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Emotional Intelligence: Develop your emotional vocabulary

Do you struggle to share your feelings and emotions? Are you unsure about the words to use when it comes to emotions? Developing your emotional intelligence starts with developing your emotional vocabulary.

We all have emotions and feelings and for some people it is hard to understand them and even harder to express them. Explaining what is going on in our mind can be challenging.

Yet, it is essential to be able to share your feelings and express your emotions to develop better and stronger relationships.

Putting words on how you feel will also help you deal with your emotions and feelings. It is always easier to deal with a mood or a feeling when you understand it better.

“Feelings are mental expression of the body states.”

Antonio D’Amasio

How to define emotions, feelings, moods and thoughts


An emotion is a reflex reaction of the brain based on the decoding of stimuli received from the outside. It lasts for about 6 seconds.

This is a physiological and a chemical process.

An emotion is the natural way to react to our environment. Emotions lead to fast reactions that can help us survive challenging situations.

We can physically feel an emotional-reaction occurring in our brain; this is a chemical reaction. Our body reacts to these emotions with higher, more prevalent brain activity, blood flow, or facial micro-expressions.


A feeling is a mental reaction to our emotions.

Feelings happen right after emotions; they involve cognitive input, that are usually subconscious. Feelings can’t be measured precisely.

A feeling is a mental reaction to the emotion(s) we have. We have a feeling when we give meaning to our emotions, then we react and think about a situation. A feeling usually lasts longer than an emotion, though It varies from one person to another.

You can be happy (emotion) and feel alive, feel good, feel loved (feelings).​​

You can be sad (emotion) and feel alone, feel cold, feel destroyed (feelings).


A mood is more generalised. Moods are not influenced by specific events but by several factors such as the environment (weather, people around, location and venue), physiological factors (health, exercise, diet sleep) and our mental state (what we are going through, the emotions we experienced). Moods last longer than emotions and can potentially last for days.


A thought is a mental process triggered by all the different sources. Thoughts are the thinking process happening in our mind by the coordination of various activities of the brain. Our thoughts are usually influenced by our mood, emotions and feelings.

The different emotions


You feel fear when you are unable to face a difficult situation. At work you can have the fear of being ignored, the fear of rejection or the fear of failure. Fear can bring tense situations at the office.

How do you overcome fear?

First, admit that you are afraid. You can be afraid of something or someone. Admitting it is the first step! It requires courage however it's worth it.

Now, how do you deal with fear?

If we take the example of the fear of failure; instead of letting the fear hold you back, transform it into motivation. Don’t let the fear stop you and seek for creative solutions to deal with potential mistakes.


Shame is like feeling anger towards one’s self. You blame and shame yourself about something you did or did not, said or didn’t say.

It leads you to feel ashamed.

How do you overcome shame?

Stop blaming yourself and find solutions! Sometimes we worry for nothing; we think we’ve made a mistake and start blaming ourselves for no reason. The only thing we can do is be transparent and engage in open communication with the involved people to explain ourselves.


Feeling sad at work can be dangerous: it can isolate you. You can feel sad about something that happened in your personal life or at the office. In both situations it is important to share your thoughts and feelings. Not saying anything is a risk to explode during a meeting or to isolate yourself at the office.

How do you overcome sadness?

First, you need to find someone you trust to speak to; it can be at your office, a friend, someone from your family or anyone. Explaining what is happening can help you solve the situation faster, it will also help you feel better.


Happiness is an emotion left behind at work! When you are satisfied with someone's work, you better show it! Express your satisfaction simply. It is always good for the self-confidence and it can bring a bit of happiness at the office.

How do you show and share your happiness?

Showing happiness is important, especially when it is thanks to someone or something. You can simply say:

“I appreciate your work, thank you very much”; “I love working with you”; “You are a good leader/boss”


Your anger can be passive or aggressive. When you feel anger, it is essential to change things and to transform the situation.

How do you overcome anger?

You need to take a step back, take some time to calm down if necessary and then express yourself. Be sure to stick to the point, clearly and without violence. Let the other person talk first, listen to them, then explain the facts and share your point of view.

Don’t let your emotions control your communication!

“You are usually late, I am tired of it.”; “I want this to change.”

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