This weekend, Parade Magazine reported that 100% of adults correctly guessed the emotions of people shown in photographs. But when it came to teenagers, only 50% guessed correctly. I’ve written before that the next generation has trouble reading a room. Previous generations spent most of their time engaging people, and therefore learned the techniques for reading emotions in people’s faces. But for a generation growing up looking at computer screens rather than people, what seems so simple is actually very difficult.
And it matters – a lot. How many of our conversations, meetings, or interviews hinge on our ability to read the emotions and body language of the other person? In a marriage, what people say isn’t always what they really mean. In a sales meeting or pitching a project, you can learn far more by how the person reacts rather than what they actually say.
It will be interesting to see how it plays out as the digital generation gets older. Is it merely a developmental lag? Or is it the result of valuing digital space more than people space?
It will be curious to see….