Character Chats

Communicating Our Feelings

How do we communicate our feelings?

Here at True Balance Karate, we have a social, emotional learning program called true character, and this month we’re talking about empathy. I understand how someone else feels.

I’m Master H, owner and chief instructor here at the studio. And I have 15 years of classroom experience, two master’s degrees in education. And we have created this curriculum to best meet the needs of our youngest students who are three and our oldest students who are 84.

And this month, like I said, we’re talking about empathy, understanding how someone else is feeling.

Predicting emotional reactions

And when we’re talking about communicating those feelings, we have to talk about predicting them. We have to talk about having a little bit of an idea of how they might be feeling if this happened.

So when we’re talking about that at our mat chat at the end of class, we will give our students some different ideas.

Like how do you think Johnny would feel if his friend Sam was invited to the birthday party and he wasn’t? And then the kids would be like, “Oh, well, Johnny would be sad.”

And we would talk about, “Well, how do you know that?” And they oftentimes will say something like, “Well, I would be sad if I wasn’t invited to the party.”

Or we would talk about how we could then make it better, telling Sam he should be inviting Johnny to his birthday party or offering to go and hang out with Johnny at another time.

We would come up with different ways to problem solve that solution because kids are pretty empathetic human beings. They can understand how someone’s feeling.

And I know at least with my own two kids, if I was ever walking around kind of having a glum kind of a day, they’d walk over and give me a hug and try to make me feel better and those kinds of things.

Reading people

And so as we’re working on these things, we’re talking about, well, what would you do? How do you predict it? How do you see it?

And last week we talked about using facial cues. This time, we might be talking about body language.

Faces are very, very gigantic signals for most people for how they’re feeling. You can see with their mouth if they’re smiling or frowning, you can see with their eyes, if they’re crinkly and filled with joy, or if they’re crying and teary.

But then we’ll talk about more of the subtle clues, like are they quiet? Are they slouching? Are they avoiding having a conversation? Are they talking super fast? What is the tone of their voice?

And so we’ll talk about the tone in terms of is it loud but harsh or is it loud and kind of higher pitched, like excited and using that to help predict and using those kind of clues to help understand where we are feeling with that.

And as adults, we all know when we’ve gotten that message from a coworker, a boss, someone else around like I really need to talk to you.

And if there’s no inflection whatsoever, you might feel like, oh, what did I do?

But if there is an inflection, you’re like, oh, okay, this is a good conversation. Or, oh, this is not going to go so well.

We can predict based off of those people around us, their tone of voice, how things are going to go. And then we show our empathy. We understand where people are coming from.

Predicting in different situations

We predict too.

What about being the new student or the new coworker at our job? We’ve all been new somewhere, whether it’s on a team, whether it’s in a classroom, whether it’s the start of the school year.

And therefore everybody’s in a new classroom with a new set of friends in that particular building.

Coming here into the studio, when you’re a brand new white belt, we can predict how those people are feeling in those different situations, because we all have felt it that way.

And so, as we’re talking about empathy, we’re talking about not just recognizing right then and there how someone’s feeling, but also recognizing that they may also feel these things.

So let’s say for example, the studio. First day of class for a brand new student, we all recognize that they’re new. They’re going to be nervous, but we can also predict that when they get to a jump kick, that they may get it right away, or they may get frustrated because we’ve all been there as well.

So we can kind of lay out a little bit more of the path, a little bit more of the road and see where it’s going. And if we can understand that and we can predict that, then we can show our empathy and share and learn and listen and talk and help make them feel more comfortable in the space.

And so that goes the same in school. That goes the same at work, in jobs, in any location that we might happen to be in, a parent group, a new book club. Maybe you move to a new gym, same kind of an idea.

So as we carry these empathetic ideas through, we’re always remembering how someone else is feeling.

Thanks and we’ll see you on the mat!


True Balance Karate was founded in 2012 by Master Sue and Paul Helsdon.

We offer kids karate lessons for pre-school children ages 3-6 and elementary age kids ages 7 and up. These lessons are designed to develop the critical building blocks kids need — specialized for their age group — for school excellence and later success in life.

Our adult martial arts training is a complete adult fitness and conditioning program for adults who want to lose weight, get (and stay) in shape, or learn self-defense in a supportive environment.

Instructors can answer questions or be contacted 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week at 630-663-2000. You can also contact us here