What is EI? Articles

What is EI? - Article categories


« 7. EI Competency 2: Emotional expression at work »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute, accredited MSCEIT consultant.

Can you express your emotions clearly and safely at work?

It is a key component of emotional intelligence. On the Genos Emotional Intelligence model, for instance, the second of its seven dimensions is "emotional expression".

Your levels of emotional intelligence on this dimension will be influenced by your skills on dimension one: "emotional self-awareness". It is very difficult to express your emotions clearly if you don't know you have them or what they are!

It does matter, however, that you can express both "positive" and "negative" emotions skillfully if you want to build trust between yourself and others at work.

In this article you will find:

  • A definition of emotional expression.
  • The aspects I consider to be involved in this dimension.  
  • The advantages of your having high level skills in emotional expression at work.
  • The disadvantages of your having low level skills in emotional expression at work.

How high is your emotional intelligence? Take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT) to find out and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green. Click here to find out how.

More information on the Mayer Salovey emotional intelligence model.

Definition of emotional expression

The skill of expressing one's own emotions effectively and clearly.

There are many aspects to this. For example, it may mean:

  • Being able to identify accurately which emotion you have rather than using a vague or generalised description. For example, you may be able to differentiate between different forms of anger and know when you feel resentful, bitter, cheated, irritated, indignant, put-down, powerless or some other related emotion. Emotional intelligence is backed up by an extensive vocabulary of feeling words, all of which are relevant to this dimension.
  • Being able to choose the best way to express an emotion. Emotional intelligence is not about dumping your emotions on other people.
  • Being able to use a variety of forms of expression, such as being able to express your feelings in writing, paint your feelings, verbally describe your feelings to someone else, let out your feelings in a private place, and so on.
  • Being able to express the feelings clearly and openly rather than hinting, implying or hoping that someone will work it out. It can mean actually being able to name the feeling and then finding the courage to say specifically how you feel.
  • Having an extensive vocabulary of feeling words that you can draw on and use quickly. I have read a list on the internet of over 3000 emotion words in the English language, how many do you use? The more you can accurately use the clearer you will be, and your emotional intelligence will be skilled in this dimension.
  • Being able to initiate a discussion around how you feel and not waiting to be asked.
  • Being able to express a full range of emotions, from grief, disappointment, anxiety, fear, fury, anger, and disgust through to love, affection, pride, determination, joy, enthusiasm and happiness. Emotional intelligence and emotional expression is not just about the so called "negative" or unpleasant emotions nor about the "positive" emotions or pleasant ones. It is the whole lot!
  • Being able to choose to whom you express your emotions and when, rather than the emotion taking you over and your bursting into tears or banging your fist in an important meeting. It is not about being emotional. It is about expressing your emotions with intelligence.

Want to do the MSCEIT to measure your emotional intelligence? It is the gold-standard ability mesaure. To find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green, click here

Ways to develop your EI and emotional expression

There are numerous steps you could take. I recommend you start by keeping a journal. Find five minutes each day to write down the answers to questions such as these:

  1. Which emotions did I express clearly today and to whom?
  2. How did I express them?
  3. What was the result of my expressing them in this way?
  4. Which emotions did I not express?
  5. Why not?
  6. How can I express them so I don't harm my relationships but clear the air?

Emotional expression is an essential emotional intelligence skill in the workplace whether you are leading a team, managing people, or interacting on the phone with customers. It can increase productivity, engagement and health. Develop this level of emotional intelligence now.
A case study of emotional expression in the workplace is here.

Have your emotional intelligence assessed now.

Want to know how high your emotional intelligence is? There is another model of emotional intelligence, by Salovey and Mayer, that has an ability-based emotional intelligence test called the MSCEIT which you can complete online.

Click here to find out how to take the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso-Emotional-Intelligence-Test (MSCEIT) and gain feedback on the results from our Director, emotional intelligence specialist, Rachel Green.

Develop your emotional intelligence now

We have many resources plus coaching packages to help you. Click here for the 5 star emotional intelligence coaching package, or for more details or to make a booking e-mail us now or pick up the phone and call us.

Develop your emotional intelligence now and lead a happier, more productive life and improve your work relationships, whether with colleagues, stakeholders or customers.