terry lige emotional vocabulary

Do you have an Emotional Vocabulary?

Do you have an emotional vocabulary? This is probably not a question you have been asked, however, it may be one of the most important questions you need to answer if you want to be an effective communicator.

I think that everyone of us have had that experience in a conversation when you believe you have explained yourself so well that there is no chance that the person you are talking to could possibly misunderstand you. And yet, the person you are talking to looks at you as if you are from another planet. In this case there is a huge disconnect between the person speaking and the person listening. A big reason for this disconnect has to do with language. And no, I am not talking about different cultural languages like English and French. I am talking about temperament languages. So, what do I mean?

What I am talking about is the difference between an objective language that comes from our head and a subjective language that comes from the heart.

When faced with a conflict, some of us default to our objectivity, logic and reason to express ourselves. I do not want to get too caught up in stereotyping, but I often see the men utilizing this kind of approach in communication. Objective communicators believe they have a plan that will fix the problem and all they need is the person who is listening to understand, consent and support. When challenged about those strategies they will revert to long explanations and justifications for why they see it this way. It is so clear in their mind; and, that is the problem. A heart driven individual needs someone to communicate with them through their heart as well as their head, or, there will be disconnect and misunderstanding.

Emotional Intelligence is my ability to connect to my heart and my emotions and speak out of that place. It is my willingness to be emotionally vulnerable and be seen as a whole person. EI is that ability to transcend logic and reason and to connect with others in an emotional and intuitive way. It is that ability to interpret all the subtle intangible messages that a person is sending when you are communicating with them. This is where an objective head person often gets lost. They are so stuck in their position that they are not aware of the intangible messages they are receiving and then end up not listening to the words they are hearing. And I get it; some of you have the ability to do that and are a great examples of emotional intelligence, and yet, there are others who believe they have it and do it but their relationship outcomes in both personal and professional lives indicates they have no idea. That just leads to the proverbial, “I don’t get it I’m a nice guy, why am I getting this kind of response?”

The Importance of an Emotional Vocabulary

If you really want to develop emotional intelligence and want to connect with others in a heart way, then a great place to begin is to develop an emotional vocabulary. A person who has an emotional vocabulary identifies emotions when speaking about them. Often, we will describe feelings when we are actually talking about thoughts. This is a point of real disconnect in a conversation. Here is an example of what I am talking about. “As I am talking to you about this, I do not feel that you will understand what I am saying.”  I am not identifying any feeling in this sentence, I am describing a thought. Here is another way of saying this sentence utilizing emotional vocabulary, “As I am talking to you about this, I feel skeptical, inhibited and anxious that you will not understand what I am saying.”

When I make the choice to identify my feelings, I give myself permission to feel them. And, a connection to my feelings allows others to connect with me. It is this kind of connection that makes effective communication possible.

I have a handout on Positive and Negative Emotional Words that I would be happy to pass on to you if you want to begin developing a much more complete emotional vocabulary.

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