Home Recommended Reading Workshops About RSS

Increase Your Emotional IQ

If one wants to be a good communicator, writer, and conflict resolver or peace maker, one will need to increase their emotional IQ.

To start increasing emotional IQ, one needs to increase one’s emotional vocabulary and definitions. In the Good Old USA, most individuals use the same 7 to 10 words over and over again until they have locked in meanings – words convey that one is happy, depressed or angry.

book with letters

Most parents teach their children emotions by modeling, word usage and pointing out how to control emotions rather than use emotions. “Big boys don’t cry, aren’t you a big boy?” “Use your anger and win the ball game!”

Emotions are our early warning systems and twitter messengers of what we are thinking and how we are going to respond. We need to define those messages in order to act and proceed, and to be thoughtful about how we proceed.

Emotions are based on the primitive responses flight or fight and safety or contentment.

It appears to me that many individuals have not sorted out their emotions, or developed working definitions for themselves and thus do not know how to act or proceed. If they cannot do this for their own selves how can they teach their children?

I grew up in a household where control and not revealing emotions was the highest ideal. I never heard my parents argue or have a problem-solving discussion. Having and showing emotions made one the “black sheep” and vulnerable.

When one goes to the doctor with a pain, the doctor is going to give you a dozen words to describe that pain. The doctor is working on getting a specific definition to the problem – a sharp pain gives a different message than a throbbing or tightness causing pain definition.

Emotions give you a pathway back to storage lockers in your brain. The larger volume in the storage locker the wider range of responses one receives and having a larger group of responses creates more flexibility in one’s thinking and perceiving. An abundance of tools and attitudes to assist in problem solving, or in just getting a new attitude; one is emotionally wealthy.

If one goes on a good brisk walk or does something physical (other than hitting, kicking, biting, etc.) one will find that the emotions are sorted and more useful in a much quicker fashion and one will have much more command over their emotions.

Emotions are more about what’s going on inside of you than what is happening around you or being delivered by someone else – “in your face.”

I keep two lists, about 200 words on each list, of emotional words beside me when I am writing or counseling and I attempt to define new words as a writing exercise about every other week. One list is of words which help define the emotions around NOT getting needs fulfilled. The other list is when needs ARE being fulfilled.

Having these lists available when working with children and sharing helps them to learn how they are feeling in any given situation and dramatically increases their emotional IQ.

Some Examples from the NOT list:
Disquieted, disgruntled, animosity, hostile, heavy, rancorous, weary, inert, lethargy, vexed, edgy, humdrum, chagrined – Do you get the idea?

Some Examples from the ARE list:

Involved, peaceful, absorbed, effervescent, delighted, mellow, radiant, intrigued, enthusiastic, blissful, hopeful, satisfied – I think this is a good sampling?

Now I would like to offer a challenge to you – Give me an emotional vocabulary word that you like to use – one from each category and then write the definition. This will add to my list and yours and expand the sample already suggested.

Make up a new word and define it so we know its meaning and depth.

One might find that participating in this exercise opens up new thinking or revives old pathways into your thinking…You might wish to write about those emotions in your own private space and not share in such a public forum? That will increase your emotional IQ also.

I look forward to reading your words and definitions. Here we go…

Related Posts:
Book Review: My Stroke of Insight
90 Seconds of Anger 90 Seconds of Happiness
Discussing Fear

22 Responses to “Increase Your Emotional IQ”

  1. Dot Says:

    Funny, that’s just what I was talking about in my comment to your previous post that I just wrote — learning to have an emotional range. When we went to couples therapy, the psychologist told my ex-husband that he had no language for his feelings. From my observation, his emotions were anger and a need for sex, which isn’t even an emotion, but he seemed to feel it was a tool to handle his emotions.

    OK, here are mine:

    Irritation – A mild feeling of annoyance, kind of like a tickle or a slight itch, at something unpleasant that’s happening.

    Feeling of well-being – A physical and emotional feeling that all is right with your world.

    Dots last blog post..About Your Business

  2. Jannie Funster Says:

    PEACEFUL: feeling like One with the leaves on the trees as they accept the sun’s love and enjoy the squirrels scampering in them.

    Edgy: feeling like I’ve had little sleep, too much coffee and everything bothers me, even my clothes feel irritating and I could snap at anyone who comes near me.

    I think knowing what we are feeling and accepting it is the first step towards working through our emotions. My friend and I were talking just last week how about for years she felt sad, sad, sad ALL the time and in therapy she realized how much anger she had been repressing.

    Do you find in your own home with your own children you’ve brought them up differently than your controlled childhood, if you dont’ mind me asking? And if so, how has that been? And if this is too personal, please e-mail me. Or just tell me to buzz off :)

    (My up bringing was full of anger and showing emotion. I’ve had a lot of work to do on myself but I think I’m turning out okay. :) )

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Doing It

  3. Mark Says:

    This is a great exercise. Thanks for sharing. I will be playing with this later today.

    Marks last blog post..Rich Man, Poor Man and Our Spiritual Journey

  4. patricia Says:

    It is so nice to find your comments here and I am working on a series here – but want them to be stand alone posts in the long run. I am teaching one of my workshops on Nonviolent Communications as developed by Dr. Marshall Rosenberg.
    I have to learn how to use my emotions inch by inch so to speak.

    I needed to work on teaching my children emotions, because I just burst into anger and then had to control myself. I believe many men have extremely low emotional IQs – my partner goes into avoidance at any hint of discord…given time he will come back to the conversation, but never to a rant.

    Thanks for you words and definitions

  5. patricia Says:

    Thank you for the words and definitions – they are lovely.
    Since about every 90 seconds we are going through a different emotion or recharging the batteries on the one we just experienced – increasing vocabulary (I sometimes carry a list in my pocket and run through it before opening my mouth) is vitally important to understanding who you are and what you are feeling.

    I believe I chose pastoral counseling as a career because I knew I needed to learn how to use my emotions and how to resolve conflict in a usable, productive fashion. I became a certified mediator also and now teach people as often as I am able about Nonviolent Compassionate Communications.

    When I discovered Karl Jung is was like heaven on earth and I felt like a whole person, because there is one whole category of his 4 primary groups who greet the world and interface in the world with their emotions.

    I don’t mind talking about it at all, I grew up an emotionally illiterate person and just had angry outbursts mostly against myself and how stupid I was when I just could not stand it any more. I DID NOT WANT TO TEACH MY CHILDREN THIS BEHAVIOR. As a matter of fact, I did not wish to get married or have children because I did not think I could even master control.

    Instead by educating myself and my children we have a much better ability to use our emotions to create a much more connected (head and heart) discussion – we are not perfect by any means and my partner avoids any kind of conflict…but will now come back to the discussion after he has an opportunity to think about it.

    I am doing a series here as I replied to Dot, on NVC and the training I have had – in I hope stand alone segments. I think Amazon.com will pop up the main Rosenberg book on Nonviolent Communication which is an excellent resource – my friend Liv and other teachers have put together a workbook for children and are busy teaching teachers NVC all the time.

    It helped my children to have a practice group and that helped me. I believe that Dr. Rosenberg could end the conflict in Gaza
    It is such powerful stuff…

    Your kiddo is at the perfect age…piano lessons, sport, art and nonviolent communications…just a suggestion

  6. patricia Says:

    Thank you for coming on by and let me know how your play comes out will you? I need more vocabulary for my lists

  7. Ruth Says:

    Lethargy: Feeling blocked and unable to accomplish anything and yet feeling like there is something I must accomplish or I will be a worthless human being. Block may be from lack of energy or lack of emotional energy or lack of motivation or from too much guilt.

    Mellow: Being content to be or not be involved in doing something. To feel like I’m doing just enough but not too much and finding some personal fulfillment. Nothing dramatic.

    Ruths last blog post..Somewhere, Someone is Meditating or Intending Actions So You’ll Find Happiness

  8. patricia Says:

    Thank you for coming by good definitions I will add them to the list.
    Like the title of your new post…I’ll pop on over and check it out!
    Thank you

  9. Henie Says:


    What a wonderful exercise! Thank you so much!

    Rebellious, Worthless, Lazy

    Inspiration, Creative, Wonderful, Delightful, Joy, Serenity, Influential…man, I can’t stop but I will!

    I cannot wait to return and visit so I can truly savor the contents of your site! And…thank you for lending your presence on mine!

    Back sooner than later,

    Henies last blog post..PLEASE VOTE FOR ME!!!

  10. patricia Says:

    Welcome and glad to know you will be back….I enjoy reading your comments on other sites and your great photographs and insight

    Thank you

  11. Davina Says:

    Hi Patricia. It’s neat to read other people’s definitions. Each definition adds a new flavour to the word.

    Weary – Empty, silent, unwelcome surrender.

    Radiant – Self-aware with glowing appreciation, joy and enthusiasm.

    Davinas last blog post..Guest Post: Emotions — The Universal Language

  12. patricia Says:

    This has really been a fun exercise and I am so pleased to keep adding words to my emotional IQ list.

    Thank you for your kind comments and definitions too

  13. Sara Says:


    Someone on Davina’s blog mentioned that you and I were of like minds about our recent posts. I really enjoyed this one. I loved when you said, “Emotions are our early warning systems and twitter messengers of what we are thinking.”

    I’m thinking of your challenges. So far I can only come up with a made up word. Mine is “connectversations,” meaning those special conversations you have with someone where you really connect with each other. I know it’s kind of long…I’ll have to work on that!

    Saras last blog post..A Facebook challenge with a twist!

  14. patricia Says:

    Yep I think we were on the same wave link this week in our posts.
    I enjoyed your writing on Davina’s blog too.

    Yes communications with full connections – great word as we throw it around a bit it might makes it’s own shorter version?


  15. Jannie Funster Says:

    Coming from a home where hitting was the norm every day and my parents still to this day (and I am not dishonoring them, but telling facts,) see nothing wrong with that kind of “communication.” I have managed to break the cycle of physical and emotional abuse. I knew as teen if I ever had a child there would be no way I’d hit them. (Except when Kelly was 3 and 4 respectively I did slap her on the butt, which terrified me. But I forgave me and went on.)

    I have read a LOT of books on parenting, my favorite being Haim Ginnot’s “Between Parent & Child,” and I continue to seek inspiration and tips, dealing with my anger has been my biggest challenge. I accept it and let it pass.

    As time passes I generally feel better and better about being a mom.

    Kelly goes to a nice peaceful school too, where there is no hitting.

    Speaking of whom, I’m going to join her now for her TV show!

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..Kalyani’s Magic Fuzzy Pants

  16. patricia Says:

    I think you must be a wonderful mom and how smart you were to figure out that you needed to break the cycle – and then breaking it. I love Ginnot’s book too and keep reading and learning as I want to keep connections and communications good between my adult children and myself.

    Kelly is just a reflection of your joy and loving care, wrapped up in your lovely parenting.

    Thank you for the good song!

    I heard a Counselor say one time “when we know better and do better, those are the best life lessons, but it takes learning what is better to do better.”

    Made sense to me…and then there is forgiveness …

  17. Diane Says:

    Discomfort- whem a situation arises where I am not in control of another persons action and they are acting angry and blowing up at me or someone else.
    peaceful- when I feel at ease within me regardless of surrondings.

    This is an interesting exercise.

    I love the expansion of emotional words list. It defines the fine lines within us all. It gives greater useful language to express the feelings that can come up within our lives.

    I love Jung too. I remember reading his work my first year in college. Freud was less than emotive to me but Jung engaged me fully and hit the mark for me on so many more levels. I love reading new works from others who were inspired by his work.

  18. patricia Says:

    Thank you for your good words and definitions…
    I think emotions are a part of the READY….of conflict resolution as in Ready – Aim – Fire….

    and with out expanding them our supply of Ready is greatly diminished..

    Thank you for all you welcome comments

  19. Jannie Funster Says:

    Thanks, Patricia. I have not really divulged the negative aspects of my upbringing to other bloggers ( I feel very safe here with your, and of course you are a healer. And very knowing. And wise.) Anyone can read my comment here and may one day but I feel no shame in any of my truths. And my parents, God love them , who are soooo wonderful in soooo many ways were only acting out how they were raised. They did a great job in many ways. Plus I have had the benefit of education and coming to parenthood at a “older” age.

    Yes, forgiveness on both sides. All in the past now.

    I am lucky also I can say “I’m sorry,” and mean it. And I am always examining my behavior and trying to sweep out my cobwebby corners.

    It is all good.

    Jannie Funsters last blog post..In a nutshell

  20. patricia Says:

    I have never found anyone to be totally awful or totally perfected in their behaviors and an anthropologist in the area once said to her son,”I did the very best I could with the knowledge that I had at the time, when I learned to do it better it did. My intention was always that you would know that I loved you deeply.”

    I keep that phrase in my line of vision most of the time.

    It is all good the lessons, the actions the thoughts.
    You are one amazing woman. thank you

  21. Kay Lilland Says:

    Your phrase “emotional IQ” reminds me of a book by TV’s Divorce Court judge (Lynn Toler) who, before shewas a TV judge published “My Mother’s Rules: A practical Guide to Becoming an Emotional Genius” It’s worth a stop at the library.

  22. Patricia Says:

    I think the judge was right. Counselors and Mediators are discovering that large numbers of people have no emotional knowledge or how to use their emotions. It is like denying one has feet!

    I think the current generation has been served a huge disadvantage but not understanding and thinking the cold wealthy image in the movies is success – now there is a lot of 30 somethings looking for meaning in life.
    .-= Patricia´s last blog ..Embracing This Change =-.