7 universal emotions to learn for a higher EQ (Part 2)

Posted by Ngan Nguyen on

In the previous entry, we talked about 3 out of 7 universal emotions you need to know to improve your emotional intelligence. Let's find out what the remaining 4 are.


This is a positive emotion to nurture. Although it is generally easy to realise when one is happy, it also makes it easy to fake! An obvious expression of Happiness is a smile, but seeing a smile doesn’t mean seeing happiness.

7 universal emotions to learn for a higher EQ

In the book Leadership Charisma of Deiric McCann, Jim Sirbasku and Bud Haney, the readers learn how to differentiate between a Duchenne Smile (a real smile) and a non-Duchenne Smile (a fake smile) by paying attention to the crow’s feet wrinkles. If a person smiles to hide their not-so-positive feelings, the only thing that changes on their face is their mouth. Their cheeks are not pushed up and their eyes don’t “smile”. Be aware of the expression people show before the smile, it may very well be the real feeling.  

Even if you are not the factor causing that uneasy feeling, you should show your care by follow-up questions like “Is there something wrong?” or “Did I say anything that make you feel uncomfortable?”. Small gesture it might be, it shows how much you respect and care for the client.


In contrary to Happiness, Sadness is the hardest to fake because the muscles controlling its expression is very difficult to control.

7 universal emotions to learn for a higher EQ

When a person is sad, they have difficulty in focusing on what you are talking about. Even if they can, they will most likely to only recognise the dark side of it. When experiencing a negative emotion, people have the tendency to filter out all the negatives in any situation that they are in and lose focus of the present.

In such situations, you should show empathy and care. Listen carefully without disrupting. You may ask more questions but it depends on the level of relationship you hold with the other person. Also, if you really need them to focus on the matter at hand, show your empathy to their feeling but be straightforward about the urgency of the situation.


You may mistake Surprise with Anger at first because they both have the expression of the widen eyes. In that case, pay more attention to the eyebrows.

7 universal emotions to learn for a higher EQ

When a person is Surprise, the eyebrows are raised and arched while in Anger, they are pulled down. Also, when in fear, people will widen their eyes so much that you can see the upper white in the eyes. It is usually accompanied with the reaction of pulling backward.

Surprise comes into place when something unexpected happens, be it good or bad. Hence, you need to take in account the following emotions to make sure how the other person thinks about such a surprise.

Straightforwardly explain your reason to do/say so and be ready to answer any question as well as observe their emotions. You will then be able to adjust your behaviours and words to build trust and assurance in them.


The most detrimental emotion to relationships is Contempt.

7 universal emotions to learn for a higher EQ

This emotion is usually expressed by the raising of one lip corner only. It is universally considered an expression of disdain and disrespect to other people or to what they are listening to. What makes this expression dangerous is that many people consider this a “half-smile”.

However, researches have shown that showing this “half-smile” earns you no respect or positive reaction from others. If you have a habit of smiling with one lip corner raised, it’s time to change it because no matter what you think, this expression create a very uncomfortable feeling in others!

Contempt usually appears when a person considers himself superior to others, so he doesn’t need to pay attention to whatever the other is talking about. Therefore, if you notice this expression on anyone’s face, think again about what you have just said and what they may have thought of it. Address their concerns openly and honestly without beating around the bush. Also be careful when you start to show this expression!

We have just learnt about the 7 universal emotions. It is time for you to practice them. Observe people around you and “guess” the outcome of those situations. Or you may want to watch some game shows on TV to see whether you can tell what the people are about to say.

It will take a lot of time and effort until it becomes your habit. Remember that the expressions of the 7 universal emotions are very quick and fleeting. So pay more attention and you will be very surprised!

As you see, "reading" emotions is not a simple task. Even you yourself sometimes can't be aware of your facial expression or realise the impact of your emotions on people around. Yet a little more perserverance to practice with descriptions about the 7 universal emotions as well as our suggestions will help you achieve both goals: understand and manage your emotions as well as others'. Good luck!

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