The inability to register another person’s emotions is a major weakness in getting along. The key is to read the non-verbal channels—tone of voice, gesture, facial expression and the like. Goleman says:
- In tests with over seven thousand people in the United States and eighteen other countries, the benefits of being able to read feelings from nonverbal cues included being better adjusted emotionally, more popular, more outgoing, and—perhaps not surprisingly—more sensitive. In general, women are better than men at this kind of empathy. And people whose performance improved over the course of the forty-five-minute test—a sign that they have a talent for picking up empathy skills—also had better relationships with the opposite sex. Empathy, it should be no surprise to learn, helps with romantic life.
- In tests with 1,011 children, those who showed an aptitude for reading feelings nonverbally were among the most popular in their schools, the most emotionally stable.
- They also did better in school, even though, on average, their IQs were not higher than those of children who were less skilled at reading nonverbal messages—suggesting that mastering this empathic ability smooths the way for classroom effectiveness (or simply makes teachers like them more).
Josh Hunt, How to Get Along With Almost Anyone, 2014.