One of the important concepts in the arena of emotion regulation is that of the lesser well known emotional literacy. Emotional literacy is often confused for emotional intelligence and whilst the two concepts appear to be quite similar there are important differences in their focus.
Emotional literacy really is the process underlying the development of emotional intelligence and emotion regulation.
Emotional literacy is the development of a discreet set of abilities around an individual's or a groups ability to read, interpret, understand their own and particularly others emotions. There is a conscious element here where the individual develops the ability to think accurately about their emotions and in particular can decode and relate to the emotional cues given off by other people. The operative word here is relate. These abilities are the basic requirements for empathy and are needed to learn successful emotion regulation techniques.
Emotional intelligence on the other hand is seen as a general terms which encompasses the whole set of human emotional tools and consciousness including the ability to regulate the emotions. Emotional intelligence is often used as a general overarching concept which can mean a whole range of specific emotional capabilities such as empathy or emotion regulation or the ability to recognise different emotional states depending on the context.
Emotionally literate people pick up on others emotional states and can identify and define their own emotions readily.
Often when helping people learn the skills of emotion regulation and in order to develop emotional resilience one has to take time to first develop the individuals emotional literacy, especially with people from cultures and familiy systems where there is no background of emotional expression or emotional literacy. People from such backgrounds often find it hard to articulate accuratly what is happening to them emotionally and there is evidence to show that such people also find it more dificult to also identify emotions in others and also regulate their own emotions. A study published earlier this year (2013) showed that developing emotional literacy reduced bullying in primary schools and a further study from 2009 showed that pupils with lower levels of emotional literacy were also likely to be victims of bulling.
So both the bully and bullied are more likely to come from the populations with lower levels of emotional literacy.
This is the case both in school and in the workplace. There is a growing amount of evidence to show that emotional literacy / emotional resilience programmes can reduce bullying in schools and the workplace.
Einarsen, S. et al (eds) (2010) Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace: Developments in Theory, Research, and Practice, Second Edition. CRC Press, 30 Sep 2010
Harris, A (2009) An Investigation of the Relationship between Emotional Literacy and Bullying. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.
Knowlera, C & Fredericksonb, N (2013) Effects of an emotional literacy intervention for students identified with bullying behaviour. Educational Psychology: An International Journal of Experimental Educational Psychology. May 2013.