Watching the Gauge

There is no visible gauge that tells when people are happy or sad or feeling rushed. There isn’t some external digital readout that you can check. They say that animals are very good at hiding pain and illness out of a survival instinct. You see in nature, the weak are often the first to fall to predators. You would think that as a more evolved species, humans would have moved past that paradigm. You would think. But the truth is closer to animals than we’d like to admit.

When asked, people will respond “I’m fine.” when in fact they are bleeding out emotionally. We tend to hide the hurt out of fear that we will be more vulnerable to attack. I am emotionally exhausted from dealing with the fall-out of resignations, reorganizations, and reassignments. Everything seems to be humming along and suddenly someone’s stress gauge goes into the red. Or worse they blow a gasket – it relieves the pressure temporarily but results in more problems personally and among the people standing too closely!

According to some experts on communication, only 7% is through the words that we speak. We communicate using intonation 38% of the time and body language makes up 55% of the message. I’m learning to listen more carefully to intonation. I’m attempting to be more attuned to body language. I want to increase my emotional intelligence. That is the ability to recognize, understand and manage my own emotions as well as recognize, understand and influence the emotions of others. They have classes on this. They attempt to teach “active listening” and use tests to make you more aware of different personality types, and even train you to remain calm under pressure and in conflict situations. I haven’t had time to take the classes. Instead I’m reading and watching webinars.

What would be easier would be to install little gauges on everyone’s head. I’d like the digital type where I could change the readout to indicate stress levels or switch to read their emotional stability, and even have an indicator of morale. In lieu of that I’ve begun using a modified “5 why” technique. I ask how are you feeling, and I keep repeating it using slightly different phrasing until I get the truth. It takes longer but I think some people feel valued. Then again there are those people who resist every effort to talk about themselves and their emotional state of being. I rather think they feel the line of inquiry is a probing into their personal life and they resent it. I know who they are and I avoid asking them more than once.

21 thoughts on “Watching the Gauge

  1. I was following comments on one of your posts I attempted to unfollow the comments but not sure if that was only comments. When I checked from this page it says i’m following. ?? So if I disappear you will know why.

    When someone asks ‘how I am’ and I know it is just a social question I usually say “upright”. 🙂


  2. I made a deliberate attempt to begin asking everyone I meet how they are. It is difficult to get them to open up, you are right, so I’d be interested to learn more about your five question technique. It’s very cool there are seminars and the like. I have tended to be a fairly self-involved person.


    1. the 5 why works like this:
      How are you doing? Fine.
      No really how are you? I’m OK.
      That wasn’t a very convincing OK, how are you feeling? I’m a little tired.
      Why are you tired? My son was sick.
      Is he better today? Yes, he is but I’m so tired after spending the night in the ER with him.

      And that’s the 5 why. Eventually you get the truth.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, I can see how that would work! I wonder if in some cases, where time is short, if I adjusted my intonation and such, if I could pack more punch just the once? I’m not good at that kind of thing, but I could work on it.


        1. I laughed imagining the interesting (but probably not effective) ways we could adjust intonation to get answers with less effort. Pardon me for not being at all helpful and completely annihilating the point of all this. I’m not right. (in the head)

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Your comment to theinfiniterally caused me to start thinking about it from a different perspective and I did have to chuckle. Maybe I’m not right in the head too.


        2. The assumption is if you ask someone a question and follow their answer with the question “Why?” and repeat it 5 times you will uncover the true answer. I’m guessing it is more about forcing the individual to be honest with themselves as opposed to gathering information. Inflection and intonation can of course play a big role but I’m not sure you can peel back the layers all at once. There is probably some psychologist/psychiatrist who could answer that question…


  3. At reading you ,Val, I was thinking you would be an excellent teacher of biology of the human behavior which sometimes( but fortunately not always ) recalls the animal behavior.
    This recalls also my ancient job.
    Love ❤


  4. From your post, ‘When asked, people will respond “I’m fine.” when in fact they are bleeding out emotionally.’ This really resonated with me–this happens all the time at the workplace and even with our family and friends. I’m not sure I’d want the gauge, though. Too Big Brother, LOL!


    1. I know. The invasion of privacy and thought police are not what I’m advocating although I’d love to be able to increase my emotional intelligence to the point that I could “read” people better.


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