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Embracing Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Thriving Relationships


Colleagues Communicating
Embracing Emotional Intelligence: The Key to Thriving Relationships

Do you often pause to consider how others feel in different situations?


Are you able to express your emotions healthily and constructively?


Do you find yourself becoming more aware of your emotional reactions to events or interactions over time?


If you answered Yes to these questions, it’s likely you have developed some of the skills that form the basis of emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise, understand and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It’s made up of different characteristics and skill sets, all of which can be learned. Daniel Goleman, the renowned psychologist, describes four domains of emotional intelligence:


Self-awareness 

Emotional intelligence starts with knowing what you’re feeling and thinking, understanding why you’re feeling it and how this impacts your behaviour and decision-making processes. Self-awareness is also about recognising what motivates you and brings you fulfilment, so you can choose how to align your actions and behaviours with your goals.


Self-management

This refers to the ability to handle impulses or effectively regulate emotions, so feelings don’t get in the way of what you’re doing. The ability to use emotions positively and constructively is key to developing emotional intelligence. You are in charge of your behaviour regardless of your emotions and feelings, so the trick here is to slow the brain down so you can choose the most appropriate emotional response to the situation. Try maintaining a curious and positive outlook in situations, for example, looking for opportunities where others would see setbacks.


Awareness of others 

Sometimes known as social awareness, this aspect of emotional intelligence is all about developing empathy. It involves sensing what someone else is feeling, taking an active interest in understanding their needs and concerns and listening attentively to explore different points of view. It enables you to see problems from different perspectives, leading to more considered and objective decision-making. 

Another dimension of social awareness is understanding the dynamics, culture and politics within an organisation, also known as organisational awareness. This entails identifying the power relationships, understanding the dynamics that influence decision making and navigating the unspoken rules that govern behaviour within an organisation.


Relationship management

The final component is to put it all together to build and maintain healthy and impactful relationships with others. This requires building rapport, being engaging and persuasive, and positively impacting others, guiding them to work towards a shared goal. An integral part of relationship management is the ability to manage conflict, helping others through difficult situations and working through disagreements to reach workable resolutions.


If you’re looking to improve your emotional intelligence here are a few suggestions to try out:


  • Practice self-awareness: 

Keep a journal, record your observations and responses and get to know yourself. Pay attention to how you react in different situations and consider the underlying reasons for your feelings and actions. Learn about what your values are and why they are important to you, what motivates you and what riles you up.


  • Practice empathy in daily interactions: 

Make a conscious effort to consider others' perspectives and feelings in your interactions. Ask open-ended questions, validate their emotions, and show genuine interest in their well-being.


  • Seek feedback

Ask for feedback from trusted friends or colleagues to explore the differences between how you see yourself and how others see you. Identify some probing questions to open a conversation. Questions like: “Am I aware of what’s happening around me? How well do I regulate my emotions? Do I appear motivated? Am I empathic? What are my social skills like?”

Ask them to be kind, sincere, clear and specific in their communication (if you remember the advice from my recent article on giving feedback!).

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