How to Suppress Emotional Responses in Others

The question in the title can seem Machiavellian in nature, and it very well may be. The fact of the matter is that controlling the emotions of others is a simpler undertaking than you may believe it to be. Humans are affected by each other to an extent which perhaps goes unnoticed by yourself and the people who influence you. We are influenced in all aspects of what we do, from the body language that we display to our actions, plans, and speaking patterns. As an aside, when somebody is taking part in an interaction in which they feel uncomfortable in, their first instinct becomes to mirror the person in front of them. They mirror the person in body-language as well as verbal mannerisms and flow of conversation. Remembering humans’ tendency to mirror each other is critical in developing plans in controlling, or steering the emotions of your peers.

In an effort to control emotions of the ones who you interact with, you will look towards tools and techniques that have been previously studied and maybe even have been semi-successful in delivering the promised results. You must first understand what makes you susceptible to changing emotion and which factors trigger you in that domain. If your mother came to you crying about an event that took place, you are likely to mimic her sad emotions. If a friend that you meet at the local bar is happier to see you than usual, the smile on their face will transfer over to yours.

Prepare to Feel

Our emotions are a function of the emotions of those around us. The good news for your pursuit in controlling other people’s emotions is that emotions are easily swayed based on the specific moment in time which you’re in. The bad news is that you will need to feel, in an honest manner, the emotion that you want others to mirror and take with them. Controlling emotions thereby involves being a sort of emotional martyr and forcing that particular emotion on yourself before it can be transferred to other people.

You need to be in touch with how susceptible your audience is to mirroring your emotion, as it has to make sense in the larger environment that you’re in. This means it will be harder to make someone angry in a room full of puppies and cute kids. It also means making somebody happy will be a difficult pursuit during funeral proceedings. You need to be in touch with what the physical environment around you enables you to achieve. Once you’re sure that emotions can be swayed, you need to begin feeling those emotions yourself. The combination of you, the environment, and your audience’s susceptibility will hopefully turn into them mirroring the emotion that you want them to feel. 

This seems like a simple approach, but using it well is a difficult undertaking. You need to have a plan of action once your audience adopts the emotions that you want them to adopt, and act through your to-do list effectively while still maintaining that emotion in yourself which you want them to feel. Once you see that they have given into your emotion, and are feeling it themselves, your plan must be in place to act based on their emotion. Emotions open us up in different ways, you can gain someones trust when they are emotional and you can also ruin what they worked hard for.

Emotional moments are great in allowing you to influence people who would normally be difficult to change. Emotion forces their guard to lower, enabling you to have your way if you choose.

Book Recommendation:

Mirroring People: The Science of Empathy and How We Connect with Others

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