So, let’s say you’re talking with someone and you want to know more clearly what might be on their mind or what they might be feeling.

Try this five step sequence, using your fingers if you like, to help you to be curious about what might be going on for them:


1 Breathe

Firstly, simply be aware of your breathing.

This will help focus.


2 Face

Next, what is the person’s face telling you?

Particularly the eyes.

What emotions might they be experiencing or expressing?

How might they be feeling?

Be open to different possibilities.

We can all be opaque. 


3 Voice

Thirdly, listen.

Behind the words, what might be being said?

What is not being said?

Be sensitive to the tone of voice and wonder what this might say about underlying feelings.


4 Context

What else do you know about the person?

What’s the back story?

Think about the context in which the discussion is taking place.

What do I know about them already or what can I reasonably assume?

Be curious about body language.

Is their posture open or closed?

Are actions aggressive or compliant?


5 Breathe

Then, just breathe for a few moments to allow first impressions to settle and clarify.





(This is an edited excerpt from my book A Lawyer’s Guide to Wellbeing and Managing Stress published by ARK Group in 2015.)

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