Using emotions correctly puts you in the fast lane

That may confuse you now. But if you have a conversation in your business life as well as sometimes in private, you should react with emotions as far as you can, or use them in a good manner. It saves you a lot of time and thematic detours if you use emotions correctly. You know this for sure when discussing a matter, and suddenly many other topics appear in a conversation. And in the end, you do not even know what you're talking to your conversation partner. But why is that? That happens when emotions come into the discussion. When your interlocutor praises, attacks, condemns, loves, blames or feels touched by other emotions. Or you. In a conversation, you may be able to react quickly. But in e-mails or other written messages, it is already much more complicated.

Let's look at what emotions we can bring about with our words. One of the most well-known projects on this topic is the project, Magellan. It is an international research project to measure linguistically triggered emotions. The point is to measure the feeling associations for the most common terms of different languages. But not only the terms that we use in our language also at which level we touch our interlocutor, or he touches us.

The psychologist Charles E. Osgood researched affective connotations in more than 20 different languages ​​and cultures in the 1950s and 1960s. It's about the feelings that are connected with words. His research result is three levels.

The first level is the valence: Here it is important if the emotion is pleasant or unpleasant. Do we feel attracted or rather repelled by something? We decide in this dimension of the feelings whether an event, a story or the spoken words are good or bad for me. Also, we decide here about our interlocutor, in which we unconsciously ask ourselves the question of whether we like someone or not. Is my conversation partner sympathetic or not. Or do I have a negative feeling and do not want to talk to the person that much?

The second level is the potency: The second aspect of our emotions is something like weakness or strength. For example, anxiety is a weak or debilitating feeling. Anger, however, a feeling that strengthens us. When we talk to somebody or have a written communication, our subconscious mind always asks ourselves how we control the situation and whether we have everything under control during the conversation. Therefore, we unconsciously always ask ourselves the question is the / the other superior to me, do we meet "at eye level," or am I perhaps even stronger?

The third level is the arousal: Feelings differ according to how much excitement (or "activation") is associated with them. For example, "contentment" is something very relaxed, while "enthusiasm" is full of energy. Biologically, behind this emotional dimension is probably the organism's willingness to react to fight or flight: Do I have to react quickly, or can I remain calm and relaxed? In communicating with others, for example, one can recognize calmness at slow speech rate or low facial activity, while high speech rate, more variable intonation, or heavy use of gestures indicate an agitated state and a quick readiness to respond.

Decades of research have shown that these dimensions reappear time and again, whether you study language, emotional images, body language or even brain waves. So one can almost assume a "fundamental law of feeling."

With this knowledge at hand, you can be much more aware of your communication, be it verbal or written. And do not forget the intrinsic communication. Everything they say in your mind immediately affects your emotional state. So you are not only influencing your interlocutor but also, and first and foremost, yourself. It's like a cycle. If you think differently than you speak, your interlocutor will instinctively notice your emotions as not real and therefore not take them seriously.

Now if you want to convince someone and yourself with emotions then look at the following sentences:

1. "So you can be sure that ..."

2. "You certainly do not take any chances that ..."

Both sentences contain a very similar statement. But how do these sentences affect your emotional world and that of your interlocutor? Which statement could be more convincing?

Every word, every signal (body language) that a person perceives is emotionally valued by him. There's a whole cascade of processes deep inside the brain that we normally do not notice (unconsciously) but that has a serious impact on our decision. Basically, an emotional balance is created or put simply: Which statement gets more positive emotional points from me?

Interpretation One: The first two words are not yet of particular emotional relevance. The word "you" already has a positive effect, which is greatly surpassed by the word "sure" before the statement then ends again in the neutral area — emotional balance: positive.

Interpretation Two: Again, the first words have no emotional relevance. The statement "you definitely" is rated positively, but then it comes: the word "no" has a negative emotional impact that is surpassed by the word "risk."

Emotional balance: Slightly negative. And the result is that in the second case a "weak feeling in the stomach" remains, no trace of conviction. Neither with you nor with your interlocutor.

Take a few minutes to review a few sentences you wrote in your emails. Evaluate them according to the three levels and give the balance — positive and Negative words. So you quickly realize what you can improve in your communication.

Have fun analyzing.

Peter Gastberger

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