Series on Emotional Intelligence: Recognizing emotions

Recognizing and identifying emotions is a prerequisite for developing emotional intelligence. There is a major difference between experiencing emotions and recognizing them. We all experience emotions but only a few among us can actually recognize them. Recognizing your emotions is the ability to use the analytical capabilities of your brain. People who can identify and recognize their emotions have higher levels of emotional intelligence. Being clear about your emotions is necessary for living with a purpose. In the process, you will learn how to improve your EQ (Emotional Quotient) by controlling a particular emotion.


Let us diagnose a high profile career woman working in a nationalized bank. She always feels that nobody cares for her. She is smart, conscientious, well organized and industrious. She really cares about other people. But whenever there is a function and invitations are sent out, she invariably does not get invited.

At office she hears of lunch plans in the making, but ends up eating alone at her table. There is a reason why she is not on anybody’s guest list. She is an angry woman, but she does not know about it. Nor does she want to admit that she gets angry on trivial issues. Perhaps, she is angry because she did not get promoted, or her mother loved her sister more than her, or her boyfriend had cheated on her. There is no need to explore any more reasons. But whatever the reason(s), she does not want to acknowledge that she gets angry.

Most of the time she concentrates on pushing away her emotions—something she is really good at. She convinces herself through constant mental chatter: ‘No one ever gives me a chance…they’re so unfair…it wasn’t my fault.’ She pushes these feelings out of her system but projects them on to everyone else. Since she is unable to recognize either her own emotions or those of others, she is often caught off guard and hurt by any direct confrontation. She is therefore always on her guard and defends herself at every turn. If, for example, the room feels warm, she will say that she was nowhere near the thermostat. When something upsets her, and most things do, it comes as a complete surprise to her, and her knee jerk response is ‘I’ve done nothing wrong’. People sense the anger and try to avoid her. Rather than experience the pain of constant rejection, she is endlessly obsessed about how unfairly she is being treated and so perpetuates the cycle of emotional hurt.

Have you been able to diagnose our high profile career woman? She changes her mood, rationalizes and rehearses, and in doing so, changes the emotion she experiences from internal hurt to poorly concealed rage. If only she could learn to recognize all her emotions and not be caught off guard, she would definitely be able to develop the ability to manage her anger. And this would enable her to hear unpleasant things without becoming angry or bear hurt without expressing the hurt as hostility. She could become a much more desirable person to interact with and be noticed and welcome by all.

Source: Emotional Intelligence at work, by Dalip Singh