How Do You Communicate Your Ideas?(14) Human Emotions and Delivering Your Speech Presentations

Emotions are integral to all of human’s efforts to communicate ideas, policies, principles, values, projects, and whatever humans do in, with, and about the institutions they create and destroy, then rebuild, and then destroy again. The cycle continues endlessly.

There is no human alive without emotions. And, whenever humans communicate, exchange, present ideas, or argue over ideas, they do so on the basis of their underlying values that are always guided or informed by their emotions, whether expressed or not. Emotions rule all humans.

In the 4th century B.C., the Greek philosopher, Aristotle identified fourteen human emotions: fear, confidence, anger, friendship, calm, enmity, shame, shamelessness, pity, kindness, envy, indignation, emulation, and contempt.

Charles Darwin, in his book The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals, (1872), noted that humans ability to use the face to express emotions benefited the evolutionary process. It is on this premise of emotion as aiding human evolution that I anchor this article: that the communication of ideas is an emotional act.

Robert Plutchik (2001) identified eight emotions: joy, sadness, trust, disgust, fear, anger, surprise, and anticipation. These are like the eight primary colors that mix and combine to form a variety of colors; and in this case, a variety of human feelings. He grouped his eight emotions into four polar opposites of joy-happiness, anger-fear, trust-distrust, surprise-anticipation [“The Nature of Emotions.” American Scientist, 89(4), p. 344].

In 1957 Paul Ekman, a well known psychologist and pioneer in the study of human emotions came up with the model to assess and understand human emotions through facial expressions or non-expressions. He called it Facial Action Coding System (FACS). This is a taxonomy that measures facial movements in all of 42 facial muscles as well as head movements and eye movements. With this he identified six universal facial expressions common all over the world: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness, and surprise. He linked these to human emotions. He later added a seventh, contempt.

Humans communicate for survival. Survival -is an emotional instinct that govern all human actions and inaction.

If one were to ask an ordinary human on the street how many emotions there were, one may come up with from four to a hundred answers. We are not sure how many emotions humans are capable of expressing. Some cultures lack the language to express their feelings in words.

Even psychologists who study human emotions in the laboratory have conflicting claims on the numbers too.

In 1999 Paul Ekman expanded his numbers of basic emotions not confined to facial muscles as source of all human emotions. His new list included: amusement, contempt, contentment, embarrassment, excitement, guilt, pride from achievement, relief, satisfaction, shame, and sensory pleasure (See Paul Ekman (1999), “Basic Emotions.” In Dalgleish, T. , and Power, M. Handbook of Cognition and Emotion. Sussex, U.K. John Wiley & Sons). This addition demonstrates inconclusiveness of any list on human emotions. But most importantly, the revision points out that emotions are indispensable in human communications.

EMOTIONS AND THE COMMUNICATION OF IDEAS

Emotions are the software for writers, poets, content curators, salespersons, content marketers, persuaders, politicians, actors, artists, movie producers, law enforcement officers, and in fact, everyone.

Daily human experiences compel, impel, and elicit emotional reactions. Humans communicate their ideas on the levels of their emotional connectivity, intelligence, relevance, and involvement. We are emotional creatures. And so we become in our emotions, however controlled and sophisticated we might become.

There are innumerable ways to describe human emotions. There are also innumerable human emotions in all of human societies. Yet, there are societies with inadequate language, words for some of their emotions.

Emotions are not just limited to the human face. Paul Ekman’s typology may have left the impression that only the human face convey emotions.

The human voice communicates, betrays, and conveys emotions even more so that the face, except in silence.

Emotions are also evident in the ways men and/or women walk or run. A man chased by a deer or lion is driven by fear and the instinct to survive. He runs with those emotions as the propellers.

Emotions are complex, varied, and internal; but leaked externally through the human body. Thus, emotions are not always well decoded and encoded.

Humans are complex. So, they have a reservoir of complex emotional expressions. In spite of Paul Ekman’s taxonomy, he conceded that the human face is capable of creating more than 7,000 different facial emotions.

Emotions and how humans express, and experience are both complex, and sometimes apparent; and at other times remarkably subtle and undetected.

So emotions confuse all of us in the public space.

Yet, emotions serve to relay humans’ inner states that can manifest in the voice, face, eye movements, the smile, handshakes, hand movements, gait, hands gestures, and postures, to name a few.

EMOTIONS AND POLITE SOCIETY

In polite society, the expressions of emotions is frowned upon. In the work world, emotions are not expressed. You keep it in. No public displays of emotions.

So, when an ideapreneur pitches his or her ideas, he or she must be seen to be stoic, calm, cool, and calculated. He or she is required to communicate competence through the choice of words to describe, explain, illustrate, demonstrate, convince, persuade, inform , negotiate, or compromise[See my article, “How Institutions Communicate.”]

Humans in sophisticated societies believe it a sign of decorum, respect, and self-control in civil situations to not display emotions. This belief is due such societies’ penchant for fairness. These societies also intend to encourage productivity by ushering in an environment that are emotionally neutral.

Emotional neutrality is rewarded, lauded in most professionally sophisticated settings. Emotional neutrality is required for upward mobility. Emotional neutrality is a mark of professional maturity, and thus communicates professionalism.

HOW DOES ONE COMMUNICATE IDEAS IN PUBLIC SPEAKING WITHOUT EMOTIONS

This is a question that nags me in this series on the communication of ideas: how does one communicate one’s ideas with or without emotions?

In the classical Aristotelian traditions of the communication of ideas,one was bound by the three foundational principles: 1. ethos (ethics); 2. pathos, (emotions), and. 3. logos (logic). I had added 4. mythos (myths). [See my, “The Rhetorical Constitution of Nigeria,” 1992].

Public speaking is always given with a myriad of human emotions based on any context. In fact, a singular speaking occasion may compel the evocation of all eight emotions, when one seeks to arouse, fulfill, and subsequently win assent of the audience.

A pitcher of ideas, products, services, policies, proposals or principles must necessarily incubate his personal emotions; and when time is right, evoke those emotions to make his or her ideas come alive in the presence of audiences that are predisposed to listen.

Appropriate emotions are those that motivate the speaker of ideas to make the ideas public.

In the professional presentation of one’s ideas, one must gauge such ideas to the emotional maturity and psychological readiness of the audience, be it specific, particular, or general. Again, knowledge of the audience becomes indispensable. Also, a grasp of the content makes it easier to amend, and adapt to the situation as they evolve in real-time.

As a public speaker one must acquire the competencies in managing, controlling, and evoking appropriate emotions whenever needed. Appropriate emotions to the context of meaning making, to the audiences, and the purposes for which the speech is intended, is a decision the speaker must make.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND PUBLIC SPEAKING

Emotionally intelligent persons would engage in behaviors, habits, take decisions, and actions that help them manage, cope, and deal with a plethora of circumstances and emotional relations to other people, with the sole purpose to express their emotions in appropriate ways in those specific and particular contexts or situations that demand they speak.

Competent communicators will demonstrate five requisite skill sets when using emotion as a means to share ideas:

1. Ability to perceive emotions.

2. Ability to reason with emotions.

3. Ability to understand emotions.

4. Ability to manage emotions; and

5. Ability to communicate emotions.

TYING IT ALL TOGETHER

Emotions compel us to act, react, reason, and to restrain. We are not always right or as cautious. Even that too, is emotion taking charge.

Emotions play important roles on how we think and behave, either for good or bad. Emotions influence the decisions and relations in all of our lives.

Ideas cannot be effectively communicated without the deeper feeling of belief and identification of the potential values such ideas would add to the people, the idea purveyor, and the prospective specific or particular audiences to which they are intended.

An ideas person who has ideas to pitch, sell,or market is a true believer in that idea. True believers are people with passions. Passion is emotion expressed and contained in varying contexts of meaning making.

In all, emotions are subjective expressions of humans’ psychological states. When modulated or manipulated by the context, emotions become persuasive, liberating, entertaining, informative, corrective, or at the worst of times, abusive.

CALL TO ACTION

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