EQ Series – How do you build your emotional literacy?

Build Your Emotional Literacy

When I first saw the magnificent Christmas dessert (above), my sister Paula so delightfully prepared for our Christmas dinner celebration, it stirred a number of emotions in an instant!

Admiring the mouth-watering extravaganza came easily! Accurately identifying the feelings and memories it invoked and expressing my joy and life-long lust for ice-cream was a breeze!

So what is emotional literacy?

Emotional literacy is a basic building block of EQ and it’s the ability to accurately identify and express our feelings appropriately.

It tends to be relatively easy to notice, name and understand our feelings in special moments like the Christmas dessert example, because we can identify their causes and effects. It may be a little more complex in everyday situations.

In addition, our own emotional data is just one side of emotional literacy. ‘Reading’ the emotional data of others is the other side.

What can you do to enhance your emotional literacy?

3 simple practices for building your emotional literacy 

  1. Regularly tune in – recognise and name your feelings
    Make a practice of asking yourself what you are feeling at various times during the course of your day.
    For example: when you wake up / when you’re getting ready for work / when you’re travelling to work / when you arrive at work / at regular intervals / ask yourself: “What am I feeling right now?”
    Recognise and label the feeling. If it is a negative feeling, you have the opportunity to let it go and choose another more empowering feeling. It’s as simple as that!
  1. Express what you are feeling
    When we greet each other we tend to use a common question such as: “How are you?” Some standard answers are: “Fine thanks”, “Good thanks” or “Not too bad.” Rather than giving an automatic answer, practice tuning in to what you are really feeling at the time, and express that feeling. Ensure you use a ‘feeling’ word to describe it versus a ‘thinking’ word.
  1. ‘Read’ the emotional data of others
    Take on the practice of being present and listen to connect with everyone you meet. This can be done with anyone in person or you can practise while watching TV. Rather than being a spectator in the game of life, a movie, sporting match or whatever you’re watching, become a player on the court by getting into reading the world of the other person … which includes their emotional data.
    I love watching grand slam tennis matches and can often share what the emotions of the players are by ‘reading’ their emotional data. A recent example was when I shared that a player was about to cry while being attended to by the trainer … which was quickly matched by the announcer expressing the same thing. My partner Nicholas wonders how I know this!
    Just practise ‘reading’ the emotional data of others and you will build your Emotional Intelligence competence and enhance your performance.

Stay tuned for more posts in this EQ Series.

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