Interpersonal Relationships is fitness training for your Emotional Intelligence

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Interpersonal Relationships refers to the skill of developing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships that are characterized by the ability to both “give” and “take” in relationships, and where trust and compassion are openly expressed in words or by behavior.

Why are relationships important in our life? Dalai Lama said: “We humans are social beings. We come into the world as the result of others’ actions. We survive here in dependence on others. Whether we like it or not, there is hardly a moment of our lives when we don’t benefit from others’ activities. For this reason it’s hardly surprising that most of our happiness arises in the context of our relationships with others.”

In addition to the wisdom of the Dalai Lama I look at relationships as excellent training of our Emotional Intelligence. Because relationships:

- Mirror our strong and weak points; they give us a chance to forge our self-regard and self-confidence.

- Offer plenty of opportunities to foster our self-awareness by reflecting on how we feel in relationships and understanding out feelings

- Increase our empathy in putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes in spite of the fact that “our shoes” are the most comfortable ones

- Stretch our flexibility by bringing us out of our comfort zone

- Catalyze our optimism by receiving support and compassionate from other people in moments of setback

Some people have a natural ability to build strong interpersonal relationships. They are proficient at intuitively knowing how to keep reciprocity in “give” and “take”. This balance is essential to keep the relationship healthy.

There are, though, some individuals who “give” more. Others sometimes see them as lacking self-regard or seeking recognition. Sometimes such people feel taken advantage of. They have difficulty being assertive. This is what fuels their “over-giving”.

If you the “Giver” in the relationships, use your self-awareness and assertiveness to keep reciprocity in “give” and “take”. Emotional self-awareness indicates how you feel in a relationship. Do you give more than you take? Are your personal boundaries respected or violated? Assertiveness helps you to be “a good lawyer” for yourself in bringing a point across when needed.

There are other individuals who “take” more. Others see them as selfish and not caring. Sometimes they forget to even say “thank you,” taking other’s people help for granted. The difficulty in dealing with such people is to make them aware of the “over-taking” behavior. Often their self-awareness, empathy and reality testing are not serving them enough, while their self-regard and assertiveness intimidate others.

To check whether you are the “taker” or a “giver” in relationships, ask for honest feedback and be ready to accept it. Use relationship to develop your Emotional Intelligence.

Independence

“A wise man makes his own decisions, an ignorant man follows the public opinion.”      Chinese Proverb

 

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Independence  is the ability to be self directed and free from emotional dependency on others. People who demonstrate a healthy level of independence are usually willing and able to choose their own course of action. They are comfortable making decisions on their own knowing that at times people will disagree with them. They take initiative and feel confident doing so yet they avoid damaging productive working relationships by excluding others when making decisions. Being independent also means freely expressing emotions. Independent people don’t need reassurance or a group consensus to say what they feel.

If your independence is low

People with low independence are susceptible to the influence of colleagues and superiors. They might be resistant or uncomfortable if required to work autonomously. In conversations or meetings, they may find themselves adopting the same emotions as others in the room or easily conforming to others’ decisions. While this can give the impression of being a great team player, it is at the expense of neglecting their own independently generated ideas.

Strategy to develop greater independence

Dependency on others may result from a lack of self-confidence or fears of being perceived as “being not …. enough”. Removing the fears and barriers will create a space to take accountability for your own decisions and actions. Work with the coach to understand the reasons for your dependency.

If your independence is too high

Being overly independent may sometimes bring low results. Overly independent people may be seen as arrogant or come across as not needing any help from anyone. They must be cautious not to neglect the emotions and opinions of others and keep a close eye on how often they make decisions unilaterally, rather than building coalitions.

Strategy to develop if you are too independent

Securing Buy-In

Effective, independent professionals don’t march off in their own direction hoping that others follow; they balance self-directed thought with the ability to secure buy-in and support from key relationships.

- Examine past decisions that were not well supported by your colleagues. What did your decision-making process look like? Where might securing buy-in have broken down?

- Brainstorm ways that you can involve others in your decision-making process. The ultimate decision or plan may rest with you, but it will be easier to gain support when others feel empowered throughout the decision-making process.

Assertiveness – are you a good lawyer for yourself?

 

one caucasian lawyer man in studio isolated on white backgroundAre you a good lawyer for yourself? Can you articulate your opinions, your emotions, and your needs while demonstrating respect to other people? If yes, you possess a great skill – Assertiveness. Assertiveness 
involves communicating feelings, beliefs, and thoughts openly, and defending personal rights and values in a socially acceptable, non-offensive, and non-destructive manner.

Picture a line between the words passive and aggressive: At the middle point of this line lies assertiveness, a place where you work with others by finding the right words at the right time to express yourself.

 

Advantages of being assertive 

People who have the skill to find the right words at the right time to get their point across in a clear and confident manner are seen as self-confident. They allow others to see where they stand on a decision or on the matters at hand. They have a better chance to achieve their goals by articulating their needs.
At the same time they view the rights and opinions of others as sacred and in this way foster relationships.

What if you are too passive on the assertiveness scale? 

Scared business man hide himself under the office deskThe tendency to keep your thoughts inside may lead you to feel exhausted, frustrated, or even angry that you are on your own dealing with your unvoiced opinions. You may ruminate over bad decision your boss made, the “crazy” plan that someone created, or that coworker who took credit for your work. It’s as if all this occurred without your approval or your input, and yet you are left wanting to say so much. You could also be seen as lacking initiative, particularly if you are low in independence. Your great ideas may stay hidden from your team and as a result you will not be as enthusiastic about others’ ideas or committed to following their directions.

What if you are too aggressive on the assertiveness scale?

Businessman shouting through megaphoneIf you tend to pull on strong emotions and convictions to state your position, you may miss important information or feedback that may alter your perspective. If you easily cross the line from assertiveness to aggressiveness, you might be seen as stubborn, or arrogant lacking flexibility in your thinking. This can result in unproductive behavior and damage relationships.

 

Strategy to develop if you are too passive 

Overcoming Fear.

A common reason for overly passive behavior is the fear of losing something as a result of speaking up. Identify the last three times you were passive (meetings are great places to start). Then, brainstorm all the possible:

1. Positive and negative results that could have occurred had you been more assertive.
Most of our fear comes from an exaggeration of bad consequences.

2.  Think of situations when the good consequences outweighed the bad.

3. Identify when similar situations will be occurring in the future. These will be relatively safe opportunities for you to practice being more assertive.

Strategy to develop if you are too aggressive

Crossing the Aggression Line.

If you have a rather strong assertiveness, you need to be particularly cautious that your behavior doesn’t work against you or harm your relationships.

1. Set up a few rules for yourself that you will follow when your behavior starts to cross the line into aggression. For example, interrupting others in a meeting is a sign that you are no longer being respectful. If this happens, a rule could be “Openly apologize to the interrupted person and be silent until it is your time to speak.”

2. Seek feedback from a trustworthy person. How did this person view your way of communicating?

Working with a coach will facilitate the exploration and developing process. Book a 30 minutes free complimentary session to test how coaching for Emotional intelligence works.

Self-actualization – putting your strengths to good use

 

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 Self-actualization can be summed up in three words: pursuit of meaning. Self-actualized people put their strengths to    good use, personally and professionally. They are committed to the ongoing development of their talents and abilities. In the business world, this means finding purpose and enjoyment in your job and performing to your fullest potential.

 

 Disadvantage of scoring low on Self-actualization

People who score low on Self-Actualization fail to leverage their personal strengths and often appear to be disengaged. They may come across as a person whose internal fire has gone out. In turn they may be seen as lacking drive the vision to achieve something greater than their current status. An unfulfilling job and untapped potential may lead to stress and emotional exhaustion.

Advantage of scoring high on Self-actualization

Self-actualized people are likely to experience harmony knowing that their talents are being put to good use. Should a setback occur, they can bounce back quickly knowing there is a greater purpose behind their actions. People who have a drive for self-actualization are often perceived by others as being deliberate and purposeful. Their internal fire of fulfillment lights them up from inside.

Strategy to develop Self-actualization

To light your internal fire and keep it going

1. Discover Your Passion: What fulfills you? When are you at your best?

Identifying activities that you are truly passionate about will provide the direction and purpose to your life. If you are unsure of the answers, meeting with a career/life counselor or a coach may provide insight.

2.Protect Time for Your Passion

Examine your schedule: are you satisfied with how much time you spend doing things that light your internal fire? If not, make one or two changes in your timetable. Start small, changing your schedule in 15-minute slots to slowly integrate enriching activities. Finish big, organizing your life around your passion.

Self-expression – Are you a poker face or an open book?

Man Being StrangledWhat do you usually do with your emotions? Do you bottle them up and put on a poker face? Or do you wear your heart on your sleeve, being an open book for others and expressing all your emotions fully? Or maybe you are one of those who know how to express emotions to the appropriate extent and at the right moment.

The ability to express 
one’s feelings verbally 
and non-verbally is called Emotional Expression. Individuals who effectively express emotions find the right words and physical actions to convey their feelings in a way that is not hurtful to others.

If you tend to bottle emotions inside and not share them with others, you can create the illusion either that you are emotionless or that you do not grasp the significance of the situation. Your less expressive style may mean that in new environments you could struggle to engage others in a meaningful way.

If you express your emotions too frequently, you can quickly overwhelm your colleagues by sharing too much emotion at the wrong times. People usually tend to bottle up their emotions because of their fear of being rejected or of hurting others. To overcome this fear, ask for feedback after you express your true emotions and thoughts.

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By expressing your emotions you give yourself permission to be heard and seen. This means being a good lawyer for yourself and fostering your self-regard. Successful relationships flow from a willingness to openly exchange thoughts and feelings. Sharing how you feel about a decision or issue helps improve team communication and decision making, resolves interpersonal conflict, and helps you gain the resources that you need.
One strategy to develop effective emotional expression is an “Expression Monitor”:
1). Practice self-reflection daily to monitor to what extent you express your emotions and feelings. Measure your ability on a scale from 1 to 10. Where are you on this scale today? Where on the scale do you want to be? What do you need to do to reach the score you desire?
2). Observe the “Ripple Effect” of your emotional expression. How do people react  to your words or behavior? Do they tend to withdraw after you express yourself? Do they pay little attention to it? Or does your message come across as you intend it to?
3). Use your findings from the self-reflection and “Ripple Effect” observation to develop your emotional expression. Increase or reduce the “volume” of your emotions. Learn from situations when your expression lands well.Become “Emotionally Smart” by making emotional expression an effective tool for communicating your thoughts, needs and and values.