How do we Recognize People?

As humans, we recognize and connect with people in a multitude of ways. We notice obvious things like mannerisms, body language, facial expressions, colloquialisms, and styles. But there are more subtle and deeper ways too such as recognizing a person's energy, beliefs and values.  As we develop over the years, understanding these points of recognition usually expand - how about for you?

May 4, 2021
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Melissa Albers  0:00  
Hey everyone, you are listening to the self awareness Journey podcast. This little banner is about a car ride long and features your hosts JJ Parker. And Melissa Albert's JJ owns a tech company. And Melissa has been a coach working with influencers for the last 18 years.

JJ Parker  0:18  
Melissa of a few years back, I had something happen in my life that I thought was like, really interesting. I was I've been I was reflecting on it recently. And I think we should talk about it. So a few years ago, I had a friend. We knew each other really well. Years and years child like son's High School, right? Yep. And he went through a very big change in his life. He kind of had like a psychosis kind of event and kind of like a mental breakdown and really struggled at his job. And and it was a really tough time for him. Right? Yeah. And he and I used to see each other like, almost every day, then this event happened. Didn't see him for like a year. And when we finally met up again, it was really interesting, because when we met him, he physically looked the same. But it's like, I remember describing it as like, I couldn't recognize them. I didn't recognize him anymore. Like we talked, we chatted, we did the chit chat, we you know and yeah, and hey, how you've been doing and blah, blah, blah, but, um, underneath there, it was like, not the same person. Right. And it really got me thinking about how we recognize people.

Melissa Albers  1:52  
Yeah, that's like such an interesting conversation to have. I'm looking forward to this. Yeah.

JJ Parker  1:58  
So we're on our 50th episode. Oh, yeah. Which is awesome. Right. Well, and I thought this one, maybe we'd get a little bit less on the ground and a little bit more. Yeah. wandering around in the woods. Yeah,

Melissa Albers  2:13  
that's my favorite spot. You know, I'm always gonna go a little on the deeper side of the pool and this conversation.

JJ Parker  2:20  
So I like this conversation. How do we recognize people? Right, and when we were talking earlier, there's some, you know, basic ways that we recognize people. Yeah, right. There's, like, the physical way. Right? Like we see them. Yeah, in a crowd is their face. You know, like, Hey, I know this person. Yeah, right. I know, my I recognize my own family. Yeah. There's actually a diagnosable trait for people who struggle recognizing people physically, which I thought was interesting. I'm gonna botch the name of it, because it's impossible to say, but it's like prosopagnosia. And it's called face blindness. Hmm. And it affects 2% of the population. Hmm. And I think it affects me a little bit too, because I, I kind of like struggle. Recognizing people. I

Melissa Albers  3:15  
have my own theory on this. I'm not sure. I'm not sure you have this prognosis. As much as you have extreme introversion and you avoid eye contact at all cost.

JJ Parker  3:25  
I can recognize everybody's shoes, but I can't

Melissa Albers  3:29  
say change new shoes, we're in so much trouble.

JJ Parker  3:34  
Okay, well, I can self diagnose blindness, I guess. We'll just say it's introversion.

Melissa Albers  3:42  
But let's keep going. Let's keep going. Okay, so physically, right, like, yeah,

JJ Parker  3:45  
yeah, you recognize them by their face. A lot of times, you can recognize people by their actions, right? They're ever like, see someone like way in a crowd? And they're like, I don't know, dancing around. You're like, Oh, that's my friend. You can't even see like anything about them other than like, goofy movement,

Melissa Albers  4:02  
right? Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Or how they walk? Like, yeah, certain Great. Yeah.

JJ Parker  4:08  
Like, I it's really interesting that we're so good. Like, humans are so good at identifying these subtle clues. Right? Right. Yeah. Speech or like the way they talk their accent, their cadence on their speech. Yeah, a lot of times. You can, you know, you can pick your friends voice out of Yep. Out of a busy crowd, right. Yeah. Yeah. Which is another kind of amazing, amazing thing. So all those physical things, those are those are all well and good, but I want to talk about beyond that. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  4:45  
But before you do, but before you do, I want to also I think, I think instead of using them were the word just recognize other people. I feel like there's all sorts of associations that go along with that. You know, I think like, we connect with people because of what You're just referring to, you know, like we can feel like if we have similarities in some of those things, similarities and how we like to swing our bodies around our arms or, you know, or the way we talk, like if we like to get animated, you know, other people that are that way, it isn't only a recognition, but don't you almost feel like it's an association. Like, there's a lot of things about people that we are attracted to, because of that, that those things that they're kicking off. And I think it probably goes a little deeper than that, which I know we're going to talk about, but I think it's also an attraction and association. It's a kinship, not just a recognition, I think it can't be a recognition, but I think the spectrum is pretty wide.

JJ Parker  5:45  
Like you're saying, like, I only hang out with other people that wear Adidas shoes.

Melissa Albers  5:51  
Well, you do have a lot of friends, Adidas shoes, including me.

JJ Parker  5:57  
Well, you're saying like, like, sometimes physical, you're saying, Are you saying like sometimes like that kind of physical appearance? Like, people like group together around those kinds of things? Right. A certain fashion? Yeah, like certain fashion statements people grew up around. Yeah.

Melissa Albers  6:13  
Especially in their younger ages. You know, like, you're talking about high school or college? Definitely, definitely. Yeah.

JJ Parker  6:23  
Even mannerisms, right. Like, obviously, mannerisms, a lot of times in your family, right. Like, your kids might have the same mannerisms as parents or like, like, your friends will pick up the three or friend group or like start talking, you're using the same kind of like colloquial, or Yeah, using the same, you know, actions. Yeah, yeah, that's interesting.

Melissa Albers  6:47  
I was looking at some pictures of my dad and I not too long ago, because you know, my dad was sick and had stem cell transplant, he was really sick for a while. He's great now, but when he is sick, I was looking at a bunch of pictures of the two of us. And I'm laughing at this conversation, because 80% of the photos that are the two of us were standing exactly the same. Yeah. It's not funny. So yeah, so that's one. So the physical piece so

JJ Parker  7:13  
you can recognize the, you know, like your families. You recognize a family group or right, right, or a friend group based on some of these things. Yeah, for sure. This goes beyond like just a individual recognition. But you're starting to like recognize in a group, that's a dress, I never really thought about that. Yeah. So like, we talked about those physical things, we're talking about, like speech. The other thing is, like, I was thinking about, like, Can you recognize someone by the way, they think, Oh, that's interesting, right? Like, by their thought patterns, or like the way they process things, and that's like, just a little deeper than the way they look or the way they act.

Melissa Albers  8:01  
So when you say you're using the word recognize, and now you're talking about something a little deeper thinking about a thought pattern, or talking about a thought pattern. Can you give me like an example of that to help me get my arms around that a little more?

JJ Parker  8:16  
So, like,

Melissa Albers  8:20  
do you mean like in, like, in a work environment you would associate with someone earlier? Because you would recognize that their thinking pattern was one that you would benefit from? Do you mean, like something like that? Like?

JJ Parker  8:33  
Maybe, like so? Um, let's see. So like my own? Here's an example for me. Yeah. Right. Like I would say, when, when I was younger, I didn't have a very developed view of, like, religion, more spirituality, or self awareness. Right. Any this topic? Yeah. Now I do. I feel like I do.

Melissa Albers  9:07  
There's always a goal, right? Yes, exactly.

JJ Parker  9:11  
But, like, the way I thought, then, then the way I think now is very different. And people will comment about how, like, wow, you're thinking really differently now than you used to? Oh, that's interesting. Right? So it makes me wonder, do I look different to them? Yeah, does does does young JJ is young J ao, is there a perception of me? Different or like their recognition and be different? Because Because I maybe talk and think so differently than I did when I was younger?

Melissa Albers  9:46  
Yep. Okay. That's a great example. Right? Yeah. That's very interesting.

JJ Parker  9:51  
And I think the like, if maybe you think back to like, even your high school friend group, maybe Haven't seen him in 1520 years fast forward and like, well, they're way different. Like something about them the you know, you start you kind of like, meet him at whatever your high school reunion, right? Yeah. Pick up some conversation. You're like, whoa, that's that's like a whole different person. I

Melissa Albers  10:19  
don't know what I'm here. Yeah, their life experience has altered who they were. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's good or bad, just different.

JJ Parker  10:27  
Just different right. And I it probably I would, I would think it happens to a lot of people. Well, actually, I've got some high school friends that literally seemed like exactly the same like they were in high school. And again, not good or bad. Yeah, like, it's actually like, fairly comforting. Yeah, in some way.

Melissa Albers  10:48  

JJ Parker  10:52  
But that's whether it's like a, it almost like I said, it's like almost like a comfort thing. It's like, I recognize them like they were 20 years ago.

Melissa Albers  11:01  
Oh, I love that you just use the word comfort because I think as human beings, we seek things that are comforting to us all the time. And if people if we can recognize certain bits of people that comfort us, that's a very, that would be part of a real tribal thing again, right? It's like, yeah, I am, I'm really down with this. You may have noticed that even in all of our conversations thus far, I've been a little quieter, because I've been interested to listen to your way of thinking about this topic. One of the things that so

JJ Parker  11:34  
you, you want to like you're interested in my, like, bullet point, analytical list of, hey, we're gonna break this down in this methodical way. Let's talk

Melissa Albers  11:44  
about how we recognize people and their energy. And I'm going to write out an analytical list. I think it's super interesting, though, I really am interested in your perspective. And primarily, the reason I am is because it's really different than mine. In this topic, it's so different than mine. So I'm super interested to hear how you break that down in your mind and how you think about it, because it's super unique to me.

JJ Parker  12:06  
So my next like my next bullet point, yeah. So we talked, we just talked about how, like the comfort, but the next one is like, how do people make us feel? Right? So when I was thinking about that idea, like, I was thinking about, like my mom, right? Like, my mom makes me feel a certain way. If she stopped making me feel that way. Would I recognize her as my mom? Oh, hmm. Right. I mean, she might physically be my mom's like, she might physically still look, I got my mom. But if she stopped, like, making me kind of like, feel like she does, which is like, awesome. Yeah. Like, how would that affect a relationship? Right? Like, is it possible that a lot of the way we recognize people is by how they make us feel?

Melissa Albers  13:04  
Interesting, right. Yeah, that's really interesting.

JJ Parker  13:07  
That person stopped making us feel a certain way. Would we not recognize, you know what I mean? Like, yeah,

Melissa Albers  13:13  
yeah. So that's an interesting perspective, I don't have that perspective. Because I believe that we make ourselves feel the way we feel that other people cannot make us feel any sort of way. But I understand what you're saying it's a little deeper than that. You're almost you're talking about the association of a really deep relationship right there. So that's a little more, it's a little harder to compare to common, you know, commonplace other relationships in our lives. But for me, I recognize people's way of being as familiar or not familiar, but objectively, I don't, I don't get so much of how they make me feel. I'm more noticing how how they feel as who they are. That makes sense. Sort of

JJ Parker  14:10  
No, we should talk about that.

Melissa Albers  14:13  
Let me give you an example. Here's Melissa diving off the deep end. You guys know, this is always when JJ goes out. Melissa, please keep the cookies on the bottom. Let's not get too whacked out. You know, my my experience with recognizing people? Well, first of all, you know, I've mentioned in previous pods that I've I moved 18 times over 20 times by the time I was 18 years old. I was in multiple school districts in different schools. And I was constantly forced to be in partnership with different people as constantly forced figuring out how to morph my personality to get along with people. And that took a lot of learning about reading people's energies. I mean, it really did and I wouldn't have called it that Back then, or maybe even five years ago, but that's what it was, you know, it was like reading people and understanding who what, what were the vibes? Maybe that's a better term we could even use, like, what are the vibes that they're kicking off, and then in and then, and then making a different decision how I would interplay with those people based on those vibes. In even today, like you're saying, recognize people and you gave physical examples, you started talking about sort of some of their thinking patterns. And now we're talking about sort of their energy, recognizing someone for all of who they are physically, emotionally, spiritually, mentally. I actually, every single coaching session that I do, the very first thing that I do is what I call I read their energy. Hmm. And it isn't even something that I am consciously aware of anymore, I consciously made the decision to start doing that a while ago, but it's unbelievable what you can notice when you are in observation, not judgment mode, like not not judging, just observing, like, I can tell by how that person is sitting, or moving, that their energy is lower, like, I can tell by their facial expressions, their body language, how that they're feeling good today, or that they feel anxious. Like, it's amazing how much you can recognize in someone. And then the more you get to know them, and you recognize, you know, their habits, their their physical habits, that mental habits, then you actually can recognize it even faster. So to me, it's really interesting to talk about someone's their energy signature. Mm hmm. Can you talk about your mom, and I still to this day, have never actually met your mom, but your mom is like, I want if I could pick a mom, I feel like I would pick her. Like, she's such a good, you know, so cute. Some of the stuff she does, she says on our social media platforms and stuff. Like, she's such a good mom. But her energy is her energy. Right? Hmm.

JJ Parker  17:04  
So So maybe, like, I kind of get what you're saying, like, I kind of came out of it. Like, how does someone make me feel? But maybe what I'm really talking about is that energy connection? Yeah, right.

Melissa Albers  17:18  
Well, and I, at the very beginning of our conversation, I don't even know if we were talking about how they made us feel one way or the other. I mean, we were using examples of that, because it's the easiest to describe this kind of topic when we use examples. But I think we do recognize people through a variety of ways. And I think it's really important to recognize that, you know, we do look at people's eyes, you know, we look at people's eyes or, you know, their clothing, their, their gestures, all of those things to recognize someone or or to understand who they are. I think we use this whole series of things at the same time.

JJ Parker  17:54  
Yeah. What? So let's, let's talk about like, here's what I'm curious about. I said, like, I recognize someone, by the way, they make me feel, huh, you said, I recognize someone by their, like, energy signature. Yeah, right. Yeah. I wonder if so let's talk about like, maybe, maybe I'm reading an energy signature, but I just don't really know that I'm doing that. And I just call that a feeling. Uh huh. Right. Yeah. My because I'm an unsophisticated energy. Worker.

Melissa Albers  18:38  
feles That is ridiculous. No, well, let me let me give

JJ Parker  18:44  
you I think that probably happens, right? Like, like, How many times have you been like, not you me, gone up to someone and just interacted with them in like, Hmm, something's like a little off, but I don't really know what it is. I can't really figure it out. Yeah, just like, just move on. Right or something. But, but maybe that's it right there. Like what's, what is that little nut? That nugget? Yeah, I right there.

Melissa Albers  19:13  
I love that. And I think that is us tuning into another person's energy. That's what that is. I mean, okay, like picture, a little girl on a bus, okay, gets on a bus. And she sits down to someone next to someone, and that someone has a bit of a dark darkness about them, and energy that's heavier. Not particularly nice. If it's a small child, a child will pick that up in two seconds and may even remove themselves and go sit somewhere else and not even think twice about it. Mm hmm. So I think we have this built in radar. And it's just a matter of if we have developed it are consciously aware that that radar exists, and that is what I would call at a soul level. I would call that at a much deeper level of knowingness. You know, that's our built in compass.

JJ Parker  20:04  
Yeah, that's really interesting. Like the child example is really interesting because I think a lot of us will have one of these gut feelings. Yes. Yeah. But then, like me my, like analytical brain, yes kicks in and start saying, you know, no, statistically I'm fine and yes or no. And we start thinking about, you know, ever we start, we're just like overanalyzing everything. Yes.

Melissa Albers  20:30  
Yeah. Yeah. And, and I think, too, like, even though you use the example earlier, I think you're right. Like when you said how someone makes me feel, I don't think that's exactly what you meant, now that we're talking this through, I think what you're recognizing is, I was recognizing who I was understanding who this person was, and I was noticing, it didn't make me feel very good. It doesn't mean that they were enforcing a feeling on you, it was just that you are picking up on it somehow. Yeah. I think that's super interesting. You know, like, even if you even if you have there been anybody, like where you haven't seen him for a really long time, and you see them and all of a sudden, you're, you're, you're really, really glad to see them. Like, there's a recognition and enthusiasm for seeing someone that you haven't seen for a long time. And the more you talk to them, and their natural energy signature comes out, you know, you start to go, oh, my gosh, I forgot about this, like, Oh, I really liked this person. Like you can start to remember the feelings, they start coming back just by what energy these people the person is emitting.

JJ Parker  21:40  
Oh, yeah. So then now you just went the other way on it. Right. Like, like that energy? And then your feelings about that. Yes. kicked in. Right. And now you're right. Recognizing that person? Yes. Through the feeling?

Melissa Albers  21:53  
Yes. Yes. Yeah, exactly. So that's, that's the part. So like, even in this whole topic, I think that we do recognize other people through a variety of senses. But I think that the senses that we recognize people are much, much more much deeper than just the physical attributes. And but you're right, when if you're a more analytical person, it's natural to go to those places that feel more familiar, we spend way more time in our heads than we do in our hearts. And I think the whole process of the work that you and I do is to help people bridge that and be working just as equally in our heart soul centered space than we do our headspace are certainly in partnership with each other as much as we possibly can.

JJ Parker  22:37  
So let me ask you this, how do we get better? So when we walk up to somebody we start, and we're gonna interact with them? How do we get better at recognizing, like their energy? And? And, like, at that moment, like how, yeah, you say you do that? I do like, like, how can we practice that a little bit. So

Melissa Albers  23:02  
I'm not going to be the person who knows all the answers, but I will share what I do. And this has worked for me really, really well. The first thing that I have done is I have removed my need for the person to be any certain way for me to be okay with them. So, and the only way I can do that is if I'm comfortable in my own skin. So I spent a lot of time not worrying about if I'm going to be loved or not loved in every exchange. And that sounds silly. But that's was a really, really hard thing. And I still sometimes I still work at that. But the reason it's so important for me to not worry about other people that much in terms of are they making me feel good or not, is because it allows me to be with those other people exactly as they are, and so much more happens that way. So I will if I noticed somebody really, really off. The first thing that I do is I recognize, oh, that person's seems off just like you were describing JJ exactly the same thing. My energy like my energy knowingness kicks up. My little gut reaction says something doesn't feel quite right. And so then I actually sort of make a decision that I am not going to allow whatever is going on within that person to enter into me, like this is not about me, this is about this other person. And I can still be with them, perhaps even support them. Listen, I can even I can choose to walk away if it's too much. But I can stay neutral and objective all the time. And then it allows me to see with clear lens what I'm looking out at. Another way to say it is if you're judging yourself harshly, everything that you look at will be through the lens of judgment. You're loving on yourself a lot. The lens that you're looking at is in love. Whatever it is that you are looking in, at yourself, is what You are seeing the rest of the world in and that applies to every other person and their energy that you're intermingling with. Hmm.

JJ Parker  25:07  
That's like, I call it like projection, like you're projecting. Yeah. Like instead of receiving the signals, you're projecting out your, your like your mood, right? Your energy. Yeah. So you're saying like, hey, the the key to recognize it other people is stop projecting your own Yes. Yeah. energy out.

Melissa Albers  25:30  
Yep. Or needling up? Yep.

JJ Parker  25:33  
That's like a forcefield or something. Yeah, like, if you're projecting too much, is preventing you from receiving?

Melissa Albers  25:39  
Yes, yeah. Or if other people are projecting too much, because they have insecurities that they need you to make them feel good about. That's not your job. Right? That's not your job. So my coach actually has told me in the past, when you have to have some really challenging tough conversations, picture yourself with almost a plexiglass between you and that other person. And you can see clearly, and you can be supportive and helpful, but you don't soak in any of that stuff. Isn't that interesting to think about that?

JJ Parker  26:09  
That is super interesting. And, and in the topic of recognizing people, right at this deeper level, we want to recognize their energy. What a what a great idea I had, I had not thought about the idea that, like, what I might be projecting out could be preventing me from sensing what's happening around me,

Melissa Albers  26:38  
I just think we're, I think as human beings, we want to be in partnership with other human beings so much. And that's fine, except that it oftentimes comes at our own expense. This is at this place where we start to give ourselves away or we act, the actor self that we talk about, we become the actor self. And people are doing that all the time. And half the people that you're interacting with at any given time are in their actor selves. So they're emitting certain energies that aren't completely who they really are, for whatever reason, maybe they're tired, or they don't feel well, or they're, they're feeling sad, or whatever the case may be. And, and too often, then we pick that up as our own. And we take it personally. And that's when everything gets really messy. Whereas if we can just recognize where people are, because we've done the work to recognize who we are, and be comfortable with that. It makes things a lot easier. It really does make everything easier.

JJ Parker  27:39  
That sounds good. Yeah, it doesn't.

Unknown Speaker  27:41  
Let's do that.

JJ Parker  27:42  
Every time I do that. I just have made me think about, like, so many things in our like, in our human experiences, like we have these. What it's like well intentioned actions. Yeah. That turned out to be to not serve us very well. Right. It's a funny paradox of being a human. Yes,

Melissa Albers  28:05  
it is. We're flawed humans are flawed. This is what I call job security. Or all flawed, and it's a beautiful thing, actually.

JJ Parker  28:19  
Well, I am going to be intentional about like checking my own energy, and the next couple interactions I have with people and and really try to stop projecting and start receiving a little bit more and maybe

Melissa Albers  28:39  
even rather than stop projecting, like just ask yourself, What am I projecting? Like, that would be interesting. I wonder what I project. Like I actually that's a really good thing. I think I've got a couple of calls today and I'm gonna be thinking about that. super interesting.

JJ Parker  28:54  
All right. That's our homework. That's our homework.

Melissa Albers  28:57  
We hope that you've enjoyed today's episode. Our mission is to help people become happier and more effective by gaining insight into their own thoughts and feelings. We'd love your support. First, share this podcast with anyone you think might enjoy it. Second, leave us a rating or review on your favorite podcast safe. This helps others discover the podcast so we can reach more people. And third, sign up for our newsletter at the self awareness journey.com. This will help us communicate better with you and build our community. Thank you so much for joining us in the self awareness journey. We'll see you next week.

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Discussed in this episode

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Meet your guides

JJ Parker

JJ Parker is a serial entrepreneur passionate about building creative strategy, efficient operations, and unique marketing perspectives. Parker got his start as a student at The Minneapolis Institute of Art, and soon after launched his first company Tightrope Media Systems (TRMS) with a high school buddy in 1997.

Melissa Albers

Melissa is passionate about developing people’s self-awareness and ability to positively interact with others. She focuses on the importance of building influence, and highlights the most important relationship we have is with self first. Ms. Albers speaks on leadership and self-awareness, and has shared the stage with John Maxwell (Leadership Author and Speaker), Lee Cockerell (Exec VP of Disney) and Les Brown (Motivational Speaker) to name a few.

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