Building BlocksUnderstanding the dynamics of male and female emotions is something we learn as children. From age five onward, we are constantly creating theories as why certain people feel what they feel. We look at the circumstances preceding a particular emotional expression and create a casual relationship between the two. “Johnny called me names because he doesn’t like me,” says five-year-old Peggy, cute as a button. As adults, we may have a different theory – Johnny adores Peggy but doesn’t have the skills to get her attention any other way.

Similarly, as adults, our first theory as to why someone has a certain emotional reaction may be wrong. What does help us to be more accurate is the experience of time and the accumulation of emotional awareness, involving refined empathy and an understanding of how we felt under similar circumstances. Our ability to link emotions to their antecedents is fully functioning at about age five, but the accuracy grows only with time and experience. We become increasingly aware of why people have certain feelings and how each person’s personality fits into the overall picture of emotional reaction. Each one of us is unique, particularly when it comes to emotional personalities. But how do we acquire our own emotional makeup? Certainly, a part of it is genetic inheritance from our parents.

To learn more, read the revised and updated Relationship Economics paperback edition with 40 percent new content, including an all-new chapter 10 on social media and business relationships (Wiley, Feb. 2011).

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