Recently I had the privilege of interviewing an academic researcher about an important communication-related topic: EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS. So I’ve got your head ? and your heart ?covered this week.

Unfortunately for some people, expressing certain emotions may be taboo. But have you noticed that people (including political leaders) are slowly starting to express their emotions more publicly? This is good news! 

I’m so excited about this podcast! (And I’m not just saying that because our podcast guest suggested I say so…!)

?The Podcast: EMOTIONS

A friend introduced me to Tatiana Astray, a researcher and educator who focuses on EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS and NEGOTIATIONS.  Tatiana is very close to earning her Ph.D!  While she’s putting the finishing touches on her dissertation, she’s also running online webinars and she took the time to be interviewed for this Talk About Talk interview.

Andrea with Tatiana Astray
Andrea with Tatiana Astray (pre-Covid!)
You’ll learn lots in this podcast episode (I promise!), including:

  • implications of various positive and negative emotional expressions
  • how emotional expressions might (not!) vary across gender or culture
  • the “positivity ratio” of emotional expressions
  • tips for managing emotions to improve your relationships and your negotiation outcomes!

Two points before we go any further:

1️⃣ Emotions vs. Feelings or Moods

  • Emotions are physiological reactions that evoke action, and therefore they differ from feelings or moods. That’s why we talk about “emotional expressions.”
  • Think of emotional expressions as a body dance that helps people coordinate behaviour and maintain relationships. 

2️⃣So what?  Well, it’s the emotional expressions, not the feelings that matter.

  • As Tatiana says, “Your intentions mean diddly squat in your interactions with people. It’s what you’re actually expressing that matters.”
  • The correlation between feelings, or what you think you’re expressing and what you’re actually expressing, is not significant.
Tatiana Astray quote
Tatiana Astray - Negotiations & Emotional Expressions researcher

Thank you, Tatiana!

Click HERE to listen to the ?podcast now.


It’s not surprising that POSITIVE EMOTIONS can lead to more positive relationship and negotiation outcomes.

positive emotional expressions
image Unsplash @brookecagle


  1. Interest – as in demonstrating interest, not just with your words but also with your body language.  Leaning in. Making eye contact.  Focusing on what the other person is saying.
  2. Validation – as in “I understand what you’re saying.”
  3. Enthusiasm – is an easy one (for me!). Try starting every interaction with an expression of enthusiasm: “I am so excited to be here and to work with you!” (Yes, that’s what I did at the beginning of this blog!)
It follows then that NEGATIVE EMOTIONAL EXPRESSIONS can impede our relationships and our negotiations.
  • Research shows that Threats, Defensiveness and Fear specifically have negative implications. 
  • But suppressing emotions is unhealthy – psychologically and physiologically!  Instead, take a break. (More on this below)
  • Negative emotional expressions also include Whining and Complaining.  Not surprisingly, Tatianna said that whining is particularly detrimental in negotiations. (Yes, please share this research conclusion with your children – as necessary.)

negative emotional expressions - whining

image Unsplash @fiveohfilms


Emotional expressions of politicians
What do you think?  I asked Tatiana this question, and she shared some fascinating insights:
  • We all FEEL the same emotions, across gender and across culture. “We’re all human.  We all share the same physiology…”
  • Our culture and upbringing may teach us to suppress the EXPRESSION of certain emotions. That explains why some say, “Women are allowed to express sadness, but not anger. And men are allowed to express anger, but not sadness.”
  • The CORE EMOTIONS include enjoyment, fear, disgust, contempt, surprise, sadness, and anger. Things like guilt and compassion are considered secondary emotions.
 Paul Ekman book - Emotions Revealed
Researcher Paul Ekman conducted some very cool research studies that demonstrate we all feel the same emotions.  For example:
  • He visited a tribe that was isolated from the outside world. He examined their emotional expressions and also assessed their interpretations of expressions from other cultures. His conclusion? Regardless of culture, we experience the same emotions. There’s no culture where people show an angry face when they’re happy, or a smile when they’re angry.
  • He created four conditions for movie watching: a 2×2 design with American or Japanese audiences, watching a movie privately or watching a movie while others observed them. When they didn’t think that they were being observed, both cultures expressed similar emotions at the same time. When they thought they were being observed, the Americans expressed more emotions.  The conclusion?  We feel the same emotions, but our culture affects our propensity to express emotions.
audience emotions
image Unsplash @kristsll


We’ve all heard the advice, “don’t keep it bottled up,” right?
don't keep it all bottled up
image Unsplash @chuttersnap
But according to Tatiana, research demonstrates that expressing negative emotions can impede relationships and negotiations.  So what do we do with that?!?

Here are 3 suggestions from Tatiana on managing our negative emotions:


  • Take a time out if you’re feeling negative emotions that can negatively impact a relationship or a negotiation. 


3️⃣ CONSIDER THE POSITIVITY RATIO: the ratio of positive to negative emotional expressions in an interaction. 

  • Incorporate more positive emotional expressions, especially at the beginning of your interaction (like I did at the top of this blog!)  
  • In romantic relationships, the “Magic Relationship Ratio” based on John Gottman’s research is 5:1.
  • For teams: the praise to criticism ratio is higher for higher performing teams.  So don’t hesitate to compliment your colleague!
  • For negotiations, Tatiana’s research shows that a ratio of about 3:1 resulted in the best negation outcomes.

How Are You FEELING? ?

That’s a lot  to digest, isn’t it? 

The one point that resonates most with me is this sentence from Tatiana: 

“Your intentions mean diddly squat
in your interactions with people.
It’s what you’re actually expressing
that matters.”

Thank you
for everything, Tatiana!

This month in the Talk About Talk private FB group, we’re focused on… EMOTIONS!  And yes, Tatiana even joined in the conversation!   We’d love❤️to see you there.  Just click here to join us.

Talk About Talk Facebook Group

Please let me know what you think about the EMOTIONS ?podcast.  And please email me anytime with suggestions, feedback, or just to TALK


Have a great week and Stay Safe! 

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