Emotional Intelligence Requires Managing Relationships

I started thinking about emotional intelligence when I witnessed a nasty altercation that almost became physical in the waiting area of an airport this week.

We looked at acknowledging our own emotions and then managing them. That is a very hard step–especially when we are caught up in a deep emotion. It’s hard, but necessary to step back away from ourselves. There is a skill where you can mentally step out of your body and see yourself as others see you. That act can be very insightful.

Then we learn to look at others. Take notice of their emotional state. Listen to them. Ask questions or provide support to them.

We can see where this is going. First we see ourselves. Then we acknowledge others. Finally, we have the relationship among people.

I’m not sure that I’m the role model for relationship. I have been married (to the same woman) for more than 40 years. I guess that says something. I just returned home from a conference that I’ve attended for 16 years. Over that time, I’ve grown into relationships of another sort with many people I see every year. Those business relationships that merge over into somewhat personal are most gratifying. I’ve cheered their successes, empathized with challenges.

Sometimes relationships can be less healthy. Maybe there are ones where we just seem to feed some negative emotion of the other person. Maybe we just can’t help ourselves from annoying, provoking or enabling bad behaviour in certain other persons.

That’s where we need to go back to step one. Then step two. Then straighten out that relationship. Or–walk away from it. There are people with whom I’ll never get along. I just keep them out of my life as much as possible–like removing a tumor, I suppose.

Mostly, I’ve found that listening, empathy and a smile go a long way towards promoting many types of healthy relationships–from gate agents at the airport to people who are closest. Doesn’t mean I’m perfect. Far from it. And I tend to avoid confrontation when that might be the best response in a situation. But try my three little tips. See if you don’t get along better.

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