- Relational Wisdom | Ken Sande | Biblical Emotional Intelligence | Peacemaking | Institute Christian Conciliation | Reconciliation - https://rw360.org -

Can You Read Faces and Eyes?

Thirty-two years ago a trial attorney read a distressed look in my eyes and responded in a way that changed the course of my life.

The ability to read the emotions in others’ eyes is super-valuable today, since so many of the faces we see each day are covered with masks. If you keep reading, you’ll learn how you can access two tests that measure your ability to read both eyes and facial expressions.

But first, the moment that changed my life.

Embarrassing My Judge without a Shirt

My first job out of law school was to clerk for a federal judge. He served on appellate courts around the country, so we often traveled together. One week I left early so I could attend a Christian Legal Society [1] Conference in Chicago before flying on to join the Judge in Washington, D.C.

The CLS conference was informal, so I wore casual clothes for three days. As I was repacking my bag the last day of the event, I realized with horror that I’d failed to bring a white dress shirt, which was an essential part of the suit-and-tie wardrobe expected in Federal Court. I had no way to get to a store and cringed at the thought of embarrassing my Judge by appearing in court improperly dressed.

As I walked into the conference center for the morning keynote, I was racking my brain for a way to buy a shirt. I was standing in a crowd of over two-hundred attorneys when the keynote speaker, an attorney named Fred Cassidy, walked through the lobby. He passed me but after a few steps, he suddenly pivoted, and came back to where I was standing. Having noticed the distressed look on my face, he asked, “Are you OK?”

I was a complete stranger, barely out of law school. He was a highly respected litigator and CLS Board member, who was about to give the keynote address at the conference. And yet his trained eye had noticed the distressed look in my eyes and on my face, and his kind heart brought him to my rescue.

As soon as I blurted out my dilemma, Fred reached into his pocket and pulled out his car keys. After telling me where his car was parked, he explained how to get to a nearby shopping center. He then asked me if I needed any money …

Thirty-eight years later, I’m still moved to tears when I recall his sensitivity and kindness.

That one act defined the Christian Legal Society in my mind and moved me to become a member. That involvement heightened my interest in biblical mediation and arbitration and led to my founding the Christian Conciliation Service of Montana, which evolved into Peacemaker Ministries … and eventually led me to establish Relational Wisdom 360.

A very small gesture on Fred’s part, but one that changed the course of my life, led to two fruitful ministries that have impacted hundreds of thousands of lives all around the world.

Learning to Read Faces and Eyes

Reading body language, facial expressions and just a person’s eyes is a vital relational skill and key element of other-awareness [2]. As Fred Cassidy demonstrated, this ability can have a life-changing impact on our friendships, marriages, parenting, professional success, as well as our ministry to others and witness for Christ.

The Bible gives many examples of how our facial expressions can communicate our inward thoughts and feelings, which may include anger (Gen. 4:5-6), anxiety (Gen. 40:5-7), sadness (Neh. 2:2), gladness (Prov. 15:13), gloominess (Matt. 6:16) and resolve (Luke 9:51) … to name just a few.

Some people seem to have a natural ability to read others’ faces and eyes. Not me. All too often, I’ve completely missed important facial cues from those around me … often sending the message that I simply didn’t care about their concerns or struggles.

But God has been helping me to steadily grow in this area. Here are a few ways that you too can improve your ability to read other people’s faces.

The turmoil of current events and the limitations of masks provide countless opportunities to improve your ability to read eyes and faces … and to use your insights to minister to people who are lonely, sad, anxious or discouraged.

You never know when such sensitivity may enable you to read and bless someone the same way that Fred Cassidy read and blessed me—and impacted the course of my life—so many years ago.

– Ken Sande

Reflection Questions

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© 2020 Ken Sande

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