More and more, it seems I’m hearing people talk about relationships that are vexing to impossible. Whether workplace or personal, the relationship is described as being beyond repair. Tensions are present – sometimes steady and stable, but sometimes escalating. According to the storyteller, there is nothing that can be done to rectify the situation.
When people describe such situations, I wonder if they’ve really tried everything possible, or are they giving up too quickly.
To repair relationships, we have to be willing to look for and find common ground – a place where our needs, interests and objectives meet. That place may be the desire for at least a civil relationship, or to be able to work effectively as colleagues, or feel more at ease, or to restore the relationship to its original, healthier state. To accomplish either end, one of the things you have to do is broaden your perspective and let go of the idea that, “I’m right. You’re wrong.”
Taking the first step to repair a difficult relationship requires Emotional Intelligence or EQ. It is the best tool for consciously choosing how to respond to aggression, indifference or anger. Allowing your emotional reflexes to determine your reaction will not yield the relationship building result that serves everyone best. It will only fuel rudeness and hostility – which can be contagious and debilitating.
People with high EQ know how to give themselves the opportunity to calm down before responding or reacting in a way that escalates an already bad situation. They think before they act – seeking to understand the repercussions of the reflex response.
They also know that empathy for an adversary helps diffuse the “me vs. you” mentality. Often times, there’s much that lies beneath the surface of a negative interaction. Getting to the root cause can permanently change the nature of a relationship.
Learning to respond with emotional intelligence is not only important to healthy interpersonal communication, it’s one of the things employers value even more than book smarts or industry knowledge.
So before you lash out, dismiss someone or turn inward because they’ve hurt your feelings, offended or “dissed” you in some way, remember, your reaction can have lasting impact on your career and ultimately your happiness.
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