Feelings Conversation Tips and Strategies

Find  Your Feelings: Learn Where Feelings Hide

  • Explore your emotional footprint.
    • How did you your family handle emotions?
    • What feelings weren’t allowed when you were growing up?
    • Which feelings were easily expressed?
    • What was your role in the emotional life of the family?
    • What emotions do you now find easy to acknowledge and express and with whom?
    • Which do you find more difficult?
  • Accept that feelings are normal and natural.
  • Recognize that good people can have bad feelings.
  • Recognize that their feelings are as important as yours and yours are important as theirs.
  • Find the bundle of feelings behind simple labels
Love affectionate, caring, close, proud, passionate
Anger frustrated, exasperated, enraged, indignant
Hurt let down, betrayed, disappointed, needy
Shame embarrassed, guilty, regretful, humiliated, self=loathing
Fear anxious, terrified, worried, obsessed, suspicious
Self-Doubt Inadequate, unworthy, inept, unmotivated,
Joy Happy, enthusiastic, full, elated, content
Sadness Bereft, wistful, joyless, depressed
Jealousy Envious, selfish, covetous, anguished
Gratitude Appreciative, thankful, relieved, admiring
Loneliness Desolate, abandoned, empty, longing


  • Attributions and judgments can be all consuming, so find the feelings behind them. Saying, “I feel hurt when…” carries much less weight than:
    • Judgment: If they weren’t __________, they would listen better.
    • Attribution: Why were you trying to hurt me?
    • Characterization: You’re just so inconsiderate.
    • Problem-Solving: The answer is for you is to get your homework done.

Don’t Treat Feelings As Gospel: Negotiate with Them

  • Negotiate with your feelings: Look at the thoughts behind them and decide if they really make sense. Our thoughts about our feelings can change the feelings.
  • Don’t just vent: Describe feelings carefully and accurately.
  • Don’t evaluate, just share.
  • Express without judging or attributing blame.
  • Don’t monopolize: Both sides can have strong feelings at the same time.
  • Remember to say “I feel…” It avoids judging or accusing.
  • Be sure to acknowledge other’s feelings.
    • Don’t just hear them and then jump right into problem solving.
  • Sometimes feelings are all that matter.
    • Misunderstood or undisclosed feelings can sometimes be the only thing that is making a conversation difficult.
    • Sometimes there is a lot of relationship or job related work to do that still has to go on. Even so, communicating effectively—about feelings or the problem—will be critical.

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