What Are Emotions? • Made up of four components: • Physiological Feelings • Nonverbal Reactions • Cognitive Interpretations • Verbal Expressions
Physiological Feelings • Strong Emotions trigger bodily changes • Increased heart rate • Rise in BP • Slowing of digestion • Physiological messages can offer clues to your emotions once you become aware of them
Nonverbal Reactions • Not all physical changes accompany emotions • Easy to tell when one experiences a strong emotion, but hard to determine the exact emotion being conveyed • Facial expressions mimic feelings
Cognitive Interpretations • Our minds play an important role in determining how we feel • What we think determines our particular feeling.
Verbal Expressions • We cannot always rely on perceptiveness to make sure the message is conveyed appropriately • Emotional intelligence
Emotional Intelligence • The ability to recognize which feelings are appropriate in which situations and the skill to communicate those feelings effectively.
Typical Emotions • Anger • Anxiety • Content • Disgust • Fear • Gratitude • Guilt
Typical Emotions • Happiness • Jealousy • Joy • Pleasure • Relief • Sadness • Surprise
Major Influences • Personality • Culture • Biological Sex and Gender • Power • Social Conventions • Social Roles • Fear of Disclosure • Emotional Contagion
Personality • Extroverted vs. Introverted • Neurotic vs. Non-neurotic
Culture • Universal expression of emotions • happiness • sadness • surprise • anger • disgust • fear • Situational Differences • Degree of Expression Differences
Culture Continued... • Ethnicity • Blacks • Asians • Whites • Individualism vs. Collectivism • external display • internal experience • Data from study
Biological Sex and Gender • Women • more attuned • better memories of emotional images • more intense reactions • larger range of emotions • Men • Reveal positive emotions (NOT negative ones) • More likely to disclose to women
Power • The less powerful individual is more aware of emotions of the more powerful person • Intimidation factor
Social Conventions • direct expression of emotions • ex. United States • indirect expression of emotions • ex. Japan • Individualism-Collectivism impacts??
Social Roles • Emotional usage is decreased due to acceptable social roles. • One loses the ability to show certain emotions when they are continually repressed.
Fear of Self-Disclosure • Example: It’s hard for a boss to admit when he/she is wrong • Those that disclose can be misunderstood • Affection = romantic invitation • Uncertainty = weakness • Honesty can cause discomfort • Honesty can be used against you
Emotional Contagion • Definition: When one becomes influenced by the emotions of others around them. • Varying degrees • Fast process with no verbal communication needed.
Others… • EVERYTHING influences emotion!! • Religion, individual personal experiences etc.
Regardless of influences on emotions, there are healthy and unhealthy ways to express them. • The next section looks into the guidelines of healthy emotional expressions.
Guidelines for Expressing Emotions Advice and Techniques for Effective Emotional Expression
Effects of Emotional Expression • Emotional expression has a tremendous effect on health and well-being. • Physiological effects • Relational effects
Physiological Effects • Emotional suppression increases risk of physical problems such as, cancer, asthma, heart disease (DeAngelis, 1992). • Emotional inhibition also causes a increased risk for psychological problems, such as, anxiety or depression (Krause et al., 2003). • Overly aggressive expression can lead to high blood pressure and increased stress (Mayne, 1993). • A healthy balance is key.
Relational Effects • Pent-up emotions are harder to control and more likely to be expressed violently. • Lack of expression leads to relationship stagnation. • Healthy emotional expression increases intimacy, promotes relationship growth, and allows problems to be fixed before they escalate.
Steps to Healthy Emotional Expression • Recognize Your Feelings. • Choose the Best Language. • Share Multiple Feelings. • Recognize the Difference Between Feeling and Acting. • Accept Responsibility for Your Feelings. • Choose the Best Time and Place.
Recognize Your Feelings • Pay attention to your body. • Know your “emotional triggers”. • Don’t underestimate the importance of feelings. • Watch your gestures.
Choose the Best Language • “Wanting” isn’t the same thing as “feeling”. • Don’t rely on common adjectives. • Be specific. • Use metaphors or examples. • State the cause of the emotion when possible.
Share Multiple Feelings • Feelings are all related. • Same event can cause many different emotions. • Express as many emotions as possible. • Don’t be afraid to elaborate.
Recognize the Difference Between Feeling and Acting • Don’t try to be a hero. • Don’t pretend to feel something you don’t. • Simply acting on feelings does not always alleviate them. • Feelings do not always have to lead to action.
Accept Responsibility for Your Feelings • Don’t blame others for your feelings in your expression, even if they are the cause. • Don’t try to hide or cover up your feelings to please someone else.
Choose the Best Time and Place • Give yourself some time to prepare. • Plan out what you are going to say; write it down if you like. • Don’t have an emotional discussion when you are tired, sick, or under severe stress. • Devote the necessary time. • Make sure the other person is prepared to listen.
When Not to Express Emotions • If you are sure you will have difficulty controlling your emotions. • If the other person is unable to listen at that moment. • If the consequences might be worse than dealing with the emotions (authority figure). • Look for an indirect route. • Enlist a third party or mediator.
Expressing Positive Emotions • Most people associate emotional expression with problems or difficulties. • Happiness is also an emotion. • Feel free to express happiness, confidence, success and contentment. • Praise and complement your significant other when you are proud of them. • Surround yourself with people who will be happy for you. • Must be aware of the time and place!
Summary • Emotional expression is healthy and necessary for good relationships. • Know how you feel and why you feel it. • Express your emotions calmly and specifically. • “Acting out” isn’t necessary. • Choose your time and place carefully. • Don’t be afraid to express positive emotions!
It is true that healthy emotional expression can be more difficult for certain emotions • The next section involves a wide range of feelings that affect our communication skills.
Facilitative and Debilitative Emotions • Facilitative Emotions- emotions that contribute to effective functioning • Debilitative Emotions- emotions that hinder or prevent effective performance
Characteristics of Debilitative Emotions • Intensity • Duration
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Perfection- A communicator should handle all situations well • Very inspiring, but unrealistic
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Approval- A communicator has to constantly obtain everyone’s approval • Communicator sacrifices their own principles and/or happiness
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Should- A communicator doesn’t distinguish between what is and what should be • Communicator often wants others to behave differently
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Overgeneralization- A communicator doesn’t distinguish between what is and what should be • Communicator often wants others to behave differently
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Causation- A communicator feels they shouldn’t do anything to hurt or inconvenience others • Often communicator’s needs are overlooked
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Helplessness- Forces beyond a communicators control determine their satisfaction • Causes the communicator to feel like a victim
Irrational Thoughts That Can Lead to Debilitative Emotions • Fallacy of Catastrophic Expectations- A communicator believes if something bad can happen, it will • Causes ruminations of thoughts and feelings
How to Minimize Debilitative Emotions • Monitor your emotional reactions • Note activating/triggering events • Specific people • Specific events • Dispute irrational events • Why they are irrational events • Why your have them
References • Adler, R.B., Rosenfeld, L.B., & Proctor, R.F. (2004). Interplay: The Process of Interpersonal Communication (9th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. • DeAngelis, T. (1992). Illness linked with repressive style of coping. APA Monitor, pp. 14-15. • Krause, E.D., Mendelson, T. & Lynch, T.R. (2003). Childhood emotional invalidation and adult psychological distress: The mediating role of emotional inhibition. Child Abuse and Neglect, 27(2), p 199-214. • Mayne, T.J. (1999). Negative affect and health: The importance of being earnest. Cognition and Emotion, 13(5), pp. 201-236.