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  • Writer's pictureGreg Major

Unlocking Emotional Intelligence: The Power of the Feelings Wheel

Updated: Aug 15, 2023

The Feelings Wheel

In the realm of emotional intelligence and coaching, understanding and harnessing emotions is a crucial skill. The Feelings Wheel, a concept that delves into the precise language of emotional states, offers a valuable tool for both personal growth and building stronger relationships. By exploring this intricate framework, individuals can enhance their emotional self-awareness and cultivate a deeper understanding of the emotions of those around them. In this post, we will explore the practical uses of the Feelings Wheel and how it can drive breakthrough thinking, foster empathy, and elevate emotional intelligence.

The Foundation of Emotional Self-Awareness

Emotional self-awareness forms the bedrock of personal growth and development. By utilizing the Feelings Wheel, individuals can move beyond generic emotional states and dive into a more nuanced understanding of their own emotions. The wheel's basic level encompasses broad emotional categories such as Surprise, Fear, Anger, Disgust, Sadness, and Happiness. However, it is at the subsequent levels that the true depth of emotional precision is revealed.

Homing in on Nuance and Precision

At the second level of the Feelings Wheel, each basic emotional state is further broken down into 4 to 9 descriptors. This granularity enables individuals to pinpoint and articulate their emotions with greater accuracy. For example, instead of simply feeling "angry," one can identify emotions such as frustration, aggression, or humiliation. By recognizing and labeling these specific emotions, individuals gain insights into their own thought patterns and behavioral tendencies.

Validating Emotions and Enhancing Empathy

As coaches, validating the emotions of our clients is essential for establishing trust and creating a safe space for growth. The Feelings Wheel allows us to validate emotions not only for ourselves but also for others. For business owners and for leaders, understanding the emotional states of our colleagues, peers, team members, superiors, customers, and vendors, offer the prospect of building stronger relationships and fostering empathy. This empathetic understanding allows us to tailor our communication and support to their emotional needs, ultimately strengthening collaboration and connection.

Driving Breakthrough Thinking

Exploring the Feelings Wheel provides individuals with a powerful tool for uncovering insights and driving breakthrough thinking. By examining their emotions at a granular level, individuals can gain a deeper understanding of the underlying thoughts and beliefs that drive their behaviour. For example, someone who often feels anxious may realize that their fear stems from a fear of failure or a need for control. Armed with this awareness, individuals can challenge limiting beliefs, reframe their perspectives, and adopt healthier coping strategies.

Strengthening Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence is a vital skill for effective leadership and relationship building. The Feelings Wheel offers a framework for developing emotional intelligence by expanding our emotional vocabulary and deepening our understanding of emotions. As we become more proficient in identifying and labeling emotions, we enhance our ability to manage our own emotions and respond empathetically to others. This increased emotional intelligence empowers us to navigate complex social dynamics, resolve conflicts, and create positive work environments.


The Feelings Wheel is a valuable tool for business owners and leaders seeking to cultivate emotional self-awareness, empathy, and emotional intelligence. By moving beyond generic emotional states and exploring the intricate layers of emotions, individuals can develop a more nuanced understanding of themselves and others. This understanding opens the door to breakthrough thinking, better relationships, and enhanced personal and professional growth.

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