“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

Illuminate: How Are You (Really) Feeling Today? (9/5/2019) by Maria Jackson - How can you be more empowered with your emotions? The first step is to be able to correctly label them, in a timely manner - the emotional intelligence skill of enhance emotional literacy. ...
Emo-Shines: What an Imaginary World with Visible Emotions Can Teach Us About Language, Labeling Emotions, and Practicing EQ (8/20/2019) by Anabel Jensen - What if every subtle turn of our emotions were immediately obvious to us? And – just for fun – I pondered: What would happen if emotions were also visible to everyone else? ...
Why “Six Seconds” – About Our Intriguing Name (2019 Update) (6/19/2019) by Six Seconds - The chemicals of emotion affect every living cell in our bodies - but they are quickly recycled - guess how long? Well... we're called Six Seconds for a reason! ...
Illuminate: Navigating Anger toward Wisdom (4/13/2019) by Maria Jackson - Dive into a beautiful (and true!) story about the power of navigating emotions-- and learn how you can transform anger/sadness/grief/confusion into wisdom about yourself and your life's path. ...
7 Fascinating Facts About Anxiety You Should Know (4/8/2019) by Michael Miller - Anxiety quite literally rewires our brains, and changes how we perceive the world around us. Here are 7 fascinating facts about anxiety. ...
Expanding Your EQ Toolkit: 7 Tips + Resources to Cultivate Emotional Intelligence (10/16/2018) by Michael Miller - From a chart that deciphers the meaning of dozens of feelings to a video that will change your understanding of empathy, here are 10 free tips + resources to cultivate emotional intelligence. ...
Illuminate: Who drives you NUTS? (10/15/2018) by Maria Jackson - Your 'Sandpaper Person' illuminates your own personal beliefs + opportunities for growth. This articles breaks down how to identify + learn from the person who most challenges you. ...
Illuminate: The Burn Out, Part I (9/24/2018) by Maria Jackson - So often, when we are in a hard place, we just want to get out as quickly as possible. But transforming our muck into meaning takes time, acceptance, and understanding. Here is my story of a recent burn out, and how you, too, can transform your muck. ...
Illuminate: Getting Out of Your Head + Into Your Body (9/3/2018) by Maria Jackson - Do you know the difference between feeling hungry and feeling anxious? Four ideas for increasing your brain-body connection. ...
Need Help Making a Decision? Try Mixed Emotions Cards (7/23/2018) by Michael Miller - Have you ever had really mixed feelings about a decision or a choice you have to make? It can paralyze the decision making process and cause us to waffle endlessly back and forth. The Mixed Emotions card deck embraces the complexity of emotions and turns them into an asset for decision making. ...

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.

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