Jason and his friends can not rely solely on the expression of their feelings to ensure effective social interactions. For every expression of emotion, another person or group must interpret the feelings and emotions being communicated.

The interpretation of another person’s feelings is complex. In order to develop a valid sense of another person’s emotions, the listener must devote attention to actively listening, and also, review his/her memory for similar social situations.

Key neurodevelopmental functions underlying the accurate interpretation of emotions include attending to and recognizing the type of words being used, and how the words are being said, identifying and labeling the feelings of the speaker, and waiting for more information to validate the listener’s interpretation of the speaker’s emotions.

Here are some strategies to help students develop their ability to interpret the feelings of others.

Helpful Hints

  • Use an advance organizer to focus student attention on how the targeted skill of understanding the feelings of others fits into the context of daily social settings, friendships, etc.
  • Build students’ ability to interpret the feelings of others by having them practice:
    • inhibiting their initial responses or reactions and taking time to think about the situation, such as during a role-play activity
    • taking the perspective of others in an attempt to understand their feelings, such as in a story or role-play
    • reading the non-verbal cues in an interaction that help reveal a person’s feelings, such as in a movie or role-play
    • understanding the image another person is trying to develop and project as a cue to his/her feelings, such as in a story or movie