Say What You Notice


No matter how we may deny it, we totally can sense another person’s emotions. And we usually do a poor job responding to what we sense. We tiptoe or navigate around their emotions. We ignore them or plow through them.

We do all that because we don’t want to feel their emotions (they feel quite bad to us), we don’t want to deal with their emotions, and we don’t know how to deal with them.

Yet when avoid the other person’s emotions, we wreck business opportunities, productivity, and relationships because the important matters that their emotions represent don’t have a way to get resolved.

Here’s a better way: simply notice. Say out loud what you notice they are experiencing. If someone seems upset, say “You seem upset.” If you they aren’t talking, you can say, “I notice you aren’t talking.” If they seem unsure, tell them so. If they are nervous, noticing it will help them become calm again.

By you noticing it out loud, you give both of you a gift. Resolution normally follows quickly.


In your corner,



PS: To make noticing work, you must replace any of your own frustration at, anger at, fear of, or hurt in the situation with a neutral, non-judgmental, and curious attitude.

PPS: Use “You seem…” or “I notice…” statements instead of “You are…” statements. Saying, “You are angry” elicits defensiveness. “You seem angry,” opens a door to conversation.

PPPS: You don’t need to know how to deal with their emotion. Even if they direct their emotion at you, dealing with their emotion is their job. You can help, though, by noticing.

Today’s photo credit: Marc Wathieu via photopin cc

2 thoughts on “Say What You Notice

    1. Hi Debbie,

      You are so right: this is a very powerful tool for groups. Examples that could unstick a group: “I notice we are fighting to agree.” “I notice we are spending time on what seems to be a side topic.” “It seems we have an impasse.”



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