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The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Managing Relationships

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Emotional intelligence can help people to lead and manage their relationships far more effectively. Evidence suggests that people with higher levels of emotional intelligence lead more successful careers and nurture better relationships than those with low emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is defined as: ‘the ability to understand emotions of own and that of others. It is the ability to regulate and manage these emotions’. An exploration of emotional intelligence aligns closely with its central core domains.

The role of self-awareness

Self-awareness is about knowing and understanding our own emotions and increasing our ability to cope. Within relationships, there are numerous questions that we ask ourselves. For example, did I discipline my child correctly? Can I accept that my partner is career-minded and spends too much time at work? Is it fair my partner seems to spend more time on the golf course than at home? Is my relationship falling apart?

The process of self-awareness is simple. Becoming aware of how you react to situations is priceless in accepting how you deal with situations at home. Conversely, having limited awareness will lead to distractions, arguments, and maybe a poorer relationship. Therefore, a clear understanding and the ability to discuss matters can lead to better relationships.

How to increase self-awareness

One suggestion to increase self-awareness would be to discuss plans at the start of each week to appreciate where one is coming from or what has been planned for that week. Self-reflection is also a useful tool to increase self-awareness. Reflection enables people to better understand their own emotions and the consequences these actions have on their partners. In essence, increased self-awareness leads to a better family, work and social life balance.

The role of self-regulation

The concept of self-regulation is relative to understanding how your body reacts to emotions. Emotions can be categorised as positive or negative. Positive emotions provide people with affirmations that lead to increased direction and focus. People who experience positive emotions will generally be happier and feel mentally balanced. Negative emotions fuel the body with feelings of despair, stress, anxiety, and even depression. These issues lead to a loss of control.

Therefore, people should attempt to regulate how they feel and recognise their feelings and that of others. Regulating your emotions is important as relationships fluctuate between happiness and sadness. If one can be in control of their emotions it fosters better thought processes. For example, supporting your partner through postnatal depression, losing a loved one or moving house can be linked to fluctuating emotions.

Recognise your emotions and overcome negative feelings by understanding your mindset. For example, identify how you feel through situations that elicit positive and negative emotions. Deal with loved one’s through acceptance and discuss feelings. Remaining positive can be achieved through listening to music or taking part in exercise.

The role of motivation

Motivation is an inner desire that is beneficial to all human life. Without motivation, human life could be almost non-existent. Remaining motivated is beneficial and can help foster relationships. Planning days out to engage with the family will increase satisfaction. Working with your partner can be useful in providing extra motivation. Having a weekly strategy is an ideal and effective way of knowing what is planned.

Examples of plans could relate to working out at the gym together, watching a film together or visiting the garden centre together.

While it is acceptable that careers and tiredness can get in the way of family life, it is also recommended that the core of family values should not be dispensed, and doing things together can increase motivation levels and make relationships stronger and valued.

The role of empathy

Empathy is essential when supporting each other. Not being empathetic to your loved one can be detrimental and should be addressed. Empathy is about understanding needs, desires, and appreciation. To foster empathy it would be useful to identify partner needs and examine ways to meet these. We must question whether we understand other’s needs. Are we capable of thinking what they are thinking or acting? We should attempt to not become too self-centred about ‘me’, but actually be all-rounded about ‘us’. Having discussions on how to support one another promotes empathetic needs and desire.

The purpose of emotional intelligence is to understand oneself and others. The more we practise self-awareness and develop strategies to support each other the better opportunity of having effective relationships.

Gobinder Gill teaches psychology and research methods. 


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