The Value of Improving Your Emotional Literacy

The more I study Emotional Intelligence, the more I see the value in improving your emotional literacy.

So what does that mean?

Well, emotional literacy means being able to identify, name and understand emotions.   This in turn helps you understand what drives your behaviour and the behaviour of others.

If we look at our emotions as data, then the more literate we are, the more capable we are of analyzing and understanding that data.   For example;  you wake up one morning and you have a feeling in the pit of your stomach.  But you are not quite sure whether it’s excitement (you have a big presentation to deliver today) or fear, or anxiety.  You sit with it for a moment and decide that it’s actually a mix of all three, due to the day ahead.  Now you are cooking with gas.  You talk to your significant other about it and just labelling the emotions takes some of the power out of their potency and you feel a bit better.

Then as you go into your day you can manage those emotions by tuning into how you are feeling at several points throughout the day.  Before you give a big presentation you may wish to tune into that feeling in the pit of your stomach and relieve it with some deep breathing and a walk around the block.  You can see it as fuel to help you perform at your best and not as a disadvantage.

Every time we identify, notice, label and understand our emotions we are increasing our self-awareness.  Emotions Drive People.  If you want to understand people better, understanding emotions is a sure-fire way to be more successful.

In his book ‘Emotional Equations’ Chip Conley came up with a formula to help him better understand his own emotions and those of other people.    Some of his equations for example are:

Emotions = Life
Regret = Disappointment + Responsibility
Authenticity = Self-Awareness x Courage
Integrity = Authenticity x Invisibility x Reliability

What a brilliant way to better understand your emotions!  I highly recommend this book.  It is guaranteed to improve your emotional literacy.

Another great resource to help improve your emotional literacy is Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions.  Created by psychologist Robert Plutchik he stated that there are 8 basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, anticipation, anger, and disgust.  He created a wheel to illustrate similar and opposite emotions to the 8 basic emotions – as well as that, he demonstrated the relationships between each of the different types of emotions.   I recommend checking it out if you are not familiar with it.   Six Seconds have a wonderful model that you can access here:

Emotional literacy is a key component of successful leadership and I hope you found this useful.   If you would like any further details on how to improve your Emotional Intelligence please feel free to email me at

Related Posts

Leave a comment