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No. 4 – The Language of Feelings

November 10, 2010

What is the language of feelings? How will you know when someone is speaking the language of feelings or may be looking for a response from you in the feeling language? If you are a typical health physicist, you will know that you are in the world of feelings when, for example, you find yourself confused about another person’s upset or dismay, which you cannot understand by any logical analysis.

When you cannot readily identify clues to where the other person is coming from and they sound emotional and irrational, they may simply be speaking the language of feelings. The language of feelings is not just a matter of the words used. This language also reflects a culture and a lifestyle that are completely opposite to the normal language of “thinking” used by most health physicists. Health physicists commonly prefer to speak in terms of logical objective analysis, based on fundamental principles, and impersonal evaluation for deriving the truth. In contrast, the feeling language draws conclusions based on personal empathy and subjective evaluation of circumstances. The feeling language emphasizes values, harmony, appreciation, sympathy, caring, and what is best for the people involved.

When someone speaks in the feeling language, they will often preface their comments with the words, “I feel…” They will want to know your feelings and will evaluate your empathy by the extent to which you hear their feelings. They will judge your credibility in terms of human values and how they perceive you care about people. They will not be persuaded by logical analysis, which seems impersonal, cool, and uncaring.

To talk in the feeling language, we need to know some words that describe feelings. For example, a feeling person may say, “If am feeling happy, angry, depressed, nervous, jubilant, furious, upset, excited, anxious, cheerful, delighted, pleased, distressed, disturbed, satisfied, unhappy, melancholy, wonderful, or splendid.” Whenever you hear such feeling words, an appropriate response is to reflect the feelings. That is, you respond with words that describe the feelings that you heard.

For example, “You are feeling…” you then include a synonym for the feeling you perceived. If you find that you are having difficulty identifying the feelings, you can narrow down the possibilities by noting that there are only four words that capture the essence of all feelings. These words are mad, sad, glad, and afraid. Usually you can readily identify which of these four feelings is closest and then choose an appropriate synonym for your response.

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