or difficult messages without creating conflict or destroying trust

• How & when emotions are expressed are regulated by social & cultural norms, so that even minor violations of the rules governing emotional behavior can cause serious problems in our interactions, whether personal or in business. We learn to communicate Es based on:
Framing Rules, which define the emotional meaning of a situation (also DB -Frames post)
Exp: For the most part in our culture, funerals are sad occasions & it would be in bad taste to treat it like a party, whereas in others a funeral is a time to rejoice & celebrate.rules

Feeling Rules, whereby each society tells us what we have a right to feel or are expected to feel in a particular situation. These rules reflect & perpetuate cultural values & the roles assigned to various groups. Societies try to keep order by controlling emotional expression in order to maintain their broad structures & moral codes
Exp: Societies that emphasize individuality allow the feeling of pride in personal accomplishments, while those that value cooperation encourage expressions of humility or self-effacement, no matter how great the work

Emotion Work: the ‘management of one’s own feelings or internal work done, in a conscious effort to maintain the well-being of a relationship’. It’s the thought & self-restraint we use when we consider what Es are appropriate for each situation we encounter, especially when we’re concerned that those Es may not suit a specific event.  Normally we make these evaluations based on what we learned at home & from the larger culture we currently live in
Exp: We feel guilty if we start socializing too soon after the death of a loved one. On the other hand we’re judged if we mourn a loss for too long!

• Facts are a type of communication ‘channel’ that allow us to present ideas, plans & goal. Info stated clearly ensures that we will be correctly understood. But Communication also has an Emotion channel.  Emotion changes people’s outlook on facts, so a person who is sad tends to see problems & risks in the world, while someone who’s happy sees mainly opportunities and potential rewards

• Our emotions help us communicate with others, & we signal those Es via verbal & nonverbal language (Emotions & the Body” post). When there’s a difference between the 2, observers will usually respond to the nonverbal portion. We can talk about a painful experience in a calm, rational way but show distress on our face or the way we hold our body – & we’ll get a response to the visual cues first. If we look sad or hurt, we signal that we need help, & an angry face will tend to keep others away.

• Clear expressions of emotion have an automatic effect on others. And because we’re social having an effectcreatures, we want to know about each others emotional state.  When we’re deeply into a certain mood, whether elated or depressed, that mood will be picked up by others very quickly. If we’re talking to someone who is depressed we can feel depressed too (short-term), & if we talk to someone who is happy & confident we’re likely to feel good about ourselves as well.  This is particularly evident when someone famous or charismatic comes in to a room – everyone is drawn to their emotional energy, even before they say anything.  It’s also why we feel scared in horror movies as we watch actors expressing fear which they communicate through gestures & facial expressions

• Every communication has an emotional context, so we can use that context to create an emotional response in others.  News media, powerful speakers & successful advertisers embed key emotional phrases in their presentations, knowing this is an effective way to manipulate their audience.  But we also consciously let ourselves be moved by things we know to be untrue – as shown by how avidly we consume all kinds of fantasy media, because of the emotional impact it has on us.  The best works of fiction not only communicate interesting ideas but also pull at our heart-strings

• Our communications are always wrapped in some emotion.
— If you were to list your extensive accomplishments in a dull, flat voice, your audience would lose interest & not take you seriously. Or they may feel concern & wonder what’s wrong with you, since in this context you should be expressing joy, excitement & pride – not boredom
— Conversely, an enthusiastic salesman can spin such a clever pack of lies that we end up longing for their worthless products (picture late-night infomercials)!

• The right kind of communication will have a direct & powerful effect
a. With ourselves
— dialoguing with the WIC in a loving way will often bring calmness
— writing in a journal can organizing our thoughts & get us in touch with hidden feelings
—  we can feel some emotional relief by imagining a conversation with someone – to solve a dispute, apologize for a difficulty, to add something we forgot or neglected to say earlier….

b. With Others
— talking to someone who is sympathetic & understands us, when we’re troubled, can change our sharing Esmood rather quickly – even when they don’t have a lot to say. The experience of being heard can put difficulties in perspective & making our emotions feel more manageable
— expressing joyful Emotions to others can make them even stronger
— when sharing an important experience we can unexpectedly get choked up, adding weight to our communication
— and nonverbal expressions of caring – a reassuring touch, a hug, holding hands – can make us feel so much better.

NEXT: Purpose of es – Awareness


2 thoughts on “PURPOSE of Emotions: Communication

  1. Thank you for your blog. It is so helpful to see other people feel the same.
    Sometimes when I share my emotions, especially related with some specific thing after i feel relieved. But after that I start to feel empty. The first thing i do then is to withdraw from those people I shared my problems with. And spend some time by myself. I feel anger because Im helpless to solve some situations in my life, and sometimes I need just to share. I dont need advises and how to’s. I feel Im unable to communicate and Im always in this push pull situation.


    • Hi Kira, sharing our innermost self is always scary for ACoAs. Obviously we need to choose who we tell carefully. But even when we share in appropriate places, like 12-step groups, we can still feel shame & want to hide. This is very old fear from being punished as a kid for communicating emotions & has nothing to do with our skill. However, there are plenty of books we can learn from about how to improve those skills like “The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-defense” by Suzette Haden Elgin.


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