How To Communicate Your Emotions In Words

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Emotions occur regularly as we interact with others or hear or see something compelling. Some are expressed while some are kept inside. Some people do not verbalize their emotions not because they want to but because finding the words to say tactfully is hard for them. Hence, the ability to articulate emotions is a skill that anyone can benefit from. Knowing how to talk through your lighter feelings such as appreciation, love, delight, excitement, and gratitude helps in building affectionate bonds. Meanwhile, sharing negative and distressing feelings such as stress and anxiety helps in making others understand you. Clearly, expressing emotions through words can build bridges and sustain or solidify relationships be it personal, social, and professional. It can contribute to whether a  relationship would improve or suffer. In addition, putting your emotions into words can help you to become more self-aware and understand the way you interact with others. In this post, several tips are outlined to help you with how to articulate your emotions into words.

1. Have a light and positive tone opening

When initiating to talk about your feelings with someone, start with something light as much as possible. You can greet them first if you have just seen them. Meanwhile, if you have been talking long already and articulating your emotions comes in the middle of the conversation, say something nice about the person and your relationship first, then honestly bring up how you feel.

Opening statements 

“Hey John, it’s nice that we have this time together, so I can open up.”

“I really appreciate all of the hard work that you are doing. Let’s talk further about some important details to improve our partnership.” 

2. Refrain from using confused-feeling descriptions

People wanted to be understood. That’s why we express our emotions. We unload our burden and hope that others would care and sympathize. However, at times, others can’t identify with us or understand how we feel due to the way we articulate our emotions. At certain times, you may find yourself communicating irony, such as saying, “I’m fine” but deep inside you are not and you don’t look fine either. Also, when asked, you may respond with “I don’t know” just to provide a curt answer when you are not in the mood to analyze and explain what you feel. If you really want to be understood, you have to voice out your emotions into words clearly.

3.  Use appropriate vocabulary to name your emotion. 

Emotions are complex, and putting them into words may not be easy, especially when you do not have the words to do so. You may find yourself labeling your emotion as just either “good” or bad.” or by using broad or vague terms such as happy, sad, or angry. Other times you may opt to repackage the description of your emotion to avoid negative impressions. However, it is important to acknowledge and name your emotions specifically to help you and your loved ones understand you. Feelings are one word, and by using the most accurate one to describe it, will make others instantly imagine how you genuinely feel. To ensure that you articulate your emotions accurately, develop your emotional vocabulary. 


Vague – “I feel sad.”

Specific – “I feel discouraged.”

Vague – I feel good.”

Specific – I feel appreciated.”

4. Organize your thoughts to avoid explaining multiple feelings at once

We tend to describe our emotions confusingly when it is too juggled. We may share our primary and secondary emotions all at once. However, it is important to analyze your complicated emotions first and disentangle them from each other to describe them individually. Remember that primary emotion is your initial feeling to a situation, while your secondary emotion is what you felt after your primary emotion. Understanding the difference between these emotions will help you and your conversation partner to have a fuller picture of what you are really feeling inside. 


“I’m pleased about your promotion. I just feel a bit disappointed with myself that I did not pass the evaluation. In truth, I feel a bit jealous”.  

“I feel frustrated whenever I remember the fear, the stress, and inconveniences it caused me at that time.” 

5. State the root of your emotion in a single sentence

Part of expressing your emotion is identifying its source. To get others to understand you clearly, state the root cause of the issue in a single sentence as much as possible. This is helpful if you don’t want to elaborate on details but just want the involved person to know. By providing the exact root cause in one sentence, your issue will be easier to discuss. 


“I feel disappointed after hearing his decision.”

“I feel motivated whenever my efforts are acknowledged and see that the project is progressing.”

6.  Use “I” statements

I statement helps in making your message sound more sincere and powerful. It shows that you understand and take ownership of your emotions. It is helpful when you want to talk about your feelings of hurt or disappointment without sounding accusatory. To use I statement, simply begin your sentence with the word  “I,” followed by the word “feel.” 


“I feel discouraged about the disposal of my proposal.” 

“I feel appreciated when my boss pats my back after completing my tasks.” 

7. Avoid substituting the expressions ‘I feel’ for ‘I think’

Another confusing description that people do when they are trying to put their emotions into words is by saying what they think instead of what they really feel. Often, people confuse thoughts with feelings. Hence it is important to identify thoughts versus feelings. Thoughts are the beliefs and the facts that you know, while feelings are your emotional state or physical sensations. Hence if you alternately use “I feel” to express what you think, then you verbalized your thought but not your emotions.


(thought)   (feeling and thought)
 “I feel like you acted overboard.”  “I feel hurt and disrespected because you acted overboard.”
 “I feel like you helped me.”  “I feel delighted that you helped me.”

8. Avoid blanket statements

A blank statement is about generalizing. It attempts to cover all situations by claiming that something applies to everything. One reason why people have conflicts and end up having arguments when emotions are shared is because of this. Emotion occurs because of a particular event or root cause at a particular time and not because of the entirety of something. Hence, it is not advisable to generalize.


 Wrong Correct
 “I feel irritated with my partnership with him.”  “I feel irritated when he did not follow the agreement in our partnership.”
 “I feel encouraged because of the team.”  “I feel encouraged after seeing the support of the team.”

9. Reiterate your emotion using your new words

At certain points in the conversation, you may need to mention your emotion again. When you do, use a different word but still showing common traits of that emotion. This is connected and consistent with the third tip given above on why you need to expand your emotional vocabulary. The more familiar you are with many descriptors of emotion, the more it is easier for you to put your emotion into words. Using different but related words to your emotion will create more impact and color to your message. This will also prevent your listeners from getting bored by hearing the same words repeatedly. 

10. Explain how you feel by answering why questions

When you have difficulty in explaining the root cause of your emotions, it would be helpful to ask yourself why you feel in a certain way. This will help you to figure out and analyze things. Remember that the better you understand your emotions, the easier it is to communicate it with others.

11. Stick to facts when explaining the situation 

Always stick to facts when describing prompting events, your current situation, and resulting feelings. This will give the person you are talking to a vivid picture of the situation or behavior that you are reacting to. This also prevents you from sounding like putting any judgment but just presenting things factually. To do this, it helps to use “when you” statements.


“I feel disgusted when you confirmed that you will come at 3 pm but arrived at 5:30 pm.”

“I feel excited when you said that we’ll be developing a new product.” 

12. Provide details by answering your own formulated questions

If you are clueless about what details to provide to your listener to make them better understand what you feel, try to put yourself in their position. Think about the questions they might probably have for you. Figure out answers to your questions and draw the details from it. However, make sure that you only give relevant details and don’t extend beyond what needs to be concise.

13. Mention that you don’t need “fixing”

When you share your emotions, you may find that others will automatically think they need to say something to make you feel better. In most cases, they would give advice or share their opinion with you. However, there are circumstances when you just want to express your emotions and be listened to. In such instances, you may need to tell clearly to the person you are speaking with that they don’t need to offer any advice. 


“I feel a bit down today, but it’s okay. You don’t need to make me feel better.”

“I just want to share what I feel to get a few things off of my chest. I’m kind of feeling lonely today.”

14. Use simple language

Using flowery words may be useful in writing, but in speaking, it may not be effective as people may see it as weird. Meanwhile, using complicated or sophisticated words is also not advisable as others may not exactly pick up your point. Putting your emotion into simple, familiar language is a good way because it is practical and relatable. After all, the main reason why you articulate your feelings is that you wanted to be understood and not to impress. Ergo, when articulating your emotions, do it in a straightforward, honest, and easy to comprehend way.

15. Practice

 If you are not someone who is used to communicating your emotion, you may feel uneasy doing it initially. Overcome this by engaging in conversations that would allow you to express your emotions without feeling awkward. Practicing will make it easier for you to express yourself better.


LingualBox offers a conversation course where you will be able to speak comfortably using the English language. You will also learn useful expressions in everyday conversations, including those you would need when discussing your insights and feelings.

Putting your emotions into words is a skill that is worth learning as it will serve you well. It can help in getting a few things off of your chest and assist you in addressing and resolving issues. Once done correctly, you will feel lighter and closer to the people you opened up your heart with. 

Enroll today at LingualBox to enjoy your two free trial classes. Start learning English today to communicate better.


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Kaycie Gayle is a freelance content writer and a digital publisher. Her writings are mostly about, travel, culture, people, food, and communication.