V. Managing Your Emotional Expression

  1. Managing your emotional expression is part of emotional intelligence (James Gross):an ability to interpret your emotions accurately, communicating them constructively and solving relationship problems.

  2. Emotional managementis an ability to: (a) to influence what emotions you have, (b) when you have them, (c) how you experience them, (d) how you express them.

  3. Managing Your Emotions After Occurrence:(a) some event triggers arousal; (b) we interpret our response; (c) we become aware of our emotions.

  4. Two ways of dealing with emotions: Michael Argyle:(a) suppression; (b) venting. Suppression is caused by relational, social and cultural factors; we may suppress not V. Managing Your Emotional Expression only negative but also positive emotions. Suppression is a way of managing unavoidable and unwanted emotions but its effectiveness is marginal. Venting is allowing emotions to dominate thoughts and explosively expressing them. We vent both positive and negative emotions.

DISCUSSION STARTER 5: Consider your own use of suppression and venting.

What leads you to choose one or the other strategy? Are there limits to how often you vent or how long you suppress? What ethical considerations arise related to each strategy?

  1. Preventing Emotions:(a) encounter avoidance: staying away from people, places and activities that provoke unwanted emotions; (b) encounter structuring: intentionally avoiding V. Managing Your Emotional Expression specific topics that trigger unwanted emotions; (c) focusing attention: devoting your attention to what does not provoke unwanted emotion; (d) deactivating: systematically desensitizing yourself to emotional experiences.

  2. Reappraising Emotions:actively changing how you think about emotional situations to change your reaction to them: (a) before the negative emotion is triggered, call to mind positive aspects of the encounter; (b) consider short-term and long-term consequences of your actions.

VI. Online Communication and Emotion

  1. John Suler:Online communication presents difficulties in emotional expression due to (a) asynchronicity and (b) invisibility.

  2. Knowing that the communication is asynchronous and invisible V. Managing Your Emotional Expression we: (a) openly express emotions because we don’t get immediate feedback; (b) have the feeling of “not being there”; (c) have hard time empathizing or taking perspective; (d) do not take time to ask questions.

  3. Therefore: (a) be aware that lack of empathy is not due to person’s character but rather the nature of online interaction, (b) actively seek out feedback (ask questions on perspective, communicate empathic concern); (c) be tolerant of aggression (save your messages for 24 hours before sending them).

DISCUSSION STARTER 6: Recall an online encounter in which you inappropriately expressed emotion. How did lack of empathy V. Managing Your Emotional Expression shape your behavior? Would you have communicated the same way face-to-face? What does this tell you about the relationship between feedback, empathy, and emotional


VI. Anger

  1. Len Berkowitz, Eddie Harmon-Jones:Anger is a negative primary emotion that occurs when you are blocked or interrupted from attaining an important goal by an improper action of an external agent;

  2. Anger is driven by the sense of something improper or unfair;

  3. Usually anger is managed by suppression, especially when its expression is (a) unprofessional, (b) due to mistaken perceptions, (c) due to mistaken attributions. Chronically suppressing anger leads to chronic hostility V. Managing Your Emotional Expression.

  4. Another anger management strategy is catharsis, when you openly express emotions for purging. Research shows that venting actually boosts anger.

  5. To manage anger use: (a) encounter avoidance; (b) encounter structuring; (c) reappraisal.

  6. Alternatively, use the Jefferson strategy of counting to ten.

  7. Steps in anger management offered by Mayo Clinic (Michael’s Sound Bite 4-2): Carol Tavris:(a) take a time out; (b) after calming down, express your anger; (c) get some exercise; (d) think before you speak; (e) identify possible solutions; (f) speak for yourself; (g) learn to get over problems; (h) use humor, (i) practice relaxation, (j) know V. Managing Your Emotional Expression where to seek help. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/anger-management/MH00102

  8. Deeply entrenched anger is a psychological problem.

VII. Passion

  1. Passionis a blended emotion of surprise, joy, excitement, amazement and sexual attraction. (a) Passion is provoked by people who communicate in ways we do not expect; (b) who we interpret positively; (c) whom we perceive as physically pleasant.

  2. As passion stems from surprise, the longer and better you know someone, the less passion occurs.

  3. Passion cannot be planned out or negotiated.

DISCUSSION STARTER 7: How has passion changed over time in your romantic relationships? Have these changes influenced your V. Managing Your Emotional Expression communication toward your partners? Is passion a necessary component of romance, or is it possible to have a romantic relationship without frequent passion?

D. Ask yourself: Ellen Berscheid: (Michael’s Sound Bite 4-3): (a) am I “only interested” or “fully committed”? (b) am I able to prioritize effectively; (c) am I able to create enough time? (d) am I able to compartmentalize life? (e) Am I believing in myself more than I should?

E. Excessive and overpowering passion is a psychological problem.

VIII. Grief

  1. Brant Burleson:Grief is intense sadness that follows V. Managing Your Emotional Expression a substantial loss.

  2. Grief management strategies include: (a) emotion sharing; (b) avoiding suppression, (c) getting supportive communication (emotional support, sympathy and condolence, concern and encouragement).

  3. Try these alternative grief management tools: (Michael’s Sound Bite 4-4):(a) identify your feelings by writing a diary of what you are thinking; (b) accept your feelings by talking to people about it; (c) express your emotions freely, (d) don’t rush yourself and (e) do good things for yourself. http://www.webmd.com/balance/managing-your-feelings-of-grief

  4. Deeply entrenched grief is a psychological problem.


I. Opening Story: Starting the Discussion

A. Michael’s Instructions V. Managing Your Emotional Expression:While not obligatory for reading, the opening story in each chapter sets the mood for the rest of the reading. Stephen chooses stories that relate to several concepts in the chapter and talks about these concepts in general terms.

B. Read the opening storyand identify three concepts from the chapter that characterize the communication process in the situation.

C. Then:(a) think of similar examples in your life, (b) remember the actions that the hero of the story, you, and other people around you took when they faced the situation; (c) think of the ways these actions influenced V. Managing Your Emotional Expression everyone involved; (d) suggest the ways which your naïve knowledge of communication offered you as remedies for whatever did not work in communication in that particular instance; (e) discuss how your scientific knowledgeof communication changes your perception, and list three things that you would do now if you faced a similar situation in the future

D. An essay on the opening story can be used as an extra credit opportunity.If you would like to get more points, write a six-paragraph essay answering the questions above in good paragraphs (1 opening sentence, 2-3 main idea sentences, 1 summary and transition V. Managing Your Emotional Expression sentence). Make note that although this assignment is long and fairly difficult, you will be given only 10 points for it. The reason for it is that the extra credit points must be extra hard to get.


Two teenage sisters, growing up in eighteenth-century England. One with “regular features and a remarkably pretty figure,” the other “more striking . . . her face so lovely that in the common cant of praise she was called a beautiful girl.”1 Two sisters, doomed to live parallel lives of emotional heartbreak. Two sisters, similar in many ways except one: their firm beliefs regarding how V. Managing Your Emotional Expression best

to manage life’s deepest joys, passions, and sorrows.

Published in 1811 (and reenacted in the 1995 movie), Jane Austen’s novel Sense and Sensibility tells the story of the Dashwood family, focusing on the romantic entanglements and resulting emotions of sisters Elinor and Marianne. United in family and friendship, the sisters are divided in their views on expressing emotion. Marianne believes that emotions should be openly vented; Elinor maintains they should be silenced (Ballaster, 1995).

Throughout the story, Elinor and Marianne clash over how emotion should be communicated in relationships. Elinor falls in love with Edward, an unassuming English gentleman. Knowing V. Managing Your Emotional Expression her family’s tendency to exaggeration, Elinor tempers her words carefully when sharing her feelings about Edward: “I do not attempt to deny that I think very highly of him—that I greatly esteem, that I like him.” Marianne is outraged by such tepid expression of romantic passion. “Esteem him! Like him! Cold-hearted Elinor! Use those words again and I will leave the room this moment.”

When Marianne falls for Willoughby, a dashingly handsome and equally ardent connoisseur of life’s passions, her expressions of love contrast sharply with Elinor’s cool reserve. Marianne’s uninhibited communication prompts V. Managing Your Emotional Expression Elinor to chide her, provoking Marianne to lash back: “I see what you mean. I have been open and sincere where I ought to have been reserved, spiritless, dull, and deceitful.”

In Marianne and Elinor, Austen gave human form to rival notions of emotion management in nineteenth-century British society. Marianne embodied “sensibility”: She experienced unmediated emotional reactions and communicated them uninhibitedly (Ballaster, 1995). In extreme form, sensibility is characterized by selfish wallowing in emotion to the exclusion of concern for others. The opposite of sensibility is “sense,” personified by Elinor. People who use this approach to emotion management perceive V. Managing Your Emotional Expression the surrounding world in a dispassionate fashion and suppress their emotions for the betterment of others (Ballaster, 1995).

In her novel, Austen pits Elinor’s sense against Marianne’s sensibility, demonstrating how these rival approaches lead the sisters to respond to similar events in contrasting ways. For example, when Marianne discovers that Willoughby is engaged, she explodes into hysterics and sinks into a deep depression. When Elinor finds out that Edward is betrothed, she suppresses her reaction so as not to worry her sisters and mother. Importantly, neither response yields particularly positive outcomes. Elinor suffers months of unspoken torment V. Managing Your Emotional Expression because of her sense, and Marianne falls gravely ill owing to her sensibility.

Two hundred years ago, Jane Austen used rival approaches to managing emotional experience and expression as narrative tools to divide fictional characters. Today, sense and sensibility continue to divide many of us from constructive relationship outcomes that would be attainable by managing our emotions differently. But we needn’t emulate Elinor or Marianne. Instead, we can learn to skillfully manage our emotions in ways that avoid extremes of sense and sensibility, improve our communication, and create satisfying interpersonal relationships.

II. Terms

In your essays for this course it V. Managing Your Emotional Expression is very important to use the terminology of communication science. Therefore, take time to learn the terms and their meanings in each chapter. In the face-to-face version of this course, various interactive techniques will be used to test your knowledge of the major terms. In the online version of the class you will review the terms independently. Make sure you use the terms referred to below in your essays.

Agreeableness Anger Blended emotions Degree of neuroticism Display rules Ellis 5-Step Model Emotional intelligence Emotional management Emotions Extraversion Feelings Grief Moods Passion Prevention of emotions V. Managing Your Emotional Expression Primary emotions Reappraisal of emotions Suppression of emotions Venting of emotions

III. Names

It is very important to remember the names of scholars who contributed to communication theory. Your essays will sound more professional if you make reference to the people mentioned in this brochure. In the face-to-face version of this course, and in the audio lectures that accompany the online version of this course the names of these scholars will be routinely used to refer to various concepts. Study the names of communication scholars and try to remember their contribution to the science.

Argyle, Michael Berkowitz, Len V. Managing Your Emotional Expression Berscheid, Ellen Burleson, Brant Cacioppo, John T. Ekman, Paul Ellis, Albert Gross, James Harmon-Jones, Eddie Plutchik, Robert Suler, John Tavris, Carol

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