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Claude Steiner

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Notes from Steiner's Artical in the book "The Radical Therapist"

Exceprts from Acheiving Emotional Litearcy (note - Steiner defines emotional literacy much more broadly than I do. Here is my page on emotional literacy.- S.Hein


The field of emotional intelligence in the workplace has lost its edge; it is being used to help companies spot bright-eyed, self controlled, hard-working employees. (see more below)


Steiner urges us to take responsibility for the way our emotions "affect others" including the "emotional damage" we cause.


Repairing emotional damage 

Do you know how to apologize and make amends? Being human, we all make emotional mistakes and hurt others. But we must learn to recognize what we have done wrong and fix it. To do this, we have to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and make amends.


We squander huge stocks of emotional energy when we block the expression of our emotions. Whether it's keeping silent about a shameful trauma, holding in our affectionate enthusiasm so as not to embarrass ourselves, or locking away a painful memory, we waste shocking amounts of energy repressing our feelings. Letting go of these feelings not only releases the power of our emotions, it also gives us back the energy we wasted pushing them down. And letting others express their emotions brings them closer to us


Critique of Steiners "Ten Commandments"of What He Calls Emotional Literacy

More crticisms, comments etc.

Below are some unedited notes on his work and a copy of his writing on what he calls emotional literacy

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On Emotional Intelligence

The field of emotional intelligence in the workplace has lost its edge; it is being used to help companies spot bright-eyed, self controlled, hard-working employees.

Emotional skills are a great deal more than positive attitudes and impulse control; they can humanize and improve any enterprise beyond anything that has been experienced so far and their potential is being squandered on diluted, half measures. I fear that emotional intelligence is morphing into yet another corporate, human engineering lubricant with little specific relationship to emotional literacy.

On the other hand, EQ has also become a subject matter in schools, where thousands of devoted teachers are applying one or more of the scores of EQ teaching aids developed by as many companies. Here the results seem more promising, because what is being taught is unquestionably beneficial. Children are being educated about their different feelings, how to speak about them and how to express and control them. They are being trained with a kind-hearted attitude and a focus on developing friendly, cooperative relationships. Evidence suggests that these efforts are having beneficial results, at least in terms of the decreasing amounts of aggression being seen in the schools that teach the subject.[ii] Still, none of these programs focus on the heart centered techniques that are at the core of this book, techniques which in my opinion would greatly amplify the beneficial effects of emotional literacy training for children and adolescents.


xx - I don' like "commandments" - sounds too preachy

I. Place love at the center of your emotional life. Heart-centered emotional intelligence empowers everyone it touches.

xx over-uses love, uses emotional intelligence and emotional literacy interchangably.

II. Emotional Literacy requires that you not lie by omission or commission. Except where your safety or the safety of others is concerned, do not lie.

xx this is what I would call emotional honesty. And it is not safe for many teens to be emotinally honest.

also, one can be emotionally lterate but still not emotionally honest with everyone. for example what I call a teen prisoner could be emotionally literate but only express their true feelings in their journal or with a safe online friend and confidant.

III. Stand up for how you feel and what you want. If you don't, it is not likely that anyone else will.

- agree

IV. Emotional Literacy requires that you do not power play others. Gently but firmly ask instead for what you want until you are satisfied.

xx nice idea but it has little to do with either emotional intelligence or emotional literacy. it is more about self-esteem. If a person's self-esteem is high they will be more assertive in a "gentle but firm" way. Again, this does not really apply to teens because they are not in control of their lives.

xx Generally I agree but does this mean he would want his child to keep asking for something after he said 'No'?

V. Do not allow yourself to be power played. Gently but firmly refuse to do anything you are not willing to do of your own free will.

xx Again, I generally agree, but I don't think he would like it if his child refused to do anything they didn't want to do.

VI. Respect the ideas, feelings and wishes of others as much as you do your own. Respecting ideas does not mean that you have to submit to them.

xx Again, not much to do with emotional literacy or emotional intelligence. Respect is respect. He mixes terms a lot. And again, he is not thinking of a teenager's situation where they will be punished or hurt in some way if they don't obey/submit.

VII. Apologize and make amends for your mistakes. Nothing will grow you faster.

Another nice idea which is not very related to E. literacy or EI.

VIII. Do not accept false apologies. They are worth less than no apologies at all.

xx I am not too sure why he put this in and what he really means. And how do you know when an apology is false? Especially if you are asking for them rather than letting them be given to you spontaneously.

IX. Love yourself, others and truth in equal parts. Never sacrifice one to the other,

xx More like self-esteem.

X. Follow these commandments according to your best judgment. After all, they are not written in stone.

xx He makes it sound like they are though!

Concerns, Criticism, Suggestions

I have not finished reading all the chapters, but here are my critical notes so far.... S. Hein

From Chapter 3

Here is a quote which I will analyze as farily representative of Steiner's writing style. Below are my concerns.

People make mistakes in their relationships, little ones and big ones. When you make a mistake you need to apologize and take responsibility for what you did. It also stands to reason that you should make amends and correct your behavior so the mistake won't happen again. But these steps are easier said than done. Very few people are emotionally skilled enough to apologize sincerely, and without any defensiveness.


People make mistakes in their relationships, little ones and big ones.

Telling us what we "should do" and "need" to do:

When you make a mistake you need to apologize and take responsibility for what you did.

It also stands to reason that you should make amends and correct your behavior so the mistake won't happen again.

Telling us what we "need" to do is attempting to control our behavior rather than helping us on a deeper emotional level. See also my page on the word "should"

Terminology -

Very few people are emotionally skilled enough to apologize sincerely, and without any defensiveness.


In the above example he talks about being sufficiently emotionally "skilled" to apologize "sincerely" and "without any defensiveness". I believe that sincerity and lack of defensiveness are more a matter of the actual feelings behind the words, rather than a form of skill. For example, I might be able to say or write words such as "Thank you for letting me know how my actions hurt you. I sincerely regret my behavior. Please accept my apologies and please let me know in the future if anything I do bothers you." Yet, I might still be feeling justified for what I did, unapologetic and defensive. If so, the other person will sense this no matter what words I use, especially if the message is delivered verbally in person, where the body language will reveal the true feelings.

To truly feel remorseful seems to require that we feel real empathy. To feel empathy seems to require that we feel secure enough in ourselves not to feel defensive. These feelings are much harder to attain than simple skills and techniques of communicating. They require that we actually change how we feel about ourselves -- a much more difficult task than changing our outward behavior.

I would suggest Steiner say "few people have the emotional security, awareness and skills, in combination with enough emotional honesty, to apologize sincerely without even feeling defensive."


Later we see the emphasis on behavior again as Steiner says, "Taking responsibility for our actions and correcting our behavior is the final phase of emotional literacy training." While I agree that it is helpful to society if we take responsibility for our actions and correct our behavior, I believe the emphasis is better placed on the feelings underlying the behavior. If the underlying feelings are healthy, the pro-social behavior will naturally follow. Steiner may agree with me, but if so it could be stated more clearly.

On responsibility

Steiner talks a lot about taking responsibilty, but it is usually referring to responsibility for our actions and behavior.

Example: "Now they were ready to accept responsibility for their actions."

Taking responsibility: You admit that you have made minor and major mistakes and hurt people in your relationships. You apologize and make amends.

SH - This sounds like something from the Ten Step Program for Alcoholics - see the EQI adaptation

Stage Three: Taking Responsibility

10. Apologizing for Our Mistakes

11. Accepting Apologies

12. Rejecting Apologies

13. Asking for Forgiveness

14. Granting Forgiveness

15. Denying Forgiveness

The conerns I have are: 1) He doesn't go into much detail about how to take responsibility for our actions, other than taking action after the fact, such as apologizing, making amends and trying to correct future behavior. While these are all helpful, I would like to see him discuss how we can use our feelings and our reason in a preventative way. For example, in my work I discuss the importance of using our feelings to help us predict how we will feel if we do something and how others will feel. If we are in touch with our feelings our predictions will tend to be accurate, which will in turn help prevent us from hurting people and doing things we later regret.

Another suggestion would be that he address taking responsibility for our own feelings. The way I recommend we do this is by changing our thinking. For example, rather than saying "you make me feel jealous", I recommend we say "I feel jealous because I feel insecure and afraid I will lose you."


Steiner places more emphasis on controlling our emotions rather than using them to assist us.

Are you in control of your emotions?


Steiner uses subjective words like "mistakes," "errors," "proper" more often than I felt comfortable with. This suggest to me he is thinking a little too much in terms of right and wrong.

Telling us what we need to do, should do, must do, have to do

"...we have to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and make amends."

"Opening the heart"

not very helpful steps - example:

Training to Be Emotionally Literate

Stage One: Opening the Heart

1. Giving Strokes

2. Asking for Strokes

3. Accepting Strokes

4. Rejecting Strokes

5. Giving Ourselves Strokes

Stage Two: Surveying the


He uses the word should 10 times in chapter 1-3

70+ love's

45 heart's

too many must's and need to's

control (used in context of controlling our emotions)



mistake(s), error, right/ wrong

These terms make it sound a little preachy.





Some comments about Claude Steiner's book Emotional Literacy;  Intelligence with a Heart


Steiner urges us to take responsibility for the way our emotions "affect others" including the "emotional damage" we cause.

He talks about times we have "chosen not to take responsibility for an improper action.


Repairing emotional damage 

Do you know how to apologize and make amends? Being human, we all make emotional mistakes and hurt others. But we must learn to recognize what we have done wrong and fix it. To do this, we have to take responsibility, ask for forgiveness, and make amends.


We squander huge stocks of emotional energy when we block the expression of our emotions. Whether it's keeping silent about a shameful trauma, holding in our affectionate enthusiasm so as not to embarrass ourselves, or locking away a painful memory, we waste shocking amounts of energy repressing our feelings. Letting go of these feelings not only releases the power of our emotions, it also gives us back the energy we wasted pushing them down. And letting others express their emotions brings them closer to us... Chapter 3




Excerpts from Achieving Emotional Literacy

Chapter 8

If you are in a position to supervise people then you will be able to put some of these principles into practice. Discreetly ask permission whenever you bring up emotionally loaded material. You can give strokes and ask for strokes. You can gladly accept strokes you want and politely reject strokes you don't want. You can even give yourself strokes. Practice telling people how their actions make you feel and get them to hear you without being defensive. Listen to their feelings. State your intuitive hunches and attempt to extract validation for them. If you do this in an open-hearted and flexible manner most people will be receptive, since you are in a position to protect them from power plays. As the boss, however, you will be responsible to make sure that you are not forcing these ideas on powerless and unwilling people who have to go along with you.

As an example, let's assume that you are a line supervisor in a factory with twenty five workers under you. You enjoy being friendly with your workers and you like to be treated in a friendly way. One of your best workers seems to be unhappy at work. She does not greet you in her usual friendly fashion and she seems withdrawn from other workers. Your intuition tells you that there is something wrong and you decide to investigate in an emotionally literate fashion. You approach Paula on her break.

"How are you today, Paula?"


"May I ask you a question?"

She nods. You must make sure that Paula is genuinely willing. "Are you sure? I don't want to intrude." The tone of your voice will have everything to do with her feeling that she has a choice. You must really mean that she is free to decline your question.

Let's say you gain her permission.

"Well, I have noticed that you seem quiet. I have a hunch that something is upsetting you."

"Oh no, everything is okay," she says unconvincingly. Normally, in a cooperative situation, it would be perfectly permissible to insist on more of an answer. But in this instance, if you insist you could be abusing your power; she may not want to tell you what's wrong or talk to you at all.

"Well, I'm glad. Can I tell you how I feel?"

Again, she nods.

"When you are so quiet I get worried that something is wrong. And I would be sad if there is something I could help with, and you didn't ask."

She looks at you dubiously.

"Do you believe me?"

She nods again.

"Okay, well please keep in mind that I am here to be helpful if I can. Let me know if there is anything you want me to do."

With that you best leave the situation alone. You may feel sad or even angered by Paula's unwillingness to talk to you. You may be mistaken that there is anything wrong. In any case you have laid a foundation for future emotionally literate conversations with Paula. If you behave in this manner reliably you will acquire a good reputation with your workers and hopefully with your superiors. You may actually be able to demonstrate that this approach improves morale and productivity with your workers and even succeed in having other supervisors try it.

For a person in a position of power, apologizing is a good way of demonstrating that you really mean to be emotionally literate. You will obviously make mistakes, and in the traditional workplace these mistakes are usually not acknowledged. It will be truly impressive to your workers if you seem cognizant of your errors, admit them, and apologize and make amends to those you may have affected badly with them.

see tempfile stein1.htm for book 1

stein2.htm for 2



about 27 shoulds

interchanges emotional literacy and emotional intelligence, slips in EQ a few times.



Emotional Literacy; 

Intelligence with a Heart

by  Claude Steiner PhD

Copyright 2000


Emotional Literacy in the Real World

(17K words)

Chapter 7; Loving Parenting and Working

Chapter 8; The Emotional Warrior

Chapter 9; One Last Word

Notes for Philosophers with references



Emotional Literacy has value in nearly every aspect of daily life. If you practice the steps that you have just read, chances are that all your relationships will improve. Most important is that you'll see changes in yourself as a result of changing your methods of dealing with others. You will find that these techniques not only clarify the emotional world around you, they clarify the world inside of you as well.

There are three situations that require special attention: loving relationships, raising children, and workplace relations. Let's begin with loving relationships.


Finding and maintaining a good partnership is difficult. Many people have discovered that the old system of domination/submission, where one person, usually the man, leads, and the other follows, is largely obsolete. One of the most important reasons why it has become unworkable is that the in the old system the man’s emotional needs took priority while the woman’s priorities were usually not even perceived and if perceived ridiculed as childish, and overlooked. Consequently after a few years of marriage (about seven, on average) many women became unable to take the neglect and rebelled furiously or went mad with frustration.

Still, people who sincerely believe in equality today often fall back into the traditional, subtly influential patterns of inequality. In relationships between men and women, men still tend to dominate, while women find it hard to assert themselves; they need to be vigilant and work continuously to maintain the goals of partnership in which emotional needs are met equally.

People are genuinely confused about how to make relationshiops work. Its no wonder that more and more people are simply giving up and living alone. The answer for those who want to engage in relationships of equality is emotional literacy based on:

xx • a conviction that both partners have equal rights in the relationship,

xx term • an agreement not to power play each other, and

• a commitment to honesty.

Equality, honesty, and agreements.

My recommendation for those who want an emotionally literate relationship is to quickly establish a cooperative contract based on equality and honesty. In a cooperative relationship:

neither person tries to manipulate the other with power plays and

neither does anything he or she doesn't want to do and they

both gently and lovingly ask for everything they want while

listening empathically to what the other needs.

xx terms These ground rules will require that you overcome the old established patterns of power playing, rescuing, and lying. These changes are not easy and will not come overnight, but you will find that the energy and optimism released in this process will invigorate any relationship, new or old. When mistakes are made from time to time, apologies and amends keep the relationship on a positive, cooperative course.


Equality is based on the idea that both people need to have equal rights and should make an equal contribution toward the relationship's success. The idea that people have equal rights doesn't mean that people can't differ from each other for a relationship to work. Especially between men and women, who are in many ways different, it simply means that those differences don't give one person privilege over the other.

xx term privilege + not a good definition of equality

Equal contribution does not mean that both partners have to work and earn the same or that expenses and housework are shared fifty-fifty. Equality in an emotionally literate relationship means that both partners contribute what they have to offer in such a way that both feel satisfied. If they become dissatisfied with the other's contribution they must feel free to say so with the assurance that their partners will work toward a fair compromise.

xx i don't know what I would call what he is describing but I wouldn't call it equality


Honesty is the most important agreement in a relationship between equals. No one enters into a serious relationship expecting to be lied to. In fact, it is assumed that two people in love should not lie to each other at all. Many relationships are consecrated in ceremonies in which vows are made: "For richer or for poorer, in sickness or health, to honor, love, and cherish..." These vows don't normally include a vow to be completely honest. Small wonder since by that time, in most relationships, at least one of the participants has already lied about something. Sometimes both have.

Even in the most honest of relationships, something a few things have been swept under the rug. Maybe she has always longed for more strokes about her looks, but felt too embarrassed to ask for them. Or perhaps he has not been honest about his dissatisfaction with their lovemaking. Even the smallest lie or secret has a damaging effect on an intimate relatiomnhip because it can be the seed for further and bigger dishonesty and in a long-term relationship, the situation becomes even more delicate.

When a long term couple tries to clean the slate of lies and secrets, there may be dark secrets that could truly upset the other person. Maybe there has been a one-night stand or even a full-blown affair with a third person. Or maybe one partner has recklessly spent money from the joint account without telling the other. Maybe there is some long-term unhappiness or deep dissatisfaction with the other's looks, intelligence, sense of humor, or sexual style. If that is the case it may be a good idea to reveal these secrets with the help of a third person; a trusted friend, a therapist, or a minister.

Lies of omission, usually about sex, money, or appearance cannot be allowed to remain secret in an emotionally literate relationship. They must be revealed. If a partner with a secret does not reveal it and the other partner finds out, it is my experience that the lie hurts more than the misdeed itself. How long the secret has been kept, how many others know about it, and all the ramifications of the lie are often so devastating that they can permanently damage or wreck the relationship. It is difficult to forgive missteps, but far more difficult to forgive the lies that surround them.

Even people who claim that they would "rather not know" if their partner has strayed, will likely find the truth extremely humiliating and hurtful. When we condone secrets and say "I'd rather not know," we have probably not anticipated how terrible it would feel to unwittingly discover such a secret. That is why lying is so damaging and why it needs to be removed from any emotionally literate relationship. With that in mind, let me offer some agreements to create an Emotional Literate relationship:

xx doesn't ever mention emotional honesty, or emotionally honest or emotional authenticity or emotionally authentic or even authentic

Equality takes two:

Keep in mind that an emotionally literate relationship requires both partners to work at it as equals. To do this you must grant each other equal rights and expect equal responsibilities.

xx I disagree with all this equality talk

Cooperation is the key:

xx why does he capitalize rescue? -- His terms like power playing and rescuing sound too much like either sixties language or the language of recovery programs like the 12 step programs.

Agree with your partner to have a relationship of equality free of power plays, especially lies and Rescues. Make it clear that you want a relationship in which both of you ask for everything you want and don't do anything that you don't want to do. Start talking about a cooperative relationship right away. If you are getting involved in a new relationship, begin talking about this notion as soon as you feel that the relationship has long-term potential. This is especially important if you are in love, where everything is seen through a rose-colored mist. Just talking frankly about issues will bring clarity and reality to your budding rapport.

Fran and John are in love. They are lying in the grass, warmed by the spring sunshine on their day off. Both have agreed that they would like to get married. She has been married before with bad results and wants to do better this time.

Fran: "John, can I bring up something that I would like us to talk about before we get married?"

John: "Sure, what is it?"

F: "I have been reading a book about how to have an emotionally literate relationship."

J: "What kind of a relationship?"

F: "It's a relationship in which you are emotionally involved and aware. A cooperative relationship where both people agree ahead of time about some things."

J: "What things?"

F: "Well, this book talks about an honest relationship between equals and I really liked what it says; the idea is that we agree to always say what we want and to make sure that we never get pressured into doing things we don't want to do."

J: "I like that. But it seems like we already do it. Don't you think?"

F: "I know we both want to, but sometimes I think we don't, actually."

J: "Like when?"

F: "I think we both lie about what we want and go along with the other person sometimes. Like this morning when we went to the Blue Barn for breakfast. I really wanted to go to the Brick Shack, but I lied because I wanted to please you."

J: "Lied? Isn't that what being generous is all about?"

F: "In Achieving Emotional Literacy it's called Rescuing, and it's not good because after a while the person who Rescues gets angry. Usually it's me who goes along with you."

J: "I know you do and I love that about you; you spoil me. Does that mean you are going to get mad at me later?"

F: "Could be, that’s what happened in my previous marriage, and I really don't want that again. And maybe there is stuff you are going along with that I don't know about. Is there?"

J: "Well a couple of things, but I don't mind..."

F: "Well, I think Steiner is right; it would be better if we were completely honest about that kind of a thing. What are you going along with?"

xx sounds dorky to name the book and use his name

J: "Why do you want me to look for things to complain about? I love you!"

F: "I just want us to learn to have a cooperative, honest relationship."

J: "I'll try." He thinks for a moment. "Okay. the truth is I would rather not meet all your girlfriends and hang out with them the way we do..."

F: "Really."

J: "It's just not something I'm into. It's not very interesting. I mean, I want to meet them, but I don't want to make a special point to spend time with each of them. I don't have the time to get to know every one of your friends, you know. Also ... I'm sorry, is this too hard on you?"

F: "A little, but it's okay, let's go ahead. Thanks for asking."

J: "Okay, if you're sure." With a concerned look he continues. "I'm really glad you introduced me to your parents. But I'm not that much into family things, like your aunt's Thanksgiving party. That was a bit much for me, meeting all these people who don't seem that important to us."

F: "Okay" she answers in a subdued voice. "I mean, I'm disappointed and embarrassed now to think that I introduced you to everyone so enthusiastically and you were wishing you were somewhere else."

J: "It wasn't that bad, I'd just rather pass."

F: "Well. I really do like spending time with my family. I have ever since I was a kid. But if you don't want to come along I'll just go by myself."

A thoughtful silence ensues. John begins again. "I'll tell you what, why don't you tell me which events are really important to you and I'll go with you to those. Maybe you can go early and I'll meet you a little later, so I don't have to stay as long."

F: "That sounds fair."

They hold each other tightly. They both have a bit to think about, but Fran was proud of herself for initiating an emotionally literate dialogue, and John was relieved to have gotten out of some unwanted social obligations.

You may wonder why two happy young lovers should start discussing the small dissatisfactions which seem wholly unimportant compared to the wonderful love they feel for each other. But these are the things which, when the rosy light of new love begins to soften and reality returns, often drive apart couples who once thought nothing could ever come between them. Fran learned this the hard way with her first marriage. She is right to take the initiative and start a dialogue about ground rules which establish a level of honesty and awareness that later will be very important to avoid another emotional disaster.

Honesty is the best policy:

Does your partner know enough about you to have a unclouded view of who you are? If not, be brave and fill in the picture. Honesty is frightening, but it pays off when it builds a stronger, more intimate relationship.

If you have information that you are keeping secret, plan to tell your partner as soon as possible. Hoping for a better time to bring it up usually doesn't work because that better time rarely comes. Instead of waiting, just do it now.

Realize that honesty includes saying what you want, talking about how you feel, and asking for apologies when you can't let go of a partner's misdeed.

xx disagree with asking for an apology

Sloan and Carol have been married for a couple of years. Theirs is a good relationship that dates back to high school, where they were voted cutest couple by their senior class. In a romantic moment Carol tells Sloan how good it feels to her that they haven't had sex with anyone but each other.

Sloan swallows hard. It turns out that three years ago, during a six month separation in which they reassessed their relationship, he had a one-night stand with an acquaintance of Carol's. He did not tell Carol, telling himself that it was not part of their agreement to do so. Now, however, he feels that he must speak up:

"Carol, how do you feel about the idea that if we are going to have a long-term relationship there should be no secrets or lies between us?"

Carol looks alarmed. "Why, have you been lying to me about something?!"

Sloan looks into Carol's eyes. "No, Carol, I don't think so, and I don't want to start now. Let's sit down. There is something that I never realized until now that I need to tell you. Can I tell you?"

"What is it, for God's sake!"

Sloan walks Carol over to the couch. Looking in her eyes he asks, "Do you remember the time we were separated back in college?"

"Yes," she answers, beginning to realize what he's about to say.

"Well, I never stopped thinking about you during those months, but I also thought you might decide that you didn't want to be with me anymore. I was trying to get used to whatever might happen, and I was very depressed. One night, I went on a date with Suzie Green."

"My old friend Susan?" she said with a shrill sound invading her voice. She always felt a little insecure beside the beautiful and popular Susan.

"Yeah. I think I should tell you about that date."

"Oh God, Sloan!"

"I'm sorry. I didn't think I would have to tell you. But after what you said about never having other lovers I realize now that I have to. Anyway, I want you to know everything about me."

As he looks at her and sees her expression he gets sacred. Determined to go on he asks, "Can I tell you?"

"Go ahead, tell me," she says, crying.

"I spent the night with Suzie."

She begins to cry more loudly.

"It was nothing to write home about, but it happened."

Carol looks up at him. Her eyes full of tears she puts her head against Sloan's shoulder. He tries to pull her into his arms, but she won't let him.

"Why didn't you tell me before?" she pleads.

"Even though we had agreed that we would be free to see other people, I knew it would bother you. I know it would have bothered me. I felt guilty and I told myself that we both probably slept with other people during that time, and I felt then that I didn't want to hear about your other lovers. I figured you would feel the same.

"I'm so happy to find out that I'm the only man in your life. You're the only woman I've ever loved and that's the truth, Carol. When you said before that neither of us had ever been with anyone, I felt so bad. I didn't want to lie to you when you were being so loving with me. I didn't want to confuse you and I decided that you deserve the whole truth. Now that you know I don't have to worry about hiding anything ever again."

Carol was very upset. She said she was not so much upset with the actual deed but with the idea that he had been keeping a secret from her for so long. She felt foolish to think that she had been under a false impression about her husband, the closest person in her life. She feared that this revelation would spoil her love for him. But what hurt Carol more than Sloan's one-night stand was the loss of trust.

That night, they held each other tighter than ever. It was a night to remember and it went a long way to help Carol get over her hurt feelings. Later, she even felt flattered that Sloan had preferred her over the universally sought-after Suzie. She understood why he had not told her and decided that, though it was hard to accept at first, she could live with this new information. In the future, when she momentarily found herself wondering if Sloan might be keeping any secrets from her, she was reassured by the thought that if he could tell her about that night, he would probably never lie to her about anything. She felt profoundly safe with him and her fear that this revelation would spoil their relationship did not materialize.

People will vehemently argue that this kind of honesty is unnecessary or worse an act of irresponsible, sadistic cruelty. They may argue further that a person in Sloan's position, having made a hurtful mistake should bear the burden of legitimate remorse and keep the painful information away from his wife. These arguments ignore some important facts: They ignore the damaging effect of even the smallest lie; how it can proliferate into further and bigger lies and how keeping secrets from a partner undermines the intuitive and empathic process between them. Most important they ignore the far greater pain that people feel when they find out that they have been repeatedly lied to over a long time. Imagine how Carol would feel if after five or six years of occasionally meeting Susan Green socially, she found out, through a casual remark by Susan's husband that Sloan and Susan had been lovers.

zz I agree with this kind of honesty

Housekeeping required:

I thank my good friend David Geisinger for pointing out that a relationship is only as good as its dialogue. If the dialog is thoughtful, honest and affectionate so will the relationship be.

Do put time aside for emotional housekeeping. Tell each other about your suspicions, hunches or paranoid fantasies. Listen carefully. Take the opportunity to apologize for hurts. And most of all, find time to give each other strokes.

Don't take care of emotional business during television commercials or when you are too tired to talk about them: Set aside quality time for conversation. Addressing emotional issues during a walk is a recommendation I frequently make. Another possibility is to have regular dates on which you air emotional issues.

Review, review, review... Make sure that you review agreements regularly. In this era of rapid change, agreements that made sense six months ago may no longer make sense.

xx I don't like this agreement stuff. sounds too much like contract. too much like rules. not flexible enough. especially for people whose emotions change quickly and easily. Telling someone "but I thought we agreed... or But you agreed or But we had an agreement, is likely only to bring resentment or guilt, not to encourage emotional honesty. end xx

Talk frequently about issues like money and time, especially where and how each of them should be spent.

Just because you have done things a certain way for a long time doesn't mean that is acceptable to your partner. This is especially true when it comes to sex, which can become routine and acceptable to one person and not acceptable to the other.

Be flexible:

Be willing to change your agreements, even after you have negotiated them extensively. Accept change and new points of view. After all, the goal is for both of you to work together in cooperation and produce feelings of affection and hope rather than resentment and despair.

Bill and Hillary are both very busy people. They have no children and are work very hard. When they finally get together in the evenings they rush through dinner and barely have enough energy for some chores and a little television in bed. They cuddle while watching TV and usually fall asleep before the set turns itself off.

Without talking about it they seem to have agreed to avoid difficult emotional issues. Hillary has been feeling that she is not getting enough intimate discussion time to process some of the problems they have been sweeping under the rug.

One morning as they are getting ready to go to work, Hillary suggests that they take Saturday morning off, drive to the hiking trail and talk over some subjects. Bill balks at first because he has a golf date, but Hillary insists that he cancel it and he eventually agrees. On Saturday as they start on their hike Hillary says:

"I'm worried that we are drifting apart. Even though we seem to get along and love each other, I am afraid that things are building up between us that feel bad, to me anyway."

"Well, I am feeling okay about things," Bill says. "Is there something you are unhappy about?"

"See, that could be a problem right there. You don't seem to notice that we have these little disagreements which usually end up in one of us, mostly me, going along with you in order to avoid trouble. I keep thinking I am too tired or we'll deal with it tomorrow or that maybe I am being petty but I'm beginning to feel bad..."

Bill interrupted, "I realize we are having these little problems but I thought we were dealing with them as we go. I feel okay about them."

"Maybe that is the first problem to talk about, because I am not feeling so good. When you say that you think that these problems are being solved ... Can I tell you how I feel?"

Bill nods.

"Actually" Hillary says, "I feel very angry."

Bill nods again, but he is shaken. Hillary goes on.

"Can I tell you what I am guessing? I suspect that when we disagree you don't realize that most of the time I am going along with you just to keep a good feeling going."

Bill, somewhat annoyed, says "I had no idea. I assumed that we are coming to our agreements honestly. This is upsetting, really."

For the next half hour Hillary recalled a number of incidents where somehow things had gone Bill's way. Some of the incidents were admittedly very unimportant, like the fact that on a crowded sidewalk Bill always walks ahead, or that he almost always drives when they are together, or that he won't make suggestions about restaurants when they go out, or that he is often distracted when they speak.

All of this is building some anger in Hillary. He points out that she goes along so he didn't realize she was upset. In fact, he is annoyed at her for going along with him against her better judgment. She agrees, but says that she is often just too worn out to struggle about these things, and that she would like him to be more aware of these subtle tensions between them. The conversation becomes argumentative and heated. They both realize, Hillary is first to point it out, that they need to cool out. After some minutes they apologize to each other: Hillary for Rescuing him, Bill for subtly power playing her.

They resume their conversation and it seems that the most serious problem was that they didn't have enough time with each other to make Hillary happy.

Bill was content to sit together and watch TV, sleep together, make love in the mornings or on weekends, and have a few meals out, and for a while Hillary was okay with this too. But she was beginning to dislike the way sex had become more and more business-like. Even though they had agreed that sex in the mornings would be the best time for both of them, she was beginning to resent its clock-like regularity.

"I don't want to have sex in the mornings anymore," she blurted out.

"Well, when then? You say yourself that we are too tired in the evenings, we are both morning people..."

"Well, I guess I want us to take time in the evenings, take a whole evening off after dinner go out for a drink, talk, get reacquainted with each other's changing lives."

Bill was alarmed by this proposal. He had been happy with their arrangements and he feared that this would take too much time out of their precisely timed lives. He hesitated, and Hillary felt irritated. Their tempers flared and just as they were about to change the subject, Hillary said,

"See, this is the way it always goes. We don't deal with our disagreements, and if I let this go we would be back where we started. Let's stay with this please."

They talked for another hour and arrived at some new decisions. Bill realized he hadn't been making his wife a priority. He was willing to try Hillary's unsettling proposal. They also agreed to have one of these "housekeeping walks" once a month.

In the end things did not go exactly as planned but they did take off one evening a week, television-free, to just be with each other and make love. Their walks sometimes only happened every three months. But all in all this discussion had a very beneficial effect. They were flexible in reviewing their agreements and they established a way for their relationship to continue on an emotionally literate basis.

xx sounds too contractual, too planned, too routine - taking one night a week off to make love?? I would not call this a very good relationship. If they take one night off from tv they are spending six watching it! I'd say one night watching tv would be a better balance, if any tv at all! dialogs sound a little simplistic. Seems to be writing for the women who read Men are From Mars... books.


Emotional Literacy is best developed in childhood, when information is learned by example. Learning skills when you are young, while that window of opportunity is open, is very different from learning them later in life. Reading, for example, is easily learned in our youth. Yet an illiterate adult can have a very difficult time learning to read. The same is true of other skills, such as playing sports, learning foreign languages, music, and, yes, emotional literacy.

It is during this critical learning period that children establish their various life long attitudes. They begin to visualize themselves as good or bad, skillful or clumsy, happy or unhappy. They may even think of themselves as fantasy characters. Some children, for instance, will identify with Snow White or one of the Seven Dwarfs. Others will see themselves as Superman or Lois Lane, the Pied Piper or Little Red Riding Hood, even Jesus Christ or the Devil. They will also adopt the emotional habits that fit their view of themselves: grumpy, sweet, imperturbable, impatient, scheming, saintly or wicked. And once children start acting a certain way, they will be seen by others in that way and will get labeled bad or good, happy or unhappy, gentle or violent.

For the most part, children learn these emotional patterns from parents and others around them. Once adopted, these habits become patterns or scripts about what life is and what it will be like. These scripts can last a lifetime unless something is done to change them.

• The child that is habitually sad and afraid may become an adult who is depressed and suicidal.

• The child that learns to suppress his tears may become hard-hearted.

• The child that can't control her tantrums may become prone to addictive behaviors as an adult.

The Wrong Way and the Right Way.

As an example of how emotional patterns are established by parents, let's look at a typical household "minitragedy" and two ways it might be handled by parents.

First, the emotionally illiterate way:

Matthew, a five-year-old, has just fallen from a chair while trying to sneak some cookies. He is crying loudly. Not only does his knee hurt from where he struck it on the floor, but he is humiliated to be caught raiding the cookie jar. He feels angry, guilty, and frightened at the same time. His father reaches the kitchen and realizes what his son has been doing.

"What happened? Did you hurt yourself?" the father asks angrily. "Stop crying!"

How is Matthew to interpret this? Is he supposed to stop feeling pain? How about his fear and guilt? Is he supposed to keep feeling these things but not cry? Angy and confused, he screams louder. If his father was emotionally literate, he would let well enough alone. Instead, he sees this as an opportunity to teach Matthew a lesson about life.

"Come on Matthew, stop being such a crybaby," he says. "You're worse than your sister." Now Matthew gets the idea that crying is bad and that girls can cry but boys cannot. He tries to suppress his crying but he can't. Frustrated, he cries even louder.

Suppose now that his father becomes even more upset and decides to continue his lesson. "Matthew, that's enough! You know better than this," he declares. "You are acting like a sissy. What were you doing on the kitchen counter anyway?"

Matthew has heard about sissies and boys who act like girls from the other kids at school. Now he decides to stop crying at all costs. He clenches his teeth together and quiets down.

"That's a good boy," says his father.

Many parents feel that it is not proper masculine behavior for boys to cry. Boys who are raised not to cry become grown men who are ashamed to cry. When such a man becomes sad enough to cry, he will hide it by lying about how he feels. Eventually, he will become so unaware of his own sadness that he will deny it even to himself. He will deny other feelings of vulnerability too, such as shame or longing. At that point he will only recognize the strongest of his emotions, such as furious anger or mad love.

Girls are treated differently. When they cry it is considered sweet or touching. Almost never are girls made to feel that it is not feminine or ladylike to cry. This may be one reason why women are generally more emotional than men.

A Better Approach.

Now let's look at a more emotionally literate response to the cookie incident. When Matthew’s father finds him crying on the floor of the kitchen he picks him up and say: "Boy are you upset. Did you hurt yourself?"

Instead of answering, Matthew lets out a loud scream. He is feeling physical hurt from the fall and guilt from getting caught stealing a cookie. "Sounds like you are mad at me," says his father, wiping away his son's tears. "Yeaaaa," says Matthew.

"Why? I'm trying to help you here," says his father. "Can I kiss your booboo?" He rocks Matthew until the boy begins to calm down. "Were you trying to get some cookies?"

Matthew begins to cry again.

"Are you feeling guilty? Are you worried I'll get mad?" Matthew doesn't answer but he is quieting down. "Well, you know I don't like you to eat so many sweets between meals, but I'm sorry you hurt yourself," says Father. "Next time don't try to get any cookies on your own, okay?"

xx zz okay but I would leave out the little lecture about "next time..."

Instead of trying to stop Matthew's crying, he has helped him understand why he was so upset. He has shown empathy while giving his son the physical strokes of hugs and kisses. After Matthew calms down, his father will have a conversation with him about what happened, how he felt, and how to avoid these melodramas in the future. As Matthew grows up, he will have learned that his feelings are valued and that he can safely express them.

EQ Guidelines for Children.

xx why EQ all of a sudden?

xx sometimes he capitalizes emotional literacy, sometimes he doesn't.

Children can begin to learn Emotional Literacy as soon as you show it to them. Eventually you can talk to them about their feelings, usually as soon as they can form a sentence. At about the age of two or three, children begin to feel guilt and are able to empathize with others so they can apologize for the hurt they caused. The same rules of cooperation that apply to adult relationships should be applied to those between children and adults. xx should Equality, honesty, and the avoidance of power plays are just as important with children, though they may need to be customized to fit the situation. That usually means that you should give children as much power as possible and be as open as you can, avoiding lies in every way possible. Here are some guidelines that will teach your child Emotional Literacy:

Keep the heart open: Kiss and hug your children often and tell them that you love them. Like all of us, they crave and enjoy affection. If you show them love through physical strokes when they are young, they will be openhearted as they grow up.

xx simplistic. love is to general, too overused. better to tell they specifically when you admire them, appreciate them, respect them

Don't power play your children: Never hit your children. By using power plays to get what you want from children, they will learn to be motivated by fear. If you do power play your children (as we all do at one time or another) make sure to apologize and explain how you felt. Offer not to do that kind of thing again. Then, with the child and perhaps other family members, work out a better method of getting them to mind you.

xx to mind you? is that the same as to obey you? How can you get someone to obey you if you are not using what he calls power plays or manipulating them etc?

xx really overuse the term power play

Three year old Sarah is fond of pushing buttons and turning dials wherever she can find them. Many times she has turned off FAX machines, readjusted the settings on stereos and TVs, made redial phone calls, and lately has been seen wanting to turn on the gas stove. Her mother, Jane, is very frightened of a gas leak and has told Sarah "No!" many times but Sarah seems to be devilishly focused on doing just that. One time Jane surprised Sarah when she was turning a gas knob. Jane lost control. Yelling at her, she gave Sarah a strong whack on her bottom. Sarah was petrified, screaming and crying loudly for a few minutes. After Sarah calmed down the following conversation took place:

xx devilishly?

"Sarah are you still upset?" Sarah nods. "Well, I got very angry and I am sorry I hit you. You are not allowed to play with the stove."

xx Not allowed?

"Yes I am."

"No, you are not. The stove is hot and it will burn you. If you do it again, you'll go to time out."

xx Debating instead of validating by saying "You really like to turn knobs and push buttons don't you?"

"No I won't, mama."

"Well if you promise to stop pushing and turning buttons I promise not to scare you any more. Do you promise to stop?"

xx this is a stupid thing to try to do -- to make a bargain with a child, an agreement or whatever you want to call it

Sarah nods imperceptibly. "Is that a yes?'" Sarah nods again. "Okay if you promise, I won't yell at you again, and you won't go to time out. And I am sorry I scared you."

Sarah starts crying again, and hugs her mother, who hugs her back. "It's okay, honey, I love you, you are a good girl."

xx you are a "good girl" -- implies there is the possibility of her being a bad girl. Sounds like "you are a good puppy."

Be sensitive to what children want, regardless of how silly it might seem. Listen empathically to them. Try to be understanding when they don't want something because it scares them, embarrasses them, or offends their sense of esthetics or taste. Be flexible when making demands.

xx don't make demands. if you demand anything you are getting yourself set up for a power struggle


Be honest: Being truthful with your children is important, second only to not abusing them with power plays. Explain to them how you feel and what you want from them. Never tell them bald-faced lies and keep your lies of omission to a minimum, making sure to be truthful as soon as possible. If you want them to be truthful, you must first be truthful with them. After all, children sense when secrets are kept from them and will learn to keep secrets from you.

If you have been honest with your children you should assume that they will be truthful with you. Given how commonplace lying is, however, you should look out for lies from children as vigilantly as you eventually will have to look out for drug use. Sooner or later your child will tell a major lie and I believe that to be an extremely important opportunity to practice what you have learned here.

xx there is no reason for them to lie if they feel safe telling you the truth. if they lie then you have frightened them into lying.

Sally, 13, has just come home from school and has gone to her room. She is staying in there longer than usual. Checking, you find her in her room reading.

"Hi Sally. Back from school?" She looks up and seems to be covering what she is reading with a book.

"What are you reading?"


xx better if mother were to say - " You don't want to tell me what you are reading? You are afraid I will disapprove?" Then the rest of the interrogation wouldn't have to take place. Mother could get right into her feeling of sadness that the daughter is afraid of her. She could also take responsibility for creating an environment where the daughter is afraid to tell her things.

"It looks like a magazine."

"I said, nothing."

By now, you can tell something is fishy. You remind yourself to stay calm, in your Adult.

xx transactional analysis terminology

"It is a magazine, isn't it?"

"Yeah, Mom." She says morosely, rolling her eyes.

"Whose is it?"

xx the mother is interrogating the child.

"Kathy's, she lent it to me."

By now Sally looks scared. Meanwhile you have gone over to her and picked up the magazine.

"This seems brand new to me. Where did you get it?"

"I told you!"

You sit down next to her, look at her averted eyes, and as kindly as possible, speaking from the heart you say: "Sally are you telling me the truth? Please don't lie to me. You know how I feel about lying. However you got this is not as important to me as you telling the truth. Just tell me and we'll work it out."

"I bought it."

"Oh good, I was afraid that maybe you stole it. I know some kids think it's cool to steal from 7-Eleven."

"Mother, I wouldn't steal. You know that!"

"Good. So how did you get the money to buy it? Tell the truth."

Sally is clearly upset. She looks down. She clams up. You wait. After a minute of silence she says: "I took the money from your wallet."

"Sally, did you really?"


Silence again. You search your feelings. You are scared by what Sally has done and you are sad that she lied to you. You are angry because she has been rebellious lately. You want to tell her that taking money from you is just as bad as stealing from 7-Eleven.

Time for an action/feeling statement.

"Sally, can I tell you how I feel about this?"

xx Would be better to ask how the daughter is feeling.

Sally shrugs and then nods. Keeping a loving tone, from the heart you say:

"When you take money from my wallet to buy a magazine, and then try to lie about it to me, it makes me feel scared and very sad and also angry. Can you understand that?"

xx why angry? why not just leave it at scared and sad. Didn't explain why she was sad or scared.

She is listening and agrees. You now have an opportunity to find out why she feels she had to steal to buy a trashy magazine. She tells you that you would not buy it for her or let her use her allowance. She tells you the magazine has interesting stories in it. You pick one up and look at the table of contents. Definitely junk.

"Well, Sally, I definitely don't like it, but on the other hand I realize that I can't stop you from being interested in it. But you are not allowed to take money from my wallet and I would like you to apologize for that. More important, I want you to agree not to lie to me. Your lying is what scares me and makes me sad. Because if you start lying we won't be able to talk the way we are used to. And that would be too bad, don't you think?"

xx back to "allowing" and "agreeing" - of course the daughter will "agree" she is being coerced. What is "too bad" anyhow? Sounds like a guilt trip and lecture. Also, another recommendation of asking for an apology, which I disagree with. It is easy to get some to say "I am sorry" when they don't feel regret, so this is encouraging emotional dishonesty.

xx Better if mother asked how Sally felt, for example, do you feel lectured to? Do you feel regret for taking the money? Do you feel disapproved of?

Sally agrees.

xx But how does Sally really feel? It is no wonder Sally is starting to feel rebellious!

Make truthfulness between you and your child the most important bond between you.

Let go of control: Give your children power by letting them take charge in games. Wrestle with them, let them hit you lightly in play, pretend to cry or get sad. This kind of behavior shows them that you are not always in control. By the same token, tell them about your feelings. If they want to know why you feel the way you do, explain it to them in short and simple sentences.

xx how can he say to let go of control after he just talked about what is allowed and what isn't allowed and after he just gave an example of coercion? It is more empowering to ask them how they are feeling and really respect their feelings.


Understand your children's demons: Be aware of your children's fears and accept them. Learn to recognize when they are afraid and why. Spiders, snakes, dogs, the dark, the boogie man, whatever frightens them is real to them and needs to be taken seriously. Talk about their fears, validate them, and help avoid them. On the other hand if you are out of control with your own emotions, shield them from this experience, since it can frighten them badly.

xx zz I agree with the validating part but why demons? why the religious terms? Why not just fears? And I am not sure about shielding them from your emotions. I think it is worse to try to repress them and hide them since this causes stress. Then you are simply making it more likely you will really blow up sometime. I suggest it is better to have more frequent small blow ups than less frequent large ones. But even better is to figure out why you have the blow ups and work on making changes in your life to reduce the things which cause stress, at the same time work on the cognitive aspects of the stress, in other words how your beliefs are causing it. This would be much better than trying to hide your true feelings from the kids.

Encourage emotionally literate media: Read emotionally literate books to your children. Take them to emotionally literate films and plays. Avoid stories containing a lot of violence and cruelty, unless they make a clear moral statement about anger and how to deal with it in a good way. The same is true of love and sex: Make sure the message is emotionally literate. Read them The Warm Fuzzy Tale, about "warm fuzzies" and "cold pricklies."

xx link would be good here. He doesn't really say what emotionally literate books, plays, films etc are. I would simply say where the characters use the verb to feel followed by feeling words. But you probably won't find many examples of this!

Teach emotional self-defense: Teach children how to defend their boundaries and reject behavior they don't want by saying, "I don't like that," or "Please stop it," or "Leave me alone." These are all acceptable and effective ways of deflecting un- wanted behavior. Role play such situations and teach them how to respond to different scenarios.

xx Ideally you would teach them to express their feelings using "I messages" rather than issuing orders and commands as in the

More examples would help here, as long as he is giving examples anyhow in the book.

Be patient: Educating children takes time, but once they've learned, the lesson will stick. Repeat your lessons over and over in a consistent manner and be sure to live what you preach. Remember: An apple doesn't fall far from the tree.


Introducing Emotional Literacy in the workplace is a subject worthy of a whole book. I can only hope to give some basic hints here.

xx I would say that teaching it to children is more worth of a whole book!

Emotional literacy is best learned when we have an agreement with people to conduct a cooperative relationship that is free of power plays and where Rescues and lies are consciously avoided. Work environments are usually just the opposite. It is in the workplace that we are most likely to find power plays and wholesale lying and keeping of secrets. In fact, some work settings encourage emotionally illiterate behavior. It is not uncommon to hear about managers who threaten workers with losing their jobs if they step out of line, or to hear about workers who are sexually harassed. Even though workers may have the law on their side, the law has no teeth without an expensive lawyer and most workers have little recourse but to submit.

Secrets about salaries, promotions and firings are routine. Most workplace power plays are not so overt, however. Subtle power plays abound, not just from bosses and management but among workers. Pecking orders develop and with them come subtle insults, secrets, gossip, lies, and hurtful humor. Even though most people realize what is going on, there is no agreement to stop these actions or to prevent them. Consequently, the workplace can be a minefield of emotionally illiterate, toxic transactions.

How can a person create an emotionally literate workplace? It isn't easy. Even in work environments that pride themselves of easygoing friendliness, a great deal of deeply entrenched emotionally illiterate behavior can be taking place.

Basically, you are proposing to replace an emotionally illiterate culture with a different one, in which power plays are not used and emotions are considered worthy of attention and respect. You can start the process of change by finding at least one person inside the organization who has the same interest in emotional literacy as you do. Then find others. You can build interest by showing this book to people or by posting a copy of the Emotional Literacy Commandments, which can be found at the end of this chapter.

Everything I have tried to teach in this book can be tried in the workplace, though it may be more difficult. Emotional literacy at work is more risky because it has to be practiced without a cooperative contract to protect you from power plays, lies, and Rescues.

Be prepared for people to refuse to cooperate, or even have a hostile reaction.

For instance, Mark, a coworker on your team, regularly makes comments about your colorful ties. You suspect that he feels competitive with you because you have some advanced computer skills that he lacks. In any case, you want to tell him that the way he keeps kidding you about your choice of ties makes you angry, but you have no idea of how to approach this touchy subject.

You wind up feeling depressed and hopeless about working with him. You realize that you have contributed to the problem by going along with the joke so far, but you would like him to stop. All the basic rules apply: you should first obtain permission from him to talk about your irritation. But in this case, because people are not used to being asked, and if asked may agree without thinking, you must be extra careful to have "informed consent" from him instead of just agreement.

"Hey, Mark, when you have a minute I'd like to pick a bone with you. Is that okay?"

Mark: (perplexed) "Yeh, sure."

"Well it's sort of a complaint, are you sure you want to hear it?"

Mark: (looking genuinely alarmed) "What did I do wrong?" "It's not that bad, but I want to make sure that you want to hear."

Mark: "Well okay. How about now?"

"Now? Later might be better, when we have a little time."

"How about after work?" "That's good. Don't worry about it, it's just something that has been troubling me. But I'm sure we'll work it out just fine ... Let's meet at the Hut."

You can see that what would take one transaction in a contractual, cooperative relationship can take several minutes of conversation in the real world. And of course it may not work out as neatly as I suggest. But that does not mean that it can't be done. In all probability, given a skillful, open-hearted approach, Mark will be primed and ready to hear your feedback and you'll be able to establish an understanding so that he will stop kidding you about your clothes.

You can give strokes, ask for strokes, accept and reject strokes just as I have explained, but again every one of these transactions will require more preparation, be more complicated and lengthy, and have more risk of backfiring.

You can deliver action/feeling statements and intuitive hunches and you can hope that you will get an emotionally literate response. If not you can try to extract a good response but that may be more difficult. For instance, you might feel that you have worked long and hard on a project for your boss and haven't gotten enough praise for it. You are feeling bad about yourself and you need strokes. Instead of just asking for permission and then simply asking for some strokes from your boss you have to approach the matter much more diplomatically.

"Helen, do you have a minute? I would like to ask you something."

"I'm busy now." Helen is not a woman of many words. You sense that she likes you, but this will not be easy.

"How about later?" you ask.

"Okay," she says without looking up from her work. Not unfriendly, just busy.

"What's a convenient time for you?"

"I'll call you in your office as soon as I'm done here. About a half an hour."

Great. Now comes the hard part.

Helen calls you in your office. "You wanted to talk?"

You are scared, your mouth is dry and at this point it feels safer to drop the matter, but you are determined and you press on, "Yes, can I come over to your office?"

"You don't want to speak on the phone?"

"I would rather speak face to face if you don't mind." There is a split second of silence.

Helen is getting the idea that this conversation is special. "Okay, come right over."

Seconds later when you get to Helen's office she looks up from her desk and beckons you in. She is clearly curious. She signals you to sit down. "So what do you have on your mind?"

"Helen, I am a bit nervous doing this, but I wanted to ask you a question. May I?"

"Sure, go ahead."

"You know that we just finished a very large project and that I worked long and hard hours on it."


"Well, I am not clear on whether you liked the job I did."

"I thought I told you that I appreciated how hard you worked on it, didn't I?"

"Yes, you did but you know I don't get any feeling that you appreciated anything but how hard I worked. I mean working hard is no guarantee of quality. Did you find the work I did particularly good?"

"Yes of course, that goes without saying."

"If you don't mind, if there is something specific you can say about it I would really appreciate hearing it. I am feeling underappreciated these days, not particularly by you, but in general. Would you mind?"

"Actually I thought the work was quite exceptional, really."

"I hate to press you on this, but could you say how so?"

"It was very creative and also very precise. I thought you knew that."

"I guess I do, but it's good to hear it from you. Thanks for indulging me. I hope this wasn't a bother for you ...

"Not at all, I am sorry that you have been feeling under-appreciated. I am very glad that you are working for me."

Of course this is a very positive scenario. Helen could have chided you for fishing for strokes or being childish. Or she could have refused to elaborate on her praise. In an emotionally illiterate environment that would not be too unusual. If this had happened you would have had to discreetly excuse yourself and leave the matter there, or use the information to improve your work. But most people even in emotionally illiterate situations want to be good to others, and the likely outcome in most of these situations will be positive.


If you are in a position to supervise people then you will be able to put some of these principles into practice. Discreetly ask permission whenever you bring up emotionally loaded material. You can give strokes and ask for strokes. You can gladly accept strokes you want and politely reject strokes you don't want. You can even give yourself strokes. Practice telling people how their actions make you feel and get them to hear you without being defensive. Listen to their feelings. State your intuitive hunches and attempt to extract validation for them. If you do this in an open-hearted and flexible manner most people will be receptive, since you are in a position to protect them from power plays. As the boss, however, you will be responsible to make sure that you are not forcing these ideas on powerless and unwilling people who have to go along with you.

As an example, let's assume that you are a line supervisor in a factory with twenty five workers under you. You enjoy being friendly with your workers and you like to be treated in a friendly way. One of your best workers seems to be unhappy at work. She does not greet you in her usual friendly fashion and she seems withdrawn from other workers. Your intuition tells you that there is something wrong and you decide to investigate in an emotionally literate fashion. You approach Paula on her break.

"How are you today, Paula?"


"May I ask you a question?"

She nods. You must make sure that Paula is genuinely willing. "Are you sure? I don't want to intrude." The tone of your voice will have everything to do with her feeling that she has a choice. You must really mean that she is free to decline your question.

Let's say you gain her permission.

"Well, I have noticed that you seem quiet. I have a hunch that something is upsetting you."

"Oh no, everything is okay," she says unconvincingly. Normally, in a cooperative situation, it would be perfectly permissible to insist on more of an answer. But in this instance, if you insist you could be abusing your power; she may not want to tell you what's wrong or talk to you at all.

"Well, I'm glad. Can I tell you how I feel?"

Again, she nods.

"When you are so quiet I get worried that something is wrong. And I would be sad if there is something I could help with, and you didn't ask."

She looks at you dubiously.

"Do you believe me?"

She nods again.

"Okay, well please keep in mind that I am here to be helpful if I can. Let me know if there is anything you want me to do."

With that you best leave the situation alone. You may feel sad or even angered by Paula's unwillingness to talk to you. You may be mistaken that there is anything wrong. In any case you have laid a foundation for future emotionally literate conversations with Paula. If you behave in this manner reliably you will acquire a good reputation with your workers and hopefully with your superiors. You may actually be able to demonstrate that this approach improves morale and productivity with your workers and even succeed in having other supervisors try it.

For a person in a position of power, apologizing is a good way of demonstrating that you really mean to be emotionally literate. You will obviously make mistakes, and in the traditional workplace these mistakes are usually not acknowledged. It will be truly impressive to your workers if you seem cognizant of your errors, admit them, and apologize and make amends to those you may have affected badly with them.

START AN EMOTIONAL LITERACY STUDY AND SUPPORT GROUP Notice who in your workplace is able to accept and even enjoy the steps of this program and stroke them for it. They are the ones who will most likely be interested in joining a support group. The ideal size of such a support group is eight to twelve people. With a group this size you can begin to institute real change. For example, a lunchtime group of this size would have a noticeable presence in most organizations and would certainly grow. You could even organize a training weekend. Possibly, the group could convince your boss to finance a weekend retreat by showing him how it would improve the mood and productivity of the workplace.

Why would these efforts create a positive transformation? Again most people, whether they believe in emotional literacy training or not, have a desire for good strokes and a need to express how they feel safely. In an environment where they give and receive all that emotional literacy training promises, they will be happier and more productive people.




xx I don't like the term "warrior"

In this book I have shown you a series of powerful techniques to increase your heart centered emotional intelligence.

xx I thought it was emotional literacy....

These techniques will help you improve your relationships in all areas of your life. They will also increase your level of personal power.

Some people have been so impressed by the results of emotional literacy training that they want to involve their friends, family, and lovers with these ideas. Some of them even believe that these ideas should become part of a moral code. Over the years I have met a number of people who have seen emotional literacy training as a tool for social change and want to apply it beyond their own personal lives. These people belong in a worldwide team of activists that I call "Emotional Warriors."


Leaders who have used any method available to stay in control have dominated people throughout history. These methods can be physical or psychological, but intimidating threats of violence are always behind them. In this system of domination, people are placed on a pyramid of power, one-up to some and one-down to others with every level controlling the level below. Secrets and the control of information are an important method of keeping power.

In the military, a classic example of a control power culture, everyone except the President has someone above he or she has to salute and obey. In this system, insubordination is severely punished, and information is closely held on a "need to know" basis.

In most corporations the employees must obey the bosses who have complete control over their work lives. Often the workers don't know their boss's intentions, or are purposely misled.

These systems of domination didn't come about by accident. They are part of the basic structure in our society known as patriarchy. In classic patriarchy, a father heads a clan or tribe, and his authority is passed down through the male line. In today's patriarchies, the father figure passes power down according to his whim--usually to one or more of his male followers, but sometimes, also, to carefully selected women.

the system is kept in place by domination, whether in government, the workplace, or in families.

xx typo on "the" above

All this domination is exercised through person-to-person transactions or power plays. The sergeant who reports a soldier for having a sloppy uniform, the boss who expects a greeting from his secretary but who doesn't himself bother to respond to the greeting, the father who smiles dismissively whenever his young daughter wants to be heard--these are all dominating power transactions.


We hardly notice how domination works, because we are immersed in it from birth. The value of transactional analysis as a tool to understand relationships can be clearly seen here. With transactional analysis you can observe power relations, analyze them and once you understand them, figure out how to avoid them in yourself and others.

After spending our childhood at the mercy of other people's whims, we accept as natural that we should be either victimizers or victims, one up to some or one down to others, leader or follower, dominator or dominated. The slapped child becomes the parent who slaps, the child who is dominated and controlled becomes the parent who dominates and controls. We accept abuse and control power as the way of the world.

If we want to fight unreasonable control and power abuse effectively, we need to fully understand how power plays work. The chart on the opposite page shows you four ways in which control power is used:

There are two main forms of control power: physical and psychological. Each can be expressed either subtly or crudely. There are four types of power plays:

I. crude physical,

II. subtle physical,

III. crude psychological, and

IV. subtle psychological.



I - Crude, Physical                                         II- Crude, Psychological

murder                                                           insults

rape                                                               menacing tones

imprisonment                                                 interrupting

torture                                                           sulking

beating                                                          ignoring

shoving                                                         blatant lying

banging doors



II - Subtle, Physical                                       IV - Subtle, Psychological 

touching                                                       false logic

looming                                                        sarcastic humor

space invasion                                              discounting

leading by the arm                                         "attitude"

making someone stand or sit                         lies of omission




A power play is a transaction in which one person tries to force another person to do something against his or her will.

xx is this defnied earlier?

I. Crude physical power plays are obvious to the naked eye and include hitting, shoving, throwing things, banging doors, or worse, kidnapping, torture, rape and murder.

II. Subtle physical power plays are not as easily visible, although if you are a victim of them you may become aware that you are being power-played after a while. Still, you may have no idea how power plays work or how to stop them. Subtle physical power plays include such things as towering over people or standing close to them so that you invade their personal space, leading them by the elbow or hand or walking ahead of them, making people stand or sit or blocking their path.

These power plays are often used by men on women, who accept them as a matter of normal male behavior.

xx I am getting a little tired of the male-female stuff. doesn't seem to belong in this book, not this much anyhow.

Psychological power plays work because people are trained to obey from early childhood. Without using physical force I can intimidate you with threats or with the tone of my voice. I can push you to action by making you feel guilty. I can seduce you with a smile or a promise, or persuade you that what I want is the right thing to do. I can trick you, con you, or sell you a preposterous lie. If I can overcome your resistance without using physical force, I have used a psychological power play.

Psychological power plays are all around us in daily life. Some are crude, some are subtle.

III. Crude psychological power plays include menacing tones and looks, insults, bald-faced lies, and blatant sulking. Also: interrupting, ignoring, making faces, rolling your eyes, tapping your fingers, and humming while others talk.

IV. Subtle psychological power plays include clever lies, lies of omission, subtle sulking, sarcastic humor, gossip, false logic, ignoring what people say, and at a mass level, advertising and propaganda. In every case a power play is a transaction designed to cause or prevent an action in another person.

Examples of physical power abuse are more shocking than those of psychological abuse, and they are less widespread. Even in the most violent environments, such as prisons or battlefields, people do not suffer primarily from direct physical oppression. Instead, their minds are controlled by the threat of violence. In our society this is especially true in homes where women and children are physically abused and battered.


There are two widely different ways of becoming powerful in this world: power plays and power literacy. The first requires being a person with no feeling for others and therefore no limits to his grasping needs. Chronic power players feels little empathy for another person; such people need to be cold to their victims' pain and will do whatever is necessary to keep control.

xx typo players feels

I have been speaking and teaching about an important source of personal power in this book, the power of emotional literacy. To become an emotional warrior, however, you need "power literacy" in addition to emotional literacy. In other words, you need to understand how power operates, how it is accumulated, how to take power, how to share it, and, at times, how to give it up.

The problem is that in a domination-based system such as ours, power is often inaccurately defined as "the capacity to control other people." Unfortunately, most thinking about power runs along these lines. Power theorists ignore other important forms of power, such as the power of communication, knowledge, or love.

To be passionate, centered, or spiritually aware is to be powerful. Take for example, Nelson Mandela, who completely changed the political direction of South Africa from his prison cell. And what historical figure was more powerful than Jesus of Nazareth? He was a poor carpenter who changed the world with his message of love available to all.

xx I would prefer to have Jesus left out, besides the Christian church is one of the most power hungry institutions of the modern world.

Knowledge is another example of power that rivals control. That is why authoritarian governments have always done what they could to prevent people from being educated or from gathering freely to learn from each other.

One reason the totalitarian governments of Eastern Europe collapsed was that improved communications across their borders destroyed their ability to control the flow of information and neutralized their propaganda; an example of how control is ultimately an impotent approach to power.

Many people renounce power because they see it used only for dominance or control. They think that to be powerful, you can't love people and be truly concerned about their fate. Because of this, rejecting power is seen as a good and necessary thing. But equating powerlessness with virtue is a form of power illiteracy. In fact, personal power, no different from power in the physical sense is simply the capacity to bring about change; to make things happen. People should strive to be as powerful as they can be, without taking power away from others.

xx "should"
















Personal power goes far beyond being able to manipulate or control people. You have power when you can bring about what you seek and prevent what you don't want. On the other hand you are powerless when you can't bring about what you want; or can't stop things you wish to avoid. The enormously powerful and wealthy president of a global corporation who manipulates politicians and workers may be powerless to get the love of his wife and children. All his control power is useless to get him a happy personal life; he can't get a sweet caress or loving glance from the ones he loves.

Most of us don't have the kinds of problems associated with wealth and control. Ordinary people are powerless when they can't control what they eat, drink or put in their bodies, when they can't sleep or stay awake, when they can't think clearly or control their emotions. We are especially powerless, and feel this keenly, when we can't curb other people's controlling and oppressive behavior. If you are able to cope with these problems, your life will likely develop satisfactorily. If you can't muster the energy and skills to overcome them your life will be joyless and filled with turmoil and depression, psychosis, and addiction.

The Inner Enemy. One important reason why we become powerless is that we have an internal foe that constantly weakens us from within.

When people are systematically abused, most of them will, in time, abuse other people and themselves. In this way, they become their own and each other's abusers, prison guards, and torturers. Examples abound in which oppressed people turned on each other and treated each other as viciously as their oppressors did. An example of this happened in Nazi concentration camps where Jewish inmate "capos," appointed by the wardens to guard their fellow Jews, adopted their captors' cruel ways.

This process also works when people are subjected to subtle psychological abuse. Such abuse is hidden and unacknowledged and tends to be forgotten. But it is taken in and eventually becomes the internal Critical Parent and so remains inside people's minds, keeping them in line and punishing them for every thought or act that breaks its oppressive rules. When children, introverts, women, people of color, workers, lesbians, gay men, physically handicapped people, and old, poor, or "ugly" folk are mistreated, they can feel so powerless that they come to accept the mistreatment and believe that it is deserved.

Eventually, they abuse themselves, physically and psychologically, as they follow the dictates of the Critical Parent in scores of self-destructive, self-loathing ways. In this way they have absorbed society's patriarchal scheme, which says it is all right for some people to dominate and for others to be beaten down. In this scheme those who are beaten down are somehow "wrong;" It labels the poor as "lazy," or women as "irrational," or minorities as intellectually and morally inferior.

In this book I have explained how the Critical Parent operates. Self-persecution is the work of the Critical Parent, called variously the "harsh superego," the "Pig Parent," "the Destructive Critic," or the "Enemy." Whatever it is called, it is a voice or an image in the mind saying that the person is bad, stupid, ugly, crazy or doomed-in short, not okay. What's more, that voice is passed down the generations from parents to children reverberating dreadfully through the minds of whole populations.

In emotional literacy training we have vowed to remove the Critical Parent from our lives, a hard but worthwhile task. But fighting our own Critical Parent is not enough. In fact it is a hopeless task unless we also resist the controlling patriarchal power all around us.

No one needs to fight this battle alone. People everywhere are struggling to run their own lives and are eager to join in the struggle for self-determination. To succeed we need to develop a new form of personal non-abusive power known as charisma.


I am now going to show you just what I mean by describing seven sources of non-abusive power. Students of Eastern religions will recognize the origin of these ideas in the ancient theory of the chakras of Kundalini yoga: Earth, Sex, Power, Heart, Throat, Third Eye, and Cosmos.

I call these seven power sources Balance, Passion, Control, Love, Communication, Information, and Transcendence.

No one of these powers should be valued over another. Instead, they should be used together, for each has its own unique capacity to bring about change. When you use them in combination, you will find that this rainbow of options is much more powerful than the blunt, often brutal forms of control power that dominate so many of us.

BALANCE; Steady on your feet. Balance or grounding, as it is also called, is the capacity to be rooted and comfortable while standing, climbing, walking, or running.

When you have a well-developed capacity for balance, you "know where you stand." Because you know where you stand, you will not be easily pushed out of your physical or personal position. Your body will be firmly planted, and your mind will be steady.

As with all the power sources, you should try to reach a "happy medium" in regard to balance. If you are deficient in balance, you will be too obedient, easily frightened, and timid. But if you overdevelop balance, you will be stubborn, stony, dense, unmovable, and dull.

Balance is a particularly valuable power source for women. Patriarchy discourages women from attaining a strong sense of physical balance. Women's fashions designed to please men--tight clothes, miniskirts, high heels--interfere with physical stability. So do the requirements of modesty--limited and careful motion--for women of "breeding."

Men, on the other hand, are free to be as physically comfortable as they desire, wear roomy clothing and shoes, and have minimal requirements for grooming and modesty.

In the United States, as women move slowly toward equal status with men, they are casting aside many of the dictates of dress and grooming that have been required for them. As a result, they are feeling more powerful--more rooted, grounded, and balanced.

PASSION: The heat that keeps you going. The power of passion can invigorate you like nothing else can. Passion can create or destroy. Passion brings opposites together, forces confrontation and change.

In the absence of sexual passion, there would be no Romeo and Juliet, few marriages, no unrequited love. But passion is not only sexual. It also fuels missionary zeal, quixotic quests, and revolution.

If your passion is underdeveloped, you will be tepid, boring, and gutless. If your passion boils over, you will explode with unbridled energy.

CONTROL: Keeping a firm grip. Control has been badly used but it is an essential form of power. Control allows you to manipulate your environment and the objects, machines, animals, and people in it.

Such control, which is both physical and psychological, also gives you power over yourself. Control is especially important when, in the form of self-discipline, it lets you regulate your other powers, such as passion, information, communication, and, very importantly, your emotions. This control is vital when events around you run amok and threaten your survival. Emotional Literacy is partially a matter of controlling emotions; expressing them or holding them back for a powerful personal approach.

If you lack in control power, you can be victimized by your inner turmoil and become addicted, depressed, sleepless, and slothful. Or you may be victimized by the outer world, becoming unemployed, homeless, battered, persecuted, mentally ill, or sickened by pollution. You will be seen as lacking discipline, unable to control what you feel, say, and do, and what you put in your mouth, up your nose, or into your veins. On the opposite end of the spectrum when obsessed by control you become preoccupied with absolute control of every situation and soul.

LOVE: The power that binds. Everyone wants to love and to be loved, knowing how good it feels when it happens. But few people look beyond love's obvious pleasures to see its power. Fewer yet fully develop that power.

Love is more than just Valentine's Day cards, the thrill that you get when you see or touch your beloved, or the warm hug of a mother’s child. Love is both an emotion and attitude; it has the power to bind people together, enabling them to work tirelessly side by side on the hardest tasks, instilling hope that can propel them out of the most hellish situations; floods, famines, wars, plane wrecks.

If your power of love is underdeveloped, you will be cold, lacking in warmth or empathy for other people, unable to nurture or to be nurtured, unable even to love yourself. If this power is overdeveloped, you will be a habitual Rescuer, driven to excessive sacrifices for others while neglecting yourself.

Love is at the center of this array of powers; a loving attitude guides the Emotional Warrior. This attitude applies to three elementary realms: Love of self, love of others, and love of truth. These three qualities provide the vision necessary for a heart-centered approach to living:

1. Bedrock individuality; love of self. When we love ourselves we will stand our ground in defense of our personal uniqueness. Individuality keeps us firmly focused on what we want and makes us capable of deciding what will contribute or detract from our personal path. Only a passionate love of self will give one the strength to persevere in our decisions when everyone loses faith in who we are or what we are doing.

2. Steadfast loyalty; love of others. By being loyal we are aware of our involvement in the lives of other human beings and as passionate about others as we are about ourselves. Love of self without love of others is selfish. Love of others without love of self turns us into Rescuers ready to give everything away. Love of self and others can only be sustained by keeping in touch with our own true feelings on one hand and the feelings of others on the other.

3. Conscious truthfulness; love of truth. Love of self and others is intimately dependent on the love of truth. Truthfulness is especially important in the information age, where we can be "well informed," and at the same time under the influence of false and deceitful information. Love of truth is the attribute that keeps a person actively involved in pursuing valid information, that is information that reflects the realities of the world. "Radical truth telling," explored in the "Notes for Philosophers" at the end of this book is the ultimate refinement of honest communication.

COMMUNICATION: Your link to others. The power of communication depends on the capacity to reproduce one’s thoughts and feelings in others. Two operations are involved: sending and receiving, speaking and listening. You need two-way communication to transmit knowledge, to solve problems with others, to build satisfying relationships--in short, to achieve Emotional Literacy.

If you are lacking in communication power, you will be unable to learn much or to enjoy people. If you stress communication too much, you could become a compulsive, careless talker, paying too little attention to what you are saying or its effect on others.

All the sources of power work with each other. A very powerful combination of powers, used by great teachers is made of communication, information, and love. Their communication is inspired by the love of truth and the love of people. They do not browbeat or use control to persuade. Instead they explain, and try to understand if they are not understood; their students are free to compare what they are learning with what they already know, thus forming their own well grounded opinions.

INFORMATION: Your antidote to uncertainty. The power of information is that it reduces your uncertainty. When you have information, you can anticipate events and you can make things happen or prevent them from happening.

If you are lacking in the power of information, you suffer from ignorance. If this power is overdeveloped, you tend to rely excessively on science and technology, becoming hyperintellectual and lacking heart.

Information comes in four forms: science, intuition, history and vision. Science gathers facts methodically, by taking a careful look at things and noting how they work. Science is like a camera taking focused and sharp pictures of reality. It is a powerful source of certainty.

Intuition grasps the flow of things. It produces "educated guesses" about the way things are. Intuition is fuzzy not exact like science, but it is a powerful guide toward what is probably true. Because of this, intuition is often vital in the early stages of important scientific discoveries.

Historical knowledge comes from knowledge of past events, either through personal experience or through the study of history. Historical perspective can be a powerful tool to help you forecast events.

Vision is the ability to see what lies ahead directly, through dreams and visions. We all have visions of the future but it takes great self-confidence to be a visionary. Vision when recognized is a highly valued for of information.

Ordinarily, our society considers science the only valid source of knowledge; history is for old people, intuition for women, and vision for lunatics. Still, each of these forms of information has validity and can add to your charisma.

Information has been badly misused over the ages. It has been used in the service of control, to wage war, to seize land, and to impose political and religious views. Today, in the Information Age, the misuse of information comes in the form of disinformation, false advertising, negative political ads and other forms of modem propaganda. They are used to manipulate millions of people through television and other mass media and to persuade people to live certain life styles and buy the products that go with them.

Information in the service of love would be starkly different. It would be used to build people's power; their health through medical and psychological knowledge, their wisdom through education, their relationships through emotional literacy.

TRANSCENDENCE: Rising above it all. When viewed as a source of power, Transcendence is the power of equanimity, of letting events take their course without getting upset or letting your ego get involved. It lets you find calm and see clearly, in the midst, even, of earthshaking events. You find transcendence by realizing how insignificant you are in the universe-how brief life is before you return to cosmic dust, how ephemeral your successes and failures, how relatively unimportant your pains and joys. Whatever your situation may be, you can deal with it when you see it as a speck in the immensity of time and space. With this understanding, there is no fear of the future or even death because one’s existence cannot be disrupted by ordinary events. The power of transcendence gives one hope and faith that there is a meaning to life even if one's limited intelligence can't grasp it. With it we can "rise above" a particular situation and trust and feel our power in spite of material conditions.

If your capacity for transcendence is underdeveloped, you will see yourself at the very center of things and cling desperately to your beliefs and desires, aversions and cravings, successes and failures, no matter the cost. You will fail to see the effect that you have on other human beings and the environment, because all that matters to you, is you. On the other hand if transcendence becomes an overused method of coping, you will become detached from earthly matters, so that you will "float away" oblivious of events around you, unwilling and unable to touch the ground.

My knowledge about these sources of power varies; I understand some (control, communication) better than others (transcendence, vision). I invite you, dear reader, to add what you know about these subjects by communicating with me by mail or through the web page given at the end of this book.


At its worst, Western culture today is an engine of control driving all the other sources of power.

Transcendence has been distorted into patriarchal religions worshiping wrathful gods and headed by religious leaders who have sold out for power and money.

Information has been narrowly limited to the use of science to serve war technology, and to manufacture and sell goods.

Communication has become a one-way process to manipulate people.

Love has been degraded to a parody of itself, laden with jealousy and obsession, heralded in popular songs and films but ignored in real life.

Passion reduced to lust and violence and Balance, the exclusive realm of athletic super- heroes.

Our lives don't have to be limited in this way. As Emotional Warriors, we can use our love-centered powers to make change happen. We can together struggle to shift the world away from control and in the direction of love.

You can enlist in this effort by developing your individual powers and charisma in its many forms. You need:

• Balance to stand your ground.

• Passion to energize you.

• Control to keep a steady course.

• Communication to effectively interact with others.

• Information to make accurate predictions.

• Transcendence to keep perspective.

• Love to harmonize and give all these capacities a powerful forward thrust.

Emotional literacy training speaks directly to the heart, calling for people everywhere to practice three interconnected virtues: love of self, love of others, and love of truth. This is the path of the Emotional Warrior.


The Emotional Warrior

You don't have to go along with a world where human power is expressed through power plays or violence. You can link up with others to struggle for a world in which power is expressed through love; of yourself, others and truth. You can do this by becoming emotionally literate and teaching emotional literacy techniques to others. To be passionate, balanced, and spiritually aware is to be powerful. There are seven benign sources of power you can draw on: Balance, Passion, Control, Love, Communication, Information, and Transcendence.

Leading with your heart, informed by emotional literacy you can develop your own personal charisma while looking out for others, you will become an Emotional Warrior


Love is a word often used in this book, a word generally overused, easily abused and yet ... love, I think most would agree, makes the world go 'round. What love is, exactly, is not clear, but certainly it goes beyond the well known passion between lovers or the adoration of our offspring. It is the deep instinct that makes us enjoy being with each other, taking care of one another and doing things together. When we allow it to express itself it helps us survive and prosper.

Of the many things I have said in this book, I want to reemphasize one: Love is at the very center of emotional literacy. Any emotional intelligence that we may accumulate apart from the loving emotion is like a paint-by-the-numbers canvas that may look good to the casual gaze but is not the real thing. If you begin by giving and taking strokes you will open up your heart and access the only lasting basis for an emotionally literate life.

Very likely you will wonder how the practice of a few transactional exercises could possibly produce such a powerful source of energy and power. Isn't that a bit of paint-by-the-numbers alchemy to turn psychological lead into gold? I am not promising to create a loving heart. What I am assuring you is that these transactions practiced honestly with another willing and sympathetic person will unleash that power. Giving and receiving strokes will force open the gates that imprison our hearts. The rest is up to that irresistible power of nature: Love. It may not seem so to some, but Love is ready to come forth and do battle with our dark side, if we will let it and if we can find ways to make it safe and nurture it as it grows.

Eventually, whether or not you develop your Emotional Literacy will depend on a number of factors: Your desire, whether you can find people to practice with, the opportunities afforded you in this cruel world and how successful you are in avoiding its dark side. In these last words I want to make sure, dear reader, that you understand that this book's message has everything to do with Love--of yourself, of others, and of truth.

Claude Steiner, Berkeley, CA June 2000



With these notes I am following the example set by Eric Berne. In his writings, he provided his readers with the historical and philosophical background for his views. These notes are the result of interviews with Jude Hall about the philosophical controversies surrounding the issues raised in this book.

Love as a Fundamental Good

The idea of love as a basic good, to be universally pursued with all other human beings, is a markedly Christian notion. It was first espoused in the West by Jesus Christ and in China by Mo Di, a contemporary of Confucius' disciple Mencius. The most influential critic of Christianity's concept of love is Friedrich Nietzsche. He held that the universal love espoused by Christians is disingenuous, hypocritical, neurotic, and leads to depressive nihilism (what he called passive nihilism) and to the degeneracy of society' and the arts. He maintained that the universal love and altruism to which Christians aspire necessitates an egalitarian leveling which prevents society from producing excellence by assigning privilege evenly among an people, when it should go to the especially gifted. These special individuals should be allowed to secure the power they need to achieve their vision.

Nietzsche's idols were Napoleon, Julius Caesar, Augustus Caesar, and early Roman emperors, strong men after the fashion of his human ideal, the superman. While this may sound bizarre to the average reader, Nietzsche (who died in 1900) is considered one of the most influential figures in twentieth century thought, and his critique of the hidden psychological roots of altruism is accepted by thinkers as diverse as Max Horkheimer, Theodore Adorno, and Michael Foucalt. Some aspects of Nietzschian thought have even influenced as egalitarian a thinker as Herbert Marcuse. Thus, as deviant as Nietzsche's ideas may seem to the uninitiated, they cannot be dismissed. Students of contemporary politics may recognize the traces of the Nietzschian point of view in the theories of conservative politicians today. The belief that social services and government subsidies to help the disadvantaged are undesirable is the permissible manifestation of a far more extreme elitist conviction which permeates the corridors of conservatism throughout the world.

Paradoxically, though the views of this book originate in the teachings about brotherly love of Jesus of Nazareth, they are likely to be classified as secular humanism, anathema to fundamentalist Christians and despised by conservatives.

Lying and Honesty.

The idea that lying is a universal evil was recorded in one of the ten commandments brought down from Mt. Sinai by Moses; "Thou shall not bear false witness." Though it is a fundamental Judeo-Christian dictum, there is very little attention paid to just what, precisely, obeying the rule would imply. When speaking of truth in this book I am applying the well-known criteria followed in the courts, namely that in order not to lie one needs to tell "the whole truth (no lies of omission) and nothing but the truth (no lies of commission.)" According to this definition, a lie is a conscious act, so that a person cannot lie without being aware of it. The truth is simply the truth as the speaker knows it. In this sense, lying and truth-telling is related to subjective truth and only vaguely related to the abstract and unattainable concept of "the truth." (See notes on The Truth). St. Augustine was the foremost proponent of absolute truthfulness. He believed that "God forbids all lies."' The notion that one should never lie was taken to its political extreme by Immanuel Kant, who argued that it would be a moral crime to lie to a murderer about the whereabouts of a potential victim. Benjamin Constant' countered that "no one has the right to a truth that injures others."

In this book, while arguing that being truthful is a requirement of emotional literacy, I recognize that the imperative of truth-telling is secondary to the imperative of safety. Thus any person aspiring to be radically truthful has to keep in mind that truth-telling can, on occasion, be harmful and needs to be evaluated according to circumstances. This may seem to open the door for all manner of lies to preserve people's safety. But there are, in everyday life, very few situations that warrant lying on the basis of safety and certainly no justification whatsoever for the constant dishonesty accepted as normal. Most of the lies people tell have nothing to do with protecting others or oneself from harm, and every-thing to do with manipulating people to one's advantage, often under the guise of attempting to shield each other from "needless" pain.

According to Dr. Bella de Paulo "everyday lies are part of the fabric of social life," and in a study of people lying she found that people lie in one fifth of their social interactions and that seventy percent of those who lie would tell the lies again. Sixty percent of the lies were outright deceptions, a tenth of the lies were exaggerations and the rest were subtle lies, often lies of omission.

In her book, Lying, Sissela Bok, the acknowledged expert on the issue, classifies all manner of lies and secrets and acknowledges the harm that chronic lying causes us. Yet she does not go as far as to recommend that people should not lie at all, mostly, it seems, because of her apprehension that radical honesty can lend itself to sadistic misuse.

In his book Radical Honesty, Brad Blanton,' after asserting that "we all lie like hell. It wears us out. It is the major source of all human stress. Lying kills people," also falls short of recommending that we not lie at all. He fails to endorse a radical policy of truth telling (in spite of the title of his book) because part of our chronic lying, as he sees it, are lies we tell ourselves, something not so easily defined and even less easily stopped. I avoid the self-lying conundrum by defining a lie as a conscious act. Given this definition, lying to ourselves is impossible.

The Truth

By writing about the truth and love of truth, I am letting myself in for a huge philosophical debate which has frozen greater and infinitely more meticulous minds than mine in their tracks. The idea that truth is something to be discovered with the mind rather than accepted from religion was first recorded in the 4th century BC. It was a result of a new interest in the workings of the physical universe.

Socrates and Plato extended their exploration into the realms of ethics, aesthetics, politics and psychology. (Aristotle shifted the emphasis back to empirical inquiry, in defiance of his teacher Plato, who favored speculation and logic with little empirical grounding.) It was the Greek sophists, Plato's contemporaries and intellectual antagonists, who first began to argue that emotion and prejudice are as important as reason in the pursuit of truth. Plato argued for absolute truth, discoverable through a dialogic process which he called dialectic; the sophists believed that opinion, or "doxa," is truth and that truth is wholly relative. Hence Protagoras' famous dictum "Man is the measure of all things." The dominance of religious truth returned with the Middle Ages, but in the Enlightenment the debate resumed. The Rationalists echoed Plato in arguing that reason is the best guide to truth; the Empiricists, like Aristotle, preferred to rely on the physical facts; the Romantics inadvertently came to parallel the sophists by asserting the importance of emotion and the irrational. (It should be noted that while the sophists were often disingenuous hustlers, the Romantics were earnest seekers rebelling against the excesses of rationalism and industrialization.)

Though Nietzsche was the inheritor of the Romantic tradition from his early idol, Schopenhauer, he was one of the least dewy-eyed thinkers who ever lived. He argued that language (and even thought) are inherently deceptive and that no society can survive without mutually agreed upon falsehoods, ". . . to be truthful means to employ the usual metaphors. Thus, to express it morally, this is the duty to lie according to a fixed convention, to lie with the herd and in a manner binding upon everyone."' Today, those familiar with the work of Nietzsche's inheritors, the structuralist and posstructuralist philosophers, such as Derrida and Foucalt, may sneer at the notion that the concept of truth has any meaning or that it can be discovered. To my mind, there is nothing that can be called "the truth." The truth changes with time. There are several sometimes seemingly contradictory truths and there is no way to contain the hugely complex facts of nature in any one set of words. But I believe that some statements are truer than others. This book does not propose to have a monopoly on universal moral truths. Instead, it offers a paradigm which, within our culture, has the potential to make our lives happier and richer. What I can say with certainty is that to reap the benefits of practicing emotional literacy, one must take "love of truth" seriously and seriously strive to be truthful. Love of truth implies, as George Sand is believed to have said: "We must accept truth even if it changes our point of view." Being truthful is speaking truth as we understand it. We need to be particularly vigilant within the context of loving, cooperative relationships, where lies often seem necessary to prevent harm, but so often create much more harm than they were intended to avert.

Violence and the Dark Side

Most people have, deep in their hearts, a real need and desire to bond, to be open, loving, and respectful of other's feelings. One of the first tenets of Transactional Analysis is that everyone is born Okay. This idea probably filtered down to Eric Berne from the 19th century philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau, who maintained that people are born good and it is social ills that make them bad. Philosopher Herbert Marcuse and, initially, Sigmund Freud have called this original goodness the "inborn social instinct" Eros, and the energy that drives it "libido." Freud originally believed that our ability to live harmoniously and lovingly with each other comes from this "Eros principle," while violence and exploitation come from the "ego principle," the side of human nature that is concerned with self-preservation and therefore strives to become as powerful (and therefore safe) as possible and is willing to harm others to achieve its ends.

There are others, like Francis Fukuyama, who have suggested that this Rousseauian conviction that people are intrinsically good while all negativity comes from bad social conditions is a naive, liberal notion. Freud himself in the later part of his life, after witnessing the horrors of WWII, decided that there was, in addition to libido, the life principle, another innate human tendency, an inborn antisocial instinct which he called Thanatos, the Death instinct.

In addition to the positive, cooperative side of people there is a dark side of human nature that we have to reckon with. Beyond the simple lessons of this book we will be confronted with hard situations and, as emotional warriors, we should not be taken by surprise if our efforts are met with hard if not nasty resistance.

The pursuit of emotional literacy presupposes that people are born with an innate tendency toward goodness, cooperation, and love; that is, a tendency to exercise ethical power. Without that tendency we would be fighting a constant, exhausting, uphill battle. But we all have forces within that are profoundly unethical, which are not just implanted by a bad culture but are probably innate. These forces involve aggression, greed and unethical manifestations of sexuality. They stem from primitive, irrepressible and even vital and valuable survival instincts.

The moral philosophers of the Enlightenment generally defined evil as error. In the terms of this book, error is equivalent to emotional illiteracy, or a lack of a sense of enlightened self-interest that would make it evident to us that our evil deeds will eventually hurt us by leaving us isolated from the tribe. But the root of evil may not be just error but the result of deep, instinctive, unchecked survival impulses.

To be an effective emotional warrior you must be able to admit your own aggression, selfishness and greed, your own inborn urge to survive at all costs. You must also be aware of and accept these impulses in others. An Emotional Warrior knows that we all have selfish and aggressive instincts, and managing those instincts in an ethical way is one of the primary aims of emotional wisdom.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky acknowledged this irreducible selfishness in human nature when he wrote:

"To love another as oneself according to Christ's commandment is impossible. Only Christ was able to do this, but Christ is a perpetual and eternal ideal towards which man strives ..."

There is a dark side, not only to human nature, but also to the human condition. All human beings live every day with the possibility of loss, tragedy, and even disaster.

In the modern world we have protected ourselves with technology from many types of tragedy. However, we may have paved the way for a greater collective tragedy--a worldwide catastrophe, for that same technology, if left unchecked, may destroy the biosphere.

The awareness of tragedy is relevant to the pursuit of Emotional Literacy, especially for the emotional warrior. Some survivors of tragedy feel that they no longer have the resources to worry about the rights and needs of others. They may fall into a nihilistic "After all I've been through, I deserve to be happy, by any means necessary" or "I've suffered, why shouldn't others suffer too?" attitude. An emotional warrior must understand this temptation to succumb to the dark side of our nature in response to tragedy, and must be able to resist this temptation. She must understand that she may not be rewarded materially for her efforts, she may even suffer tragedy in spite of her valor; sometimes, tragically, virtue is not only its own reward, but its only reward. A warrior must be prepared for that possibility.

An Emotional Warrior is aware of the dark side, both the dark side of human nature (innate greed and aggression) and the dark side of the human condition (tragedy) and strives to practice honorable ethical power even when one or both of these twin facets of the Dark Side threaten to wreak havoc.

Violence and Abuse

The connection between childhood abuse and violent adult behavior, mediated by emotional numbing, is a strongly established one.

The relationship is not perfect. For instance, there are certain neurological determinants of violent behavior which are strongly associated with trauma to the brain. That is to say, youngsters who experience head injuries, whether accidental or due to abuse, exhibit a certain lack of inhibitory capacity which can result in and is correlated with uncontrolled violent behavior. On the other hand, childhood abuse is also highly correlated with violent adult behavior. In fact, abuse is more strongly correlated with adult violence than brain injury. This underscores the urgent need to stop domestic violence.

The most dangerous mixture of violence determinants is the combination of both abuse and neurological damage.

Using time spent in jail as a rough measure of violent behavior, the results in 95 male juveniles are startling:

No neurological determinants, no abuse                           No jail time

Neurological determinants, no abuse                                360 days jail time

No neurological determinants and abuse                          562 days jail time

Neurological determinants and abuse                               1,214 days jail time

Children with brain injuries almost always incur them from neglect or abuse. Child abuse, especially child abuse that involves blows to the head, is a serious determinant of violent adult behavior. And the trauma of neglect and abuse causes the kind of emotional numbing that makes one capable of abusing or neglecting a child. Intervention and emotional literacy training are desperately needed. By teaching empathy, emotional literacy training stops the vicious cycle of abuse and neglect.

The Critical Parent

Critical thinkers will question the concept of the Critical Parent. Some argue that it is too much like a homunculus, a little person inside of our heads. The Critical Parent is just one way to visualize and make accessible a method for decathecting--taking away psychic energy from--a set of recurrent, debilitating prejudiced and deprecatory thoughts. These self-abusive thoughts are not based on the facts of current reality. These thoughts are leftovers from our childhood which distract, demotivate, and demoralize us. The fact that some people hear these as derogatory, insulting, or doom ridden "voices in the head" (what we know as the Critical Parent) makes the process of decathecting and disconnecting from them easier. It is easier because you can speak to, disagree with and evict a voice in your head, whereas it is more difficult to respond to and resist an image or amorphous feeling of inadequacy.

This discussion leads to questions of the validity of the concept of ego states. Are there really three and only three completely distinct states of the ego which manifest themselves in sequence and which operate in three distinctly different ways? Again, the value of these concepts is that they help us to better understand human social behavior. They are a useful way of representing human beings in their social transactions. When transactional analysts draw two people with their three ego states on the chalkboard, we know that these are not true representations of these people any more than a street map is a true representation of a city. They are, however, highly useful approximations of human behavior and structure, as useful as a street map for getting around in the human situation.


Nietzsche, Friedrich, The Genealogy of Morals: An Attack, written in 1887, Anchor Books, Doubleday, 1956.

St. Augustine, "Lying," in Treatise on Various Subjects, vol. 14, ed. R. J. Deferrari, Fathers of the Church (Catholic University of America Press, 1952). 1

Kant, Immanuel. Critique of Practical Reason and Other Writings in Moral Philosophy (University of Chicago Press, 1949).

Constant, Benjamin, in Lying by Sissela Bok (Vintage, 1978).

De Paulo, Bella M., et al. "Lying in Everyday Life." Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. May 1996, v. 70, no. 5.

Bok, Sissela. Lying (Vintage, 1978).

Blanton, Brad. Radical Honesty (Dell, 1996).

The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc. and the Free Press, 1967, p. 505. Nietzsche, Friedrich, "On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense," essay written 1873.

Berne, Eric. What Do You Say After You Say Hello? (Grove Press, 1976).

Fukuyama, Francis. The End of History and the Last Man (The Free Press, 1992).

Dostoyevsky, Fyodor, from his personal diary, April 16, 1864, quoted in Fyodor

Dostoyevsky, A Writer's Life, Geir Kjetsaa, 1987.

Gladwell, Malcolm. "Damaged." (New Yorker Magazine, Feb. 24, 1997).