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How Expansive is Your Emotional Vocabulary?

Feelings and Needs We All Have

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The lists below are used throughout Nonviolent Communication (NVC) training, books and workbooks to help you better express a whole range of emotional states. They can also help you more easily connect to what you need in the moment. This list will help refer to specific emotions, rather than words that are vague or general. Words such as good and bad prevent the listener from connecting easily with what you might actually be feeling.

For example, if we say, "I feel good about that," the word good could mean happy, excited, relieved or any number of other emotions. In turn, in expressing our needs, we can often get tied to mixing up a basic human need like "support" with a strategy used to meet that need like "help with the housework," (as in "I need support," versus "I need you to help with the housework.") Use the list below to practice getting as specific in your expression as possible.

Feelings and Needs


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