“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”  ~ Antione de Saint-Exupery

Enhance Emotional Literacy

Definition: Accurately identifying and understanding feelings.

Importance: Emotions are chemicals, a form of neurotransmitter, that provide data about yourself and others; emotions are a feedback system delivering information that drives behavior and decisions. Emotional literacy is the capacity to access and interpret that data.

"emotional literacy" is naming and understanding feelings

Enhance Emotional Literacy is one of the core competencies of “Know Yourself” in the Six Seconds Model.

Emotional literacy helps you notice, name, and understand feelings. This provides critical information about you (and about others), which gives you insight into the core drivers of behavior. This understanding is also key to managing your reactions.


What are emotions and where do they come from?

Recommended Tools

EQ for Families: Emotional Literacy Workshop: Help parents and caregivers increase emotional literacy — the foundation to emotional intelligence. This program, “The Power of Feelings: Parenting with Emotional Intelligence,” will help them communicate with their children, recognize and manage emotions, and increase self-awareness.

Emotional Literacy Museum: The Emotional Literacy Museum is a self-directed learning experience teaching about the physiology of emotions, emotional regulation, and emotional literacy. 

Mixed Emotions Cards – a beautiful deck of “tarot-like” cards of feelings (labeled with feelings and synonyms)

eMotion Cards – evocative, playful moon face illustrations of emotions (open-ended without labels)

Biodots – a simple reminder that emotions are part of our physiology

Bingo Emotions – classic “bingo” game played with emotions (in English & Spanish)

Feeling Faces – photos of real people and data about how survey respondents evaluated each picture

Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment with debrief which provides feedback about the way you’re currently using your EQ and how to improve in this area

EQ for Families: Emotional Literacy Workshop – Help parents and caregivers increase emotional literacy — the foundation to emotional intelligence.

Articles about Emotional Literacy

7 Amazing Facts About Emotions You Should Know (2/19/2018) by Michael Miller - Got emotions? Everyone needs these 7 amazing facts about feelings and why we have them.
Talking with Kids About Tragic News (2/17/2018) by Joshua Freedman - After horrific events in the news, do you share your feelings w kids/students... or try to reassure by hiding your feelings? How can we talk with children about these difficult feelings?
Getting Unstuck: The Power of Naming Emotions (1/21/2018) by Michael Miller - Traffic is always stressful, right? Turns out, there's a secret neuroscience tip about naming emotions that can help. It's simple and powerful.
Ready Set Go! POP-UP Festival Launches Today (11/1/2017) by Patty Freedman - Launch Day is finally here.  We've been celebrating as sign ups rolled in over the last few weeks and today we can share the POP-UP Festival we've built together.
Using EQ to Build Trust Across Racial and Political Divides (8/15/2017) by Rachel Goodman - How can we learn to trust each other when we don't seem to have common ground? Emotional intelligence is the key to building trust.
Building Trust in Turbulent Times: Lea Brovedani The Trust Architect (7/26/2017) by Rachel Goodman - How can we build trust in times of trouble? The Trust Architect has some words of wisdom about the "Five C's" of trust building. Caring, Commitment, Consistency, Competence and Communication.
Emotion, Feeling, Mood: What’s the Difference? (Updated 2017) (5/14/2017) by Joshua Freedman - The neuroscience is fascinating, emotions are immediate biological signals, feelings come later, and moods build up over time.
Robert Plutchik's graphic model of eight basic emotions and variations Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions – 2017 Update (4/27/2017) by Melissa Donaldson - If you want to enhance your emotional literacy, Robert Plutchik's wheel of emotions is a useful tool. To practice emotional intelligence effectively, you need to have a robust and nuanced emotional vocabulary. Here at Six Seconds, we call it enhancing emotional literacy. It's the foundation for essential EQ skills like recognizing, labeling, and navigating emotions. But how can go about increasing our emotional vocabulary? Robert Plutchik's wheel of emotions is a great place to start -  and we included an interpretation guide below!   ...
Environmental Intelligence: Communicating About Climate Change (4/14/2017) by Rachel Goodman - Earth to Humans: S.O.S. We love the earth. It's our only home. And, we don't always know how to find the words to talk about what's happening to our environment and the future. Some of us spend more time looking at pictures of animals online than being out in nature. How can we practice EI, environmental intelligence, along with emotional intelligence? Does collaborating make us feel more optimistic? The science is overwhelmingly clear in showing that we only have about ...
Connecting with Connectance in Italy (4/6/2017) by Rachel Goodman - What would it take to create an innovative organization where people FEEL the spark to take it higher? Max Presutti tells us the secret.

more emotional literacy articles on our site

Other Resources

HBR blog on recognizing emotions http://blogs.hbr.org/bregman/2012/05/do-you-know-what-you-are-feeli.html

Paul Ekman’s Emotions Revealed

Chip Conley’s Emotional Equations


Six Seconds

Six Seconds supports people to create positive change - everywhere... all the time. Founded in 1997, the organization now has offices in 11+ countries and certified practitioners in over 100, and is the world's preeminent resource for putting emotional intelligence into action.