When you go through trauma or addiction, different relationships in your life often experience changes. In some respects, this might be a good cleansing opportunity to release people who are negative influences and who don’t respect your healthy choices.
On the other hand, you might have some individuals who supported you through every troublesome turn, but the fabric of your relationship was worn a little thin during the challenging times, and you want to make it better. Every type of relationship you have can use a little tune-up now and then, be it a romantic partnership, family bond, trusted friend—even a co-worker. Your first steps often require expanding your emotional intelligence.
Oxford Dictionary defines emotional intelligence (EQ) as “the capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions; and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” As you progress with cognitive behavioral therapy and other forms of counseling, you might just be realizing the impact of raising your EQ.
Start Improving Relationships With a Heightened EQ
In an article for Psych Central, psychologist Paula Durlofsky explains how better emotional intelligence helps strengthen your relationships. “A high EQ helps individuals to communicate better, reduce their anxiety and stress, defuse conflicts, improve relationships, empathize with others, and effectively overcome life’s challenges,” she said. “Our emotional intelligence affects the quality of our lives because it influences our behavior and relationships.”
When your life’s path is altered by difficulties, it’s challenging to maintain healthy relationships without a certain skill set. Durlofksy suggests that you can “cultivate and increase your EQ” in the following ways to help improve interactions:
- Self-awareness—which enables us to understand our feelings and “not avoid our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear, and sadness.”
- Emotional regulation—instead of always reacting to someone impulsively from a place of raw emotion, a heightened EQ helps you understand triggers and stress reactions, learn how to control or reduce quicksilver responses, and improve communication.
- Empathy—this is the bedrock of meaningful relationships and “allows us to recognize how and why people feel the way they do, and anticipate how our actions and behaviors influence other people.”
- Social skills—once you’ve expanded your capacity for self-awareness, emotional regulation, and empathy, you’ll discover it’s much easier to use your renewed interpersonal abilities to foster better communication.
The Southwest Institute for Emotional Intelligence in Phoenix offers you a chance to assess your EQ online to help you get started on the path of improved emotional intelligence.
Other Skills to Better Relationships
When you research ways to build stronger relationships, you’ll find that a lot of the advice seems to address two primary categories: partners in love or workplace leaders. And yet, the basic principles of EQ matter to everyone. These skills not only work with your mate and co-workers, but also a parent, sibling, or friend. How do you put these and other skills into practice? Here are some ideas.
- Reinforce the positives of what someone does or says, and use constructive critique for minor adjustments. So your partner leaves folded clothes on the dryer for days after finishing laundry. Instead of bugging them about it—”You never put clothes away!”—try something like, “I really appreciate that you got all the laundry done. Can I help you put everything away, or are you taking care of it?”
- Remember: a high EQ means you’re in control of your responses. So use “I” statements to express yourself, instead of “you” directives. We all have our tail stepped on from time to time, but constant attacks never make anyone feel good, and this contributes to eroded relationships. So your friend is always on his phone when you get together, and it annoys you. Instead of saying, “You’re on your phone all the time! Why do you do this?” try something like, “Hey, I like hanging with you, and I’m glad you made the time. Why don’t we put our phones away and watch the game with your play-by-play!”
- Direct, honest listening demonstrates empathy and is a major part of good communication, but few of us know how to do it well, because we want to interrupt with our thoughts. One way to be a better listener is by acknowledging what someone is saying, such as, “I can see why you’re angry about this.” You can also use this for yourself: “I’m trying to understand my feelings and sort them out, so I appreciate how you’re listening to me right now.”
- When you’re with someone, be fully present. Look beyond the words they speak and more to how they say it: notice their facial expressions and body language. Maintain good eye contact. Create a space the two of you value that allows for each of you to share what’s important and consider one another’s interests, feelings, and desires.
Keep in mind that while you’re focused on personal growth, other people might not have the same focus or make the same effort. It’s okay. Be kind, stay thoughtful, and acknowledge how every relationship needs individualized treatment.
The Tools You Need at Cottonwood Tucson
Whether it’s understanding family-of-origin issues or processing aspects of addiction, grief, or trauma, the experts at our facility provide in-depth counseling services to help you create more meaningful relationships. Reach out to us to learn more.