[MUSIC]. When students have strong relationships with caring adults, they are more likely to feel engaged and motivated to succeed in school. Research has shown, unfortunately, that a majority of students don't believe there's any adult in their school who is there for them, whom they can count on. As we learned in Section five, we all have blind spots, hot buttons and sometimes there's just not enough time and we fail to notice some of our students. Moreover, many older students are quite practiced at covering up their feelings, which can make building strong relationships difficult despite our best efforts. So we shouldn't have the expectation that we're going to be perfect. It's more about adopting a willing mindset to keep trying and learning. After all, we're trying to build up a new kind of muscle. Let's do an activity to unpack the skill of perceiving emotions. I'm going to display a facial expression and ask you to identify the emotion I show. Ready? Here we go. Jot down the emotion you just saw in my phase. What emotion was I displaying? When I do this exercise in my class, I get a range of responses including bored, calm, annoyed, content, distracted, and even tired. Was the feeling you detected similar to any of these? Which emotion was I actually displaying? Certainly, these are all very different emotions. All right, I was actually expressing calm. What do we learn from this activity? What are the implications for misreading others' emotions? There are many but I think the first is that reading emotions is a lot harder than we think. Imagine how many times we might have misread a student or a colleague. Think about the implications. There are some common barriers to accurately perceiving and understanding other people's emotions. One of the biggest barriers is ourselves. Sometimes when we are full of our own thoughts and feelings, we may simply fail to notice or bring our attention to another person in a meaningful way or we might want to control the other person's feelings. We need the other person to feel a certain way. For example, we need our students to be calm so that we can begin the lesson. When they aren't calm we cast them as being difficult or we get impatient or angry. As an authority figure in the schools, we may feel we need to stay in control and when students appear to disobey us, it threatens our authority. Yet, if we rewind that scene and play it back, we can see that we've often jumped over the step of taking a responsibility to help our students feel calm. As adults, we are the more powerful person in the relationship, or sometimes when talking to someone else, our thoughts default to how we felt in a similar situation and we inadvertently fill up the space with ourselves and take our attention off the other person. Other times we just like some students better than others, even though we might not want to admit it or maybe we're more comfortable with some feelings coming from some students but those same feelings are not okay if other students express them. We also tend to just be more comfortable with some feelings than others. We might easily feel sympathy for a sad or lonely student but when a student is angry, our impulse may be to meet their anger with our bigger anger. Sometimes what's happening accidentally trips an early memory of our own, like anger in the household we grew up in. When that happens, we may mentally drop out of the present moment and down into child space inside ourselves. If we haven't resolved some of our own difficult childhood issues, we can respond to the student in front of us from an unresolved, hurt or angry place that they don't deserve. If we haven't grown up with our own experience of being comforted, we're more likely to respond to someone else's distress by becoming distressed ourselves. Psychologists call this sympathetic distress, when our students' feelings has become our feelings. But if we can act with compassion toward another person and still hold on to our emotional balance, everyone benefits. Is there one particular student you haven't had time for? Take a moment to pause. Open up this space between you and this student in your imagination. Ask yourself, is there any reason preventing me from leaning into their story? Is there anything I could do differently to connect with this student? Research shows that we're better at reading the emotions of people we have spent more time around. That means the more people from different backgrounds we get to know. The more nuanced are understanding of individual differences can be and the more accurate we can become about different people's emotions. When we encounter people with whom we feel less familiar, we're more likely to default to running those people through our brain's threat-detection software. We ask ourselves, is this someone similar to me that I can approach or someone not like me that I might need to avoid? The more different people are from us, the more we need to exert the mental effort to pause because feelings travel faster than thoughts. It's critical to interrupt the automatic emotional reaction and recruit the more advanced and logical prefrontal cortex region of our brain. Only then can we access our ability to take another person's perspective.