House-Language-2 Does this house look sad to you?

Many of my clients like to develop their emotional intelligence in their coaching work with me. Whether emotional intelligence is innate or something we need to learn from scratch, we can all improve. Some of us use visual clues automatically when working with others. The rest of us can benefit from making this an explicit habit.

Our eyes provide us with information about someone’s emotional state. This can be as an initial snapshot when we meet, or change as a conversation progresses.

Our eyes give us valuable, sensitive information which might not get as far as words.

Duh, I hear you say. Isn’t this rather obvious?

Maybe. But maybe not to all of us, in quite the same way.

House-Angular Does this house look sad to you?

Is this house a little too angular? Might this house (person) potentially be abrasive or aggressive?


Some of us find “reading others” hard. Or if not hard, a bit “hit and miss”. So tips and techniques can help. When we talk about “reading others”, we are often talking about empathy. Empathy is usually seen as a key component of emotional intelligence.

Assessing, detecting, qualifying the feelings of the other person you are engaging with is key and must take place before you open your mouth. Body language can be a short cut to guessing what these feelings are. If you make guessing a “task” to complete before speaking it can make a huge difference to the results you achieve.

House-lean-back Does this house look sad to you?

In your street (meetings) do houses lean in or sometimes jut out? Who is engaged? What can you discern from their stance?


  • Use your eyes to look at body language and then take a guess at someone’s emotional state.
  • Get curious about where a gap might be in between what the person is saying, and your guess about what they might be feeling.
  • Then, think about what a helpful opening comment or question might be.

If you genuinely want to improve outcomes and enhance a relationship at the same time, I suggest you work on the task (what is said) and the feelings (how we each feel) at the same time. The real, underlying problem is more likely to be solved, and both of you more likely to feel seen and heard. Everyone wins!

House-lean-close Does this house look sad to you?

Are some of your houses (team members) too close to each other for comfort? How can you help?


Whether you see the first, pink house in the blog as sad, anxious, perfectly fine or you really don’t know, it doesn’t especially matter. My hope is to stimulate your thinking to develop reading emotions in others in a slightly different way.

If my blog has prompted you to develop your skills further in spotting emotion through body language and developing helpful questions, get in touch. Helping successful executives, professionals and technicians to develop emotional intelligence to complement their cognitive abilities is something I love to do.

Gill is passionate about developing the leadership capability of professionals in organisations to help them manage change, develop a positive culture and achieve successful business results.


House-wonky Does this house look sad to you?

Houses showing the test of time, resilient, trustworthy and useful – do you have team members like this?


If you would like to meet Gill for a coffee, to explore how she could contribute to your career ambitions and your organisation’s opportunities for growth, please contact her here.


Photo Credits: Martin How, Lavenham, Suffolk 2017

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Source: Gill How