Emotional Awareness and EI

Posted  | 1 Comment(s)  |  by Kris Girrell

A few years back, Daniel Goleman introduced the concept of Emotional Intelligence as an essential foundation for effective leadership.  It was one of those ideas that met with instant recognition as spot on.  But just as quickly – in just a matter of a few years, it fell out of favor, mostly because of two things: 1. The materials associated were all about brain chemistry and of little relevance to the act of leading, and, 2. There was an assumption that all of us humans come equipped with a handy, dandy encyclopedia of emotions that one need only be aware of and learn to manage.

Now, I work with a lot of scientists who, though brilliant in their field, may have missed the class on identifying and understanding emotions.  For many (not all), their range of emotional vocabulary is nearly binary, consisting of “okay/sucks” or “not bad” and its antithesis of a simple, grunted “unh.”  I needed a way to appeal to such an organized mind and provide these people with a useful lexicon of human feeling states when I happened to notice in one client’s office a “periodic chart” of vegetables!  I was inspired!

The net result was my creation of an organized Periodic Table of Human Emotions. Originally I feared not having enough different emotional states to fill a chart. However, I find myself apologizing to those who are more emotionally articulate than I, as there really is no way to capture all of the myriad human emotions into the layout of the Mendeleev design!


Like Mendeleev’s Table of Elements, the organization follows a pattern where lighter or more pure and simple emotions are at the top, and the heavier and more complex are at the bottom of the chart.  Generally, I have tried to create the left side from a more heart and soul source and the right more from the head and spirit.

Just so that we don’t take this too seriously, emotions are given “chemical” symbols that either reflect their name as an abbreviation or their affect itself (for example, the symbol for Pleasure is Mm).  Atomic weights were a bit dicier to ascribe.  Some, like Gratitude, indicate something special (i.e., we should be grateful 24/7 as a practice!). On the other hand, Dread has been given the estimated weight of the world (6.0x1024kg) as its “atomic” weight. And of course Denial does not believe it has any atomic weight, thus none is listed.  However other atomic weights simply fill in the gaps – you’ll have to figure out which are or are not intentional for yourself.  And finally the highly unstable actinide and lanthanide series have been replaced respectively by the passion series and the depression series.  Go figure!

Time has yet to reveal whether this will be a useful tool as a backdrop to Emotional Intelligence, but we are currently beta testing this with a local scientific firm to see if the chemists can relate to it – stay tuned. And with that, I say, “enjoy!”

Kris Girrell
Career Partners International

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  1. Barry Kort's avatar
    Barry Kort
    | Permalink
    Greetings, Kris.

    I enjoyed and appreciated your talk yesterday on Emotional Intelligence at TEDx Natick.

    My own field of research (in cooperation with Roz Picard) is on the interplay of emotions and learning.

    Here is the mathematical model that the Sheldon Coopers of the world would have found helpful...

    "Cognition, Affect, and Learning"


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