This is a question that you almost certainly heard this morning when you got into the office. Possibly a dozen times. What was your answer? Probably a one syllable answer given automatically, without much thought. And, fair enough. You don’t need to share with the whole world your inner world of feelings. But, what about inside your own mind? How many words do you use to describe your emotions to yourself?
If you’re like most people, you probably tend to stick to broad categories: angry, sad, happy, good… tired. Are you angry or are you outraged, resentful, annoyed, frustrated or maybe even embarrassed? Are you simply happy or are you thankful, merry, eager or invigorated?
One of the great things about English is that we have so many words for what we’re feeling. And, when you start using more specific language, you can start to really understand what’s going on for you, pinpoint things that trigger your many emotional responses and enjoy the full breadth of emotional flavours that are part of being human.
And, when you start to be better able to experience your own emotional landscape, you will find yourself better able to identify how others are feeling. Is Mary sad or is she disappointed with how things have gone this month. There’s not much you can do for a “sad” person other than try to listen. But, if you can pick up on Mary’s underlying feeling of disappointment, you can relate to her situation better and be more effective in empathizing with her. If you are a leader or manager, start stretching your emotional vocabulary because this is a key way you will ensure Mary, your team member, feels heard and understood by her boss. If you want hard-working, trustworthy and engaged employees, you want employees who feel heard by their boss.