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Surprise

 

Explanations > Emotions > Surprise

Surprise is | Triggering surprise | So what

 

Surprise is

Surprise happens when we have predicted something will happen and that it does not happen as expected. It also happens when things which were not predicted occur.

When we are surprised, we try to explain why we were surprised, often without blaming ourselves for being unable to predict what happened.

Interestingly, surprise is unusual in that it is a relatively neutral emotion, being neither pleasant nor unpleasant (although subsequent emotions may be so). Confusion is a similar emotion in its base is neutral. Both have the value in triggering a search for more information to explain the unexpected situation and hence determine whether it is a threat or opportunity.

A surprised person often raises their eyebrows, opens their mouth and freezes for a moment or so.

Triggering surprise

To surprise someone, act in a certain way for a while then change how you behave with no warning. Thus, for example, a man might be an 'average' spouse, then without warning take his wife out to a sumptuous dinner. However, she might then wonder what he has done wrong!

So what?

Surprise is a very useful signal that tells you the person was not expecting something. If their surprise surprises you, then this says you are not fully in tune with them.

Use pleasant surprise to hook people into your ideas. When they are surprised thus, they may well be more ready to accept other thoughts (how often has a bunch of flowers been followed by the real request?).

Surprise also can be used to shock a person into confession, for example by confronting them with seeming evidence when they thing they have gotten away with it.

See also

The need to predict, Formulating intent

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