What holds a relationship together?
Traditional thought teaches us about love, commitment, and honesty. However, it seems like there’s more to successful communication and relationship management. This additional je ne sais quoi is emotional intelligence, also known as EQ. The concept was first introduced by the American psychologist Daniel Goleman in 1995, but is now widely accepted in the scientific community.
So, what is it all about?
What Is Emotional Intelligence?
Being emotionally intelligent means recognizing, understanding, and managing our own and other people’s emotions.
Just like its social counterpart, social intelligence, it’s a skill that only partially depends on biology and mostly depends on our own willingness to learn and grow as people.
This means that regardless of who you are, how old you are, or where you come from, it’s never too late to start building your emotional intelligence skills.
Generally, emotional intelligence is defined by four key areas:
- Self-regulation: the ability to control one’s own impulses and channel one’s behavior in a healthy and constructive way. Self-management is about taking initiative, sticking through commitments, and adapting to an ever-changing environment.
- Self-awareness: the ability to recognize one’s own emotions and make conclusions about their potential effects on one’s thoughts and behavior. Basically, this means knowing your weaknesses and strengths and recognizing triggers that might send us off-track.
- Social awareness: empathy, understanding other people’s emotions and needs, reading emotional cues and signals, recognizing relationship dynamics.
- Relationship management: knowing what is necessary to build and maintain a good, honest, healthy relationship. Ability to communicate clearly, inspire and influence other people, adapt to teamwork, manage conflicts, and accept differences.
Do you recognize some of these as your strong or weak sides?
The Benefits of Emotional Intelligence
Building our EQ skills gives us the kind of sensitivity we look for in other people. The deep understanding of emotions, sensitivity to signals of emotional shifts, total engagement in a relationship, and, finally, emotional stability and life satisfaction are the main benefits of developing emotional intelligence skills.
We all have the potential to achieve the state of unconditional happiness, deep intimacy, mutual commitment, and kindness, as well as soulful caring. The question is: are we ready to get critical of our own actions and gear ourselves towards improvement?
How to Apply Emotional Intelligence in a Relationship?
While we strongly recommend reading Daniel Goleman’s bestseller Emotional Intelligence, we’ll share with you a brief guide on how to approach conversations, which habits to instill, and what behaviors to enhance on your quest of nurturing your EQ.
Improve your self-regulation skills by:
- Mindfully treating your thoughts and emotions;
- Accepting the way you feel in different situations;
- Acceptingchallenges and obstacles as opportunities to learn and grow;
- Building tolerance to frustration;
- Recognizing that you always have a choice in how you respond in situations;
- Improving your communication skills.
How Can This Help Me in a Relationship?
Self-regulation is all about controlling our impulses and learning how to manage our behavior in different environments. For example, instead of exploding in anger, you can learn to regulate your emotions, knowing that such explosion can only cause further chaos. Then, you can take a few moments to analyze what is going on and ask yourself about the dynamic of the conflict, instead of following your impulses.
Improve your self-awareness by:
- Actively listening;
- Practicing mindfulness and consciousness;
- Developing a growth mindset;
- Keeping a journal;
- Practicing gratitude.
How Can These Habits Help Me in a Relationship?
Enhancing self-awareness through these habits helps you become more introspective and positive and understand your position in this world, relationships, and the universe as a whole. By becoming more aware of your own thought and emotional process, you prepare yourself for healthier participation in your relationship(s).
Improve your social awareness by:
- Asking your interlocutor more open-ended question;
- Noticing other people’s social skills, and learning from them;
- Practicing people-watching;
- Engaging in social situations;
- Practicing active listening;
- Analyzing the body language and emotional cues of your interlocutors;
- Minding your own body language and facial expression;
- Learning to address particular behaviors instead of the whole personality in conflicts;
- Showing empathy;
- Showing honest interest in your interlocutor’s story.
How Can This Help Me in My Relationship?
By practicing your social skills and applying the above-mentioned behaviors, you make your interlocutor (partner) feel welcome to speak about their thoughts and feelings, by creating a safe and warm atmosphere for your conversation. By becoming more sensitive to non-verbal language and emotional cues, you can help your interlocutor open up more in a conversation. Perhaps you’ll recognize some states and emotions that they themselves can not process yet.
Relationship management is something that comes naturally once you master all of the skills described above. This aspect of EQ practically represents the integration of the other three.
Relationship management means that you are able to recognize when your relationship is going downhill, even when there are no clear events indicating a crisis. Such situations are normal for every relationship: becoming distant or overwhelmed by each other or going through changes, stressful situations, etc., and all they require is additional attention and engagement.
By growing your EQ skills, you’ll become better at recognizing and reacting to such situations, and much more adept at managing crisis and stress.
Wrapping It Up
While IQ skills are something most of us learn in schools, EQ is the kind of skill we need to practice and develop on our own. Keep yourself informed and educated, ask questions, and believe in personal change and growth. Progress takes time, effort, and consistency–nothing can be achieved overnight.