What Is the Wheel of Emotion? (With Benefits and Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published July 22, 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Emotions are an intricate part of workplace dynamics. Describing how you feel might be a complex and challenging exercise, but it's important to exhibit emotional intelligence. Learning about the wheel of emotion can help you understand your responses and manage them better. In this article, we define the wheel of emotion, discuss the eight core emotions, explore the benefits of the wheel in the workplace, consider why emotional intelligence is important, and provide steps to improve it.

What is the wheel of emotion?

The wheel of emotion, designed by psychologist Robert Plutchik, provides a graphic illustration of the major emotions, depicting the differing degrees and complexity of various sentiments. As a tool, it may assist individuals in recognizing emotions and learning to manage them in various contexts, including gaining greater self-awareness. The wheel focuses on eight fundamental emotions that individuals may strengthen, diminish, and mix to form new emotional states. The objective is to look at the wheel and discover your core emotion, then move outside and around that location to find additional layers and variations for your emotions.

What are the 8 core emotions?

Plutchik describes the eight fundamental emotions as anger, anticipation, disgust, fear, joy, sadness, trust, and surprise. Each of the emotions has three distinct levels that are depicted opposite each other on the wheel:

  • Anger: opposite of fear, degrees are annoyance and rage

  • Anticipation: opposite of surprise, degrees are interest and vigilance

  • Disgust: opposite of trust, degrees are boredom and loathing

  • Fear: opposite of anger, degrees are apprehension and terror

  • Joy: opposite of sadness, degrees are serenity and ecstasy

  • Sadness: opposite of joy, degrees are pensiveness and grief

  • Surprise: opposite of anticipation, degrees are distraction and amazement

  • Trust: opposite of disgust, degrees are acceptance and admiration

Related: 17 Best Jobs for Empaths (With Salaries and Duties)

Workplace benefits of the emotion wheel

Here are some benefits of this tool in the workplace:

Encourages the evaluation of responses

By picturing the wheel in your mind, you're likely to slow down your responses and evaluate how you react to challenging circumstances with more consideration. Although you cannot control the emotions or behaviours of others, you can manage your reactions to the situation. The emotion wheel can assist you in doing so.

Demanding circumstances at work can feel more challenging than personal issues, as your livelihood and salary may depend on their result. Referring to the emotion wheel at these times may help you manage such situations more effectively. The wheel may also be valuable beyond the workplace, and applying it in your personal life might encourage useful responses that you can transfer to work situations.

Helps to manage emotions

Workplace culture often encourages employees to repress emotions in challenging situations. Plutchik's wheel may assist you in expressing your feelings in the workplace in a calm and controlled way. You may focus on your emotions and use them to drive yourself toward greater networking possibilities, promotions, and opportunities for asserting your ideas instead of what others want you to do.

When you can recognize your emotions and respond appropriately, you may increase your chances of success in professional and personal relationships. Achieving a strong emotional quotient, or emotional intelligence, may help, whether you're a manager, work in a client-facing role, or operate in a team setting.

Related: 10 Ways to Handle Anxiety about a New Job (With Tips)

Enables a better understanding of others' emotions

When workplace differences arise, it's often challenging to consider an issue from a colleague's perspective. Using the emotion wheel, you can picture an image of the emotions in your mind and use it to help overcome the situation. You may also use it to understand your colleague's viewpoint better, resulting in a quicker resolution.

Facilitates an understanding of office politics

Organizational politics, where individuals compete for authority, can be common in the workplace. To manage this effectively, it's advisable to gain greater control by overlooking your emotions to better perceive and respond to what others are experiencing, based on their verbal and non-verbal cues. This may help you handle workplace politics more efficiently, a skill which may be beneficial in advancing your career.

Related: How to Navigate Office Politics (Finding Your Work Dynamic)

Improves the quality of the work environment

The emotion wheel might be a valuable tool if you aim to create a positive workplace. By better understanding how external variables influence emotions, you may learn how to exert a greater influence on your colleagues' emotions. This may be beneficial when employees work toward an imminent deadline and the team needs a stable atmosphere to concentrate. It can also help settle disputes between colleagues.

Related: 18 People Skills for a Productive Work Environment

Why is emotional intelligence important in the workplace?

Emotional intelligence is helpful at work for recognizing, reasoning with, comprehending, and regulating your own and others' emotions. Managing your emotions enables you to advise and assist others and may result in greater job satisfaction and career advancement. Emotional intelligence is important in the workplace because it can allow you to:

  • Understand non-verbal communication: If you comprehend non-verbal communication, you may prevent a situation from escalating. For instance, if a colleague exhibits non-verbal signals of sadness, such as withdrawing from the conversation, you may approach them privately to express concern.

  • Promote emotional self-awareness: Understanding your emotions allows you to modify your conduct before a potentially challenging situation with a customer or colleague. For instance, if you're tired at work, you may strive to alter your behaviour by refocusing your attention on positive emotions.

  • Improve efficiencies: When you demonstrate empathy and understand others' feelings, you can sometimes make decisions more easily and perform tasks more efficiently.

  • Enhance your career: There may be a link between leadership abilities and strong emotional intelligence. Demonstrating patience, active listening, positivity, and empathy may help you progress to a leadership position, achieve a title promotion, or receive a raise.

  • Support the development of interpersonal skills in others: Because emotions can be transmissible, exhibiting motivation, empathy, a sense of responsibility, and teamwork may motivate your colleagues to do the same.

How to improve emotional intelligence in the workplace

Emotional intelligence can be important for professional success. Enhancing emotional intelligence at work may motivate a team and provide a healthy work environment. Here are five ways to increase emotional intelligence at work:

1. Identify areas for improvement

Before attempting to increase your emotional intelligence, it's beneficial to understand where you can improve. Conducting a self-evaluation of emotional areas to improve can enable you to become a more empathetic communicator. You may be skilful at assisting individuals who verbally express their emotions but require improvement in understanding non-verbal communication. It's important to review your list of areas for improvement often to assess your progress.

2. Evaluate your past emotional intelligence

Continue your evaluation by studying your emotional intelligence history. Reviewing past e-mails and text messages allows you to reflect on how you handled certain circumstances. For instance, you may identify a situation in which you might have behaved with greater empathy. Reflecting on your communication strategies enables you to learn to handle similar situations more successfully.

3. Receive feedback

To comprehend your emotional responses better, requesting input from dependable individuals may be helpful. This may prove to be an enlightening exercise, especially if you encourage these individuals to be candid about your communication skills. Consider asking a family member or close friend about your interpersonal communication skills and use this information to learn how people may see you and how you can improve.

4. Ask for assistance

Consider requesting help from your supervisor or mentor to increase emotional intelligence in the workplace. Explain your intention to enhance your communication or leadership abilities and elicit their suggestions. Consider attending a training lecture or engaging in a workplace activity that may benefit the whole team.

Related: A Comprehensive Guide on How to Be a Positive Thinker

5. Practise emotional intelligence

Use what you've learned about your emotional intelligence daily. Understanding areas for improvement and requesting assistance and feedback when needed may provide a list of development opportunities. Some tasks, such as practising your body language and facial expressions in the mirror, may only involve yourself. Applying your emotional intelligence in actual situations may include talking with various individuals. Improving your emotional intelligence may help you advance in your profession and encourage others to do so.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions, or organizations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Explore more articles