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Can you read people’s emotions? Do you immediately know when a friend is stressed and needs to talk? Can you tell right away that your child is confused or uneasy? While we often associate the ability to decipher emotions will detecting negative feelings, it’s just as important to know for sure when someone is displaying a positive emotion. Here are some tips for reading other people’s emotions that will definitely come in handy in professional and personal relationships.

Make Eye Contact

When you’re having a conversation with someone, make eye contact with them. The emotion in a person’s eyes will always tell you how they’re really feeling. Even if someone is smiling or frowning during the conversation, their eyes will reveal if they are truly content, bothered, sad or confused. In order for the conversation to flow naturally, look away every few minutes to refocus your eyes and keep the person from feeling awkward. However, it is important that you look the individual in the eye when they are speaking.

Look at Body Language

The way a person positions their body can also tell you a lot about what they’re feeling. For instance, if the individual is moving around a lot while you’re trying to have a serious conversation with him/her, it may be that the person is nervous about the subject matter of the conversation and doesn’t know how to verbally express this. If the individual is sitting with their shoulders slightly hunched over, this could indicate that he/she is sad or overwhelmed. A person with his/her head held high is likely confident and engaging; however, this body language could also mean that he/she feels a sense of entitlement.

Facial Expressions

The expression on a person’s face can also tell you a lot about their feelings. However, this method of reading people’s emotions is most accurate when you are also looking at the condition of someone’s eyes. For instance, a person could give you a smile that appears bright and friendly, but this could be an attempted cover-up to hide the cold darkness in his/her eyes. It’s also important to pay attention to the way a person smiles. A fake smile will look stiff and unnatural, since a genuine smile requires more facial muscles. Or, an individual may have a stark look on his/her face, but the person’s eyes could be bright and welcoming. In many cases, though, the look on someone’s face and the look in their eyes match.

Aura

When a person enters the room, what is the first feeling you get from them? Does he/she seem professional and poised? Do you feel that the individual is friendly? Can you tell that he/she is hiding something? Does he/she seem like a fun person to hang out with? An individual’s overall aura will tell you a lot about his/her emotions before you even speak to the person. Pay attention to the initial feeling you get when a person walks into your space or you walk into theirs. This will tell you a lot about what the person is feeling, whether you know them well or not.