6.1 Emotions and Communication

Learning Objectives

  1. Explain interrelationships among emotions and feelings
  2. Explain functions of emotions
  3. Describe emotional awareness and its importance to interpersonal communication.
  4. Differentiate between “I” and “You” statements.
  5. Explain the concept of emotional intelligence.
  6. Describe fallacies leading to debilitating emotions.

Emotions and Feelings

Being emotional is an inherent part of being a human. However, the way we communicate about emotion can make emotion seem negative. Have you ever said, “Don’t feel that way” or “I shouldn’t feel this way”? When we negate our own or someone else’s emotions, we are negating ourselves or that person and dismissing the right to emotional responses. At the same time, though, no one else can make you “feel” a specific way. Our emotions are our emotions. They are how we interpret and cope with life. A person may set up a context where you experience an emotion, but you are the one who is still experiencing that emotion and allowing yourself to experience that emotion. If you don’t like “feeling” a specific way, then you can change it. We all have the ability to alter our emotions. Altering our emotional states (in a proactive way) is how we get through life. Maybe you just broke up with someone, and listening to music helps you work through the grief you are experiencing to get to a better place. For others, they need to openly communicate about how they are feeling in an effort to process and work through emotions.

Attempting to deny that the emotion exists is not an effective way to process emotions. Think of this like a balloon. With each breath of air, you blow into the balloon, you are bottling up more and more emotions. Eventually, that balloon will get to a point where it cannot handle any more air in it before it explodes. Humans can be the same way with emotions when we bottle them up inside. The final breath of air in our emotional balloon doesn’t have to be big or intense. However, it can still cause tremendous emotional outpouring that is often very damaging to the person and their interpersonal relationships with others. Other research has demonstrated that handling negative emotions during conflicts within a marriage (especially on the part of the wife) can lead to faster de-escalations of conflicts and faster conflict mediation between spouses (Bloch, Haase, & Levenson, 2014).

Understanding Emotions

Emotion versus Feeling

To start our examination of the idea of emotions and feelings and how they relate to harmony and discord in a relationship, it’s important to differentiate between emotions and feelings. Emotions are our physical reactions to stimuli in the outside environment. They can be objectively measured by blood flow, brain activity, and nonverbal reactions to things because they are activated through neurotransmitters and hormones released by the brain. Feelings are the conscious experience of emotional reactions. They are our responses to thoughts and interpretations given to emotions based on experiences, memory, expectations, and personality. So, there is an inherent relationship between emotions and feelings, but they are different.

Intrapersonal Functions of Emotions

Emotions are rapid information-processing systems that help us act with minimal thinking (Tooby & Cosmides, 2008). Problems associated with birth, battle, death, and seduction have occurred throughout evolutionary history and emotions evolved to aid humans in adapting to those problems rapidly and with minimal conscious cognitive effort. If we did not have emotions, we could not make rapid decisions concerning whether to attack, defend, flee, care for others, reject food, or approach something useful, all of which were functionally adaptive in our evolutionary history and helped us to survive. For instance, drinking spoiled milk or eating rotten eggs has negative consequences for our welfare. The emotion of disgust, however, helps us immediately take action by not ingesting them in the first place or by vomiting them out. This response is adaptive because it aids, ultimately, in our survival and allows us to act immediately without much thinking. In some instances, taking the time to sit and rationally think about what to do, calculating cost-benefit ratios in one’s mind, is a luxury that might cost one’s life. Emotions evolved so that we can act without that depth of thinking.

Emotions Prepare the Body for Immediate Action

Emotions prepare us for behavior. When triggered, emotions orchestrate systems such as perception, attention, inference, learning, memory, goal choice, motivational priorities, physiological reactions, motor behaviors, and behavioral decision-making (Cosmides & Tooby, 2000; Cosmides & Tooby, 2008). Emotions simultaneously activate certain systems and deactivate others in order to prevent the chaos of competing systems operating at the same time, allowing for coordinated responses to environmental stimuli (Levenson, 1999). For instance, when we are afraid, our bodies shut down temporarily unneeded digestive processes, resulting in saliva reduction (a dry mouth); blood flows disproportionately to the lower half of the body; the visual field expands; and air is breathed in, all preparing the body to flee. Emotions initiate a system of components that includes subjective experience, expressive behaviors, physiological reactions, action tendencies, and cognition, all for the purposes of specific actions; the term “emotion” is, in reality, a metaphor for these reactions.

One common misunderstanding many people have when thinking about emotions, however, is the belief that emotions must always directly produce action. This is not true. Emotion certainly prepares the body for action; but whether people actually engage in action is dependent on many factors, such as the context within which the emotion has occurred, the target of the emotion, the perceived consequences of one’s actions, previous experiences, and so forth (Baumeister, Vohs, DeWall, & Zang, 2007; Matsumoto & Wilson, 2008). Thus, emotions are just one of many determinants of behavior, albeit an important one.

Emotions Influence Thoughts

Emotions are also connected to thoughts and memories. Memories are not just facts that are encoded in our brains; they are colored with the emotions felt at those times the facts occurred (Wang & Ross, 2007). Thus, emotions serve as the neural glue that connects those disparate facts in our minds. That is why it is easier to remember happy thoughts when happy, and angry times when angry. Emotions serve as the affective basis of many attitudes, values, and beliefs that we have about the world and the people around us; without emotions, those attitudes, values, and beliefs would be just statements without meaning, and emotions give those statements meaning. Emotions influence our thinking processes, sometimes in constructive ways, sometimes not. It is difficult to think critically and clearly when we feel intense emotions, but easier when we are not overwhelmed with emotions (Matsumoto, Hirayama, & LeRoux, 2006).

Emotions Motivate Future Behaviors

Because emotions prepare our bodies for immediate action, influence thoughts, and can be felt, they are important motivators of future behavior. Many of us strive to experience feelings of satisfaction, joy, pride, or triumph in our accomplishments and achievements. At the same time, we also work very hard to avoid strong “negative” feelings; for example, once we have felt the emotion of disgust when drinking the spoiled milk, we generally work very hard to avoid having those feelings again (e.g., checking the expiration date on the label before buying the milk, smelling the milk before drinking it, watching if the milk curdles in one’s coffee before drinking it). Emotions, therefore, not only influence immediate actions but also serve as an important motivational basis for future behaviors.

Interpersonal Functions of Emotions

Emotions are expressed both verbally through words and nonverbally through facial expressions, voices, gestures, body postures, and movements. We are constantly expressing emotions when interacting with others, and others can reliably judge those emotional expressions (Elfenbein & Ambady, 2002; Matsumoto, 2001) thus, emotions have signal value to others and influence others and our social interactions. Emotional expressions communicate information to others about our feelings, intentions, relationship with the target of the emotions, and the environment. Because emotions have this communicative signal value, they can help to solve social problems by evoking responses from others, signaling the nature of interpersonal relationships, and by providing incentives for desired social behavior (Keltner, 2003).


Emotional Expressions Facilitate Specific Behaviors in Perceivers

Because facial expressions of emotion are universal social signals, they contain meaning not only about the psychological state but also about that person’s intent and subsequent behavior. This information affects what the perceiver is likely to do. People observing fearful faces, for instance, are more likely to produce approach-related behaviors, whereas people who observe angry faces are more likely to produce avoidance-related behaviors (Marsh, Ambady, & Kleck, 2005). Even subliminal presentation of smiles produces increases in how much beverage people pour and consume and how much they are willing to pay for it; the presentation of angry faces decreases these behaviors (Winkielman, Berridge, & Wilbarger, 2005). Also, emotional displays evoke specific, complementary emotional responses from observers; for example, anger evokes fear in others (Dimberg & Ohman, 1996; Esteves, Dimberg, & Ohman, 1994), whereas distress evokes sympathy and aid (Eisenberg, Fabes, Miller, Fultz, Shell, Mathy, & Reno, 1989).

Communicating Emotions

Emotional Awareness

Sadly, many people are unaware of their own emotions. Emotional awareness, or an individual’s ability to clearly express, in words, what they are feeling and why is an extremely important factor in effective interpersonal communication. Unfortunately, our emotional vocabulary is often quite limited. One extreme version of not having an emotional vocabulary is called alexithymia, “a general deficit in emotional vocabulary—the ability to identify emotional feelings, differentiate emotional states from physical sensations, communicate feelings to others, and process emotion in a meaningful way” (Friedman, et al., 2003). Furthermore, there are many people who can accurately differentiate emotional states but lack the actual vocabulary for a wide range of different emotions. For some people, their emotional vocabulary may consist of good, bad, angry, and fine.

First, it’s important to distinguish between our emotional states and how we interpret an emotional state. For example, you can feel sad or depressed because those are feelings. However, you cannot feel alienated because this is not a feeling. Your sadness and depression may lead you to perceive yourself as alienated, but alienation is a perception (thought instead of emotion) of one’s self and not an actual emotional state. There are several evaluative terms that people ascribe to themselves (usually in the process of blaming others for their feelings) that they label emotions, but which are in actuality evaluations and not emotions. The table below presents a list of common evaluative words that people confuse for emotional states. Instead, avoiding these evaluative words will result in more effective communication.

Evaluative Words Confused for Emotions
Abandoned Cornered Mistreated Scorned
Abused Devalued Misunderstood Taken for granted
Affronted Diminished Neglected Threatened
Alienated Distrusted Overworked Thwarted
Attacked Humiliated Patronized Tortured
Belittled Injured Pressured Unappreciated
Betrayed Interrupted Provoked Unheard
Boxed-in Intimidated Put away Unseen
Bullied Let down Putdown Unsupported
Cheated Maligned Rejected Unwanted
Coerced Manipulated Ridiculed Used
Co-opted Mocked Ruined Wounded

Instead, using actual emotional words will communicate your feelings effectively. For most of us, we have a very limited emotional vocabulary.  Think about it, how many emotion words can you even list? And more importantly, how many emotional experiences can you appropriately label? One of the best ways to improve your ability to be assertive is to improve your emotional vocabulary.  A great tool for this is a Feelings Wheel.

A multicolored wheel depicting emotional variety

As you can see, there are a lot of words to describe our emotional vocabulary.  One of the worlds leading experts in emotions is Susan David (2016) and her research in the book Emotional Agility tells us that we need to have an emotional vocabulary of at least 30 words in order to accurately experience, express, and ultimately work through our emotions.

More from Susan David in this wonderful TedTalk.

“You” Statements

“You are mean.”

“You make me feel unloved.”

“You don’t care about me.”

According to Marshall Rosenberg (2003), the father of nonviolent communication, “You” statements ultimately are moralistic judgments where we imply the wrongness or badness of another person and the way they have behaved. When we make moralistic judgments about others, we tend to deny responsibility for our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Remember, when it comes to feelings, no one can “make” you feel a specific way. We choose the feelings we inhabit; we do not inhabit the feelings that choose us. When we make moralistic judgments and deny responsibility, we end up in a constant cycle of defensiveness where our individual needs are not going to be met by our relational partners. Behind every negative emotion is a need not being fulfilled, and when we start blaming others, those needs will keep getting unfilled in the process. Often this lack of need fulfillment will result in us demanding someone fulfill our need or face blame or punishment. In highly volatile relationships, this constant blame cycle can become very detrimental, and no one’s needs are getting met.

Instead, when we state observed behaviors and how they make us feel, we are directly and effectively communicating our actual feelings. For instance, “I felt angry when I came home and the dishes were in the sink.” However, just observing behavior and stating how you feel only gets you part of the way there because you’re still not describing your need. Now, when we talk about the idea of “needing” something, we are not talking about this strictly in terms of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, though those are all entirely appropriate needs. At the same time, relational needs are generally not rewards like tangible items or money. Instead, Marshall Rosenberg categorizes basic needs that we all have falling into the categories: autonomy, celebration, play, physical nurturance, integrity, and interdependence (Table 9.5). As you can imagine, any time these needs are not being met, you will want to get them fulfilled. As such, when we communicate about our feelings, tying them to an unmet or fulfilled need can have a positive effect. For example, you could say, “I feel dejected when you yell at me because I need to be respected.” In this sentence, you are identifying your need, observing the behavior, and labeling the need. Notice that there isn’t judgment associated with identifying one’s needs.

Table 9.5 Needs
Source: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life 2nd Ed by Dr. Marshall B. Rosenberg, 2003–published by PuddleDancer
Press and Used with Permission.
For more information visit www.CNVC.org and www.NonviolentCommunication.com
Autonomy Integrity
· to choose one’s dreams, goals, values · authenticity
· to choose one’s plan for fulfilling one’s dreams, goals, values · creativity
Celebration · meaning
· to celebrate the creation of life and dreams fulfilled · self-worth
· to celebrate losses: loved ones, dreams, etc. (mourning) Interdependence
Play · acceptance
· fun · appreciation
· laughter · closeness
Spiritual Communion · community
· beauty · consideration
· harmony · contribution to the enrichment of life (to exercise one’s power by giving that which contributes to life)
· inspiration · emotional safety
· order · empathy
· peace · honesty (the empowering honest that enables us to learn from our limitations)
Physical Nurturance · love
· air · reassurance
· food, water · respect
· movement, exercise · support
· rest · trust
· sexual expression · understanding
· shelter · warmth
· touch

I statements

Furthermore, using “I” statements allows us to own our feelings and reactions and acknowledge the ownership of them. Compare this to “you” messages, which negatively evaluate the other person’s behavior and places the blame on them. Consider the difference between “I feel worried when I don’t hear right back from you” vs. “You always ignore me!” Beware of starting off with an “I” statement and switching over to a “you” message, as this negates the purpose of using “I” language in the first place. For example, “I feel like you are neglecting me” is not really an “I” message expressing your own emotional reaction. It is, instead, a negative evaluation of another’s behavior. “You” statements such as “you make me feel…” places the blame for your feelings on the other and are likely to cause defensiveness. Instead, rephrase statements so that they convey your own feelings, as in “I feel lonely when we don’t hang out together” or “I feel anxious because decisions aren’t being made.” Oftentimes, people do not mean to intentionally cause us to experience a negative emotion with their actions, so it is likely to be more effective if we take responsibility for how we are decoding and interpreting the actions of others.

Using the formula below, you can create an effective “I” statement.

Describe the emotion(s), what behavior caused the emotion(s), and the ‘why’ of the emotion(s):

  • The emotion(s): Explicitly state the emotion(s) you are experiencing. The more specific we can be, the more likely the other will understand what we are feeling. Here, it is important to have a rich and nuanced emotional vocabulary to better understand and express these emotions to others as emotions can be mild, moderate, or intense. For example, consider the difference between the terms sad, melancholy, and despondent. Use the emotion wheel above to identify feelings.
  • The behavior: Just as it is important to be able to describe the specific emotion, it is likewise important to describe the specific behavior(s) that triggered that emotion. For example, if our roommate leaves dirty dishes on the kitchen counter we may feel annoyed. When describing the behavior, we should state only what we’ve observed, objectively and specifically, and not in an evaluative or accusatory manner. “Leaving dirty dishes in the kitchen” is an appropriate way to describe behavior, whereas “acting like a jerk” is an evaluation of that behavior, and not very conducive to productive interactions. Instead, we could say “I feel annoyed when dirty dishes are left in the kitchen” versus “I feel annoyed when you act like a jerk.” The latter statement also contains a “you” statement versus an “I” statement.
  • The why: Finally, it’s useful if we include a why in our “I” statement. Consider expressing a reason for why the behavior bothers us and leads to our particular emotional reaction? The why offers an explanation, interpretation, effect, or consequence of the behavior. One example might be “I feel annoyed when dirty dishes are left around the kitchen because it attracts cockroaches.” When describing the why, attempt to avoid “you” language. For example, saying “I feel sad when our plans are broken because you are neglecting me” still inserts that problematic “you,” which suggests blame and could lead to defensiveness. Instead, consider something like “I feel sad when our plans are broken because I want to spend more time together.”

“You” can easily creep into all three parts of an “I” message, and can be tricky to avoid at first, so you may want to mentally rehearse or even write down what you plan to say. Also, it is a good idea to repeat the statement back to yourself and think about how you might respond if someone said the exact same thing to you in a similar situation. If it would cause you to react negatively or defensively, revise your statement.

You might find that, in some situations, avoiding “you” may not be productive. At times, it might be useful to share the thoughts we attach to another person’s behavior. We can share our perspectives by using a phrase such as “I took it to mean…” In this case, “you” might show up in your interpretation. However, you can reduce the potential for defensiveness by using language that reflects tentativeness and ownership. An example of this is “I’m confused about the dishes being left because it seems out of the norm for you, and I’m wondering if something is going on.” Another example might be “I get frustrated when the dishes are left on the counter because I remember talking about this before and I think I’m not being heard.” We will learn more about language and actions that contribute to and reduce defensiveness in future chapters.

Understanding and asserting our emotions is important and challenging work.  Lisa Feldman Barrett is a Neuroscientist and Psychologist who also studies emotions.  Her research helps us understand that we are in control of our emotions, they aren’t in control of us. Take a look at her TedTalk below.


Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a topic that has been researched since the early 1990s and has been found to be an important indicator of life and career success. Emotional intelligence (EQ) refers to a form of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions (Cary, 2000). The original researchers of EQ, (Mayer & Salovey Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000) provided the first hint of emotional intelligence in their research, but much of the later research on emotional intelligence was done by Daniel Goleman (n.d.). According to Goleman, there are four main aspects to emotional intelligence.
  1. Self-awareness refers to a person’s ability to understand their feelings from moment to moment. It might seem as if this is something we know, but we often go about our day without thinking or being aware of our emotions that impact how we behave in work or personal situations. Understanding our emotions can help us reduce stress and make better decisions, especially when we are under pressure. In addition, knowing and recognizing our own strengths and weaknesses is part of self-awareness. Assume that Patt is upset about a new process being implemented in the organization. Lack of self-awareness may result in her feeling angry and anxious, without really knowing why. High self-awareness EQ might cause Patt to recognize that her anger and anxiety stem from the last time the organization changed processes and fifteen people got laid off. Part of self-awareness is the idea of positive psychological capital, which can include emotions such as hope; optimism, which results in higher confidence; and resilience, or the ability to bounce back quickly from challenges.[8] Psychological capital can be gained through self-awareness and self-management, which is our next area of emotional intelligence.
  2. Self-management refers to our ability to manage our emotions and is dependent on our self-awareness ability. How do we handle frustration, anger, and sadness? Are we able to control our behaviors and emotions? Self-management also is the ability to follow through with commitments and take initiative at work. Someone who lacks self-awareness may project stress on others. For example, say that project manager Mae is very stressed about an upcoming Monday deadline. Lack of self-management may cause Mae to lash out at people in the office because of the deadline. Higher EQ in this area might result in Mae being calm, cool, and collected—to motivate her team to focus and finish the project on time.
  3. Social awareness is our ability to understand social cues that may affect others around us. In other words, understanding how another is feeling, even if we do not feel the same way. Social awareness also includes having empathy for another, recognizing power structure and unwritten workplace dynamics. Most people high on social awareness have charisma and make people feel good with every interaction. For example, consider Erik’s behavior in meetings. He continually talks and does not pick up subtleties, such as body language. Because of this, he can’t understand (or even fathom) that his monologues can be frustrating to others. Erik, with higher EQ in social awareness, may begin talking but also spend a lot of time listening and observing in the meeting, to get a sense of how others feel. He may also directly ask people how they feel. This demonstrates high social awareness.
  4. Relationship management refers to our ability to communicate clearly, maintain good relationships with others, work well in teams, and manage conflict. Relationship management relies on your ability to use the other three areas of EQ to manage relationships effectively. Take Caroline, for example. Caroline is good at reading people’s emotions and showing empathy for them, even if she doesn’t agree. As a manager, her door is always open and she makes it clear to colleagues and staff that they are welcome to speak with her anytime. If Caroline has low EQ in the area of relationship management, she may belittle people and have a difficult time being positive. She may not be what is considered a good team player, which shows her lack of ability to manage relationships.

Author and Pulitzer Prize nominee Daniel Goleman discusses the importance of emotional intelligence in career success.

To increase our self-awareness skills, we should spend time thinking about our emotions to understand why we experience a specific emotion. We should look at those things that cause a strong reaction, such as anger to help us understand the underlying reasons for that reaction. By doing this, we can begin to see a pattern within ourselves that helps explain how we behave and how we feel in certain situations. This allows us to handle those situations when they arise.

To increase our self-management skills, we can focus on the positive instead of the negative. Taking deep breaths increases blood flow, which helps us handle difficult situations. Although seemingly childish, counting to ten before reacting can help us manage emotions such as anger. This gives us time to calm down and think about how we will handle the situation. Practicing positive self-talk can help increase our self-management. Self-talk refers to the thoughts we have about ourselves and situations throughout the day. Since we have over 50,000 thoughts per day (Willax, 1999), getting into the habit of managing those thoughts is important. By recognizing the negative thoughts, we can change them for the positive. The following are some examples:

Positive Negative
I made a mistake. I am, or that was, dumb.
I need some work on xx skills. I am an idiot.
It may take a bit more effort to show them what I have to offer. They will never accept me.
I need to reprioritize my to do list. I will never be able to get all of this done.
Let me see what seminars and training are available. I just don’t have the knowledge required to do this job.

Increasing social awareness means observing others’ actions and watching people to get a good sense of how they are reacting. We can gain social awareness skills by learning people’s names and making sure we watch body language. Living in the moment can help our interactions with others as well. Practicing listening skills and asking follow-up questions can also help improve our social awareness skills.

Strategies for relationship management might include being open, acknowledging another’s feelings, and showing that you care. Being willing to listen to colleagues and employees and understanding them on a personal level can help enhance relationship management skills. Being willing to accept feedback and grow from that feedback can help people be more comfortable talking with you.

Debilitative Emotions and Emotional Expression

Throughout the years there has been a big debate about the true meaning of emotions and how they can be understood. However, emotions can be defined as the state of psychological arousal, by which these feelings arise spontaneously and without any conscious attempt. This state includes thoughts, physiological changes, and actions or behaviors. Moreover, there are approximately 132 common human emotions; such as shy, sorry, mad, frustrated, happy, humiliated, annoyed, peaceful, bored, and many others.

Debilitative Emotions

Debilitative emotions are harmful and difficult emotions that detract from effective functioning. The level, or intensity, of the emotion we’re feeling, determines our response to the emotion. There is a difference between “a little upset” and “irate”. Debilitative emotions can affect the ability to interpret emotions and most involve communication that has led to conflict. Some intensity in emotion can be constructive but too much intensity makes the situation worse. The other part of debilitative emotions is their duration. Again, there is a difference between “momentarily” feeling a certain way and “forever” feeling a certain way. When something happens, sometimes you feel like your whole life has crashed down on you and that there’s no way to pick up the pieces. One unexpected, disappointing situation does not have to completely change the core of your being. A strategy for working through these emotions is if something bad does happen, give yourself a few days to sulk over it. Because it’s still important to recognize your feelings, as well as understand them, instead of completely brushing them off. After those few days are over, you can realize that there’s much more out there, remind yourself about what makes you happy and remind yourself of the goals you want to accomplish. Some debilitative emotions take a long time to recover from but allowing yourself to let go of grudges so that they don’t affect your future communication traits and interpersonal relationships is important for emotional health.

Most emotions are the result of our way of thinking. Debilitative emotions arise from accepting a number of irrational thoughts that are called fallacies. These fallacies lead to illogical and false conclusions that turn to be debilitative emotions. We may not be aware of these thoughts, which makes them very powerful. Here are some fallacies that lead to the arousal of debilitative emotions.

Fallacy of Perfection

The fallacy of perfection is thinking we should be able to handle every situation perfectly with no room for error. We constantly strive for an unrealistic goal of perfection. We may think that others will not appreciate us if we are not “perfect” and therefore have problems admitting our mistakes. It’s like tempting to try to appear perfect, but the costs of such deception are very high. If others ever find you out, they’ll see u as phony. This illusion will lower your self-confidence (because nothing and no one is perfect) and may hinder others from liking you. Like everyone else, you make mistakes from time to time, and there is no reason to hide this.

Fallacy of Helplessness

The fallacy of helplessness is when people are convinced that powers beyond their control can determine their satisfaction or happiness. For example, when people say “I don’t know how” or “I can’t do anything about it”. It’s similar to being helpless or undesirable to change. The many can’ts are really rationalizations to justify not wanting to change. For instance, lonely people tend to attribute their poor interpersonal relationships to uncontrollable causes. This irrational thinking increases debilitative emotions and empowers them.

Fallacy of Catastrophic Expectations

The fallacy of catastrophic expectations is when people work on the assumption that if something bad can possibly happen, it will; by which they imagine the worst possible catastrophic consequences. For example, “If I speak regarding this issue, they will laugh at me”. This in turn creates harmful debilitative emotions and a self-fulfilling prophecy will begin to build. For instance, a study revealed that people who believed that their romantic partners would not change for the better were likely to behave in ways that contributed to the breakup of the relationship.

Fallacy of Overgeneralization

The fallacy of overgeneralization comprises two types. The first occurs when we base a belief on a limited amount of evidence. For instance, when we say: “I’m so stupid, I can’t even figure out how to download music on my iPod.” The second type takes place when we exaggerate shortcomings. For example, when we say: “you never listen to me or you are always late.” These statements are always false and they lead to nothing other than anger and debilitative emotions.


Key Takeaways

  1. Emotions and feelings work together but are not the same.
  2. Emotions serve important functions in our relationships and lives.
  3. Effectively communicating emotions takes awareness and understanding of communication strategies.
  4. Emotional intelligence can be learned and is important to our emotional well-being.
  5. Fallacies can lead to debilitating emotions.



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