Emotional intelligence may be rooted in a solid emotional vocabulary

Posted on: November 27, 2007

I continue to explore the issue of an emotional vocabulary. Most recently I was watching a history of man on the Discovery Channel in which the issue of language was discussed.  I was taken back to how humans use language to communicate with self and the world and more specifically the development of an emotional vocabulary.

Without self talk humans cannot fully appreciate their own emotional space. Without a strong emotional vocabulary when we are impacted by the world, all that is felt is that undifferentiated “gut feeling” that may be described as feeling good or bad. This description of our emotions however is not enough to understand and meet our emotional needs.

Building an emotional vocabulary is the first step to understanding your emotional world, meeting the specific emotional need and hence controlling anger. Anger is often the result of unmet needs but to meet theses needs we must first know what they are.

What is needed is a more differentiated set of emotions. For example one client told me that he felt stuck, not trapped. He noted that feeling stuck to him was being aware that he had options but not knowing what to choose and when to choose. Feeling trapped was to him lacking options. It is this state of differentiation of our emotions that is often helpful in teasing out what we really feeling and meeting the precise need

For more on the importance of an emotional vocabulary click here to visit my online store to take a look at my new book -Your emotional Profile.

Carlos Todd, LPC, NCC, CAMF

President of the American Association of Anger Management Providers

Anger Management/Executive Coaching of Charlotte, North Carolina





5 Responses to "Emotional intelligence may be rooted in a solid emotional vocabulary"

[…] You can read the rest of this blog post by going to the original source, here […]

[…] this is a block quote from Carlos R. Todd, on his weblog anger on my mind: from post “Emotional intelligence may be rooted…”. […]

hello mister Todd… i have block quote you for my post:

(i do not know how to do ping backs) please contact me if this is intrusive… thanks for this great post! –chris

I agree that word choice is a key to communication and working towards true understanding. Words are tools, and things are easier to fix when you have the right tool. My children are three and in a very interesting learning stage. They become easily frustrated and angered when they can’t get something to work just so. I constantly repeat, “Use your words so I can understand you. Are your frustrated, confused, mad? Can you stop and look at that differently?” In observing adults, I also find that the use of calmly worded questioning can help identify what the feeling is, and can diffuse a situation before it escalades. If there is a safe and trusting environment, words are wonderful.

I agree that word choice is very important. Words are tools, and having the right tool makes any job easier. My three year olds are at a very interesting learning stage. They are easily frustrated and use grunts to get out anger. I am constantly questioning them, “Are you frustrated? Mad? Confused? Can you use your words to tell me what is the matter? Can you look at that differently and try something else?” I find that this really helps them. This isn’t a far cry from adults. Calm questioning can help a person find the words they are looking for, regardless of age.

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