Emotional intelligence is a skill that needs consistent practice in order to be an effective tool in communication. There are three main aspects to harnessing emotional intelligence: 1) the ability to identify your own emotions, 2) being conscious of those emotions in decision making, and 3)the ability to manage the emotions. Applying emotional intelligence to your relationship could bring be the missing key in partner communication. So let’s break down how you can start strengthening your emotional intelligence to better communicate with your partner! By understanding your emotions and how to control them, you’ll be able to express how you feel and understand how your partner is feeling. This allows you to communicate more effectively and forge a stronger relationship.
Pause, Think, and Control!
In theory, pausing and thinking before acting is often much easier said than done. However, it gets easier and easier to remember the more you actively practice pausing before you act. Taking a moment to refrain from making a permanent comment or decision based on a temporary emotion could protect you from potential turmoil.
Once you’ve stopped and processed the emotions you are feeling, think about how you want to approach the situation. You may ask yourself, “What are my emotional strengths and weaknesses in this moment?” or “Is my current mood going to affect how I make a decision?” Pondering questions like this halt your response. Halting your response allows you to examine the situation for what is it and effectively communicate with your partner. Too often, couples will say hurtful things in the heat of the moment that can bring irreversible damage to a relationship.
After taking a moment to examine the situation, control your thoughts. You don’t have much control over the emotion you experience in a given moment. But you can control your reaction to those emotions by focusing inward. By striving to control your thoughts, you resist becoming a victim to emotional irregularity; this allows you to live in a way that is in harmony with your goals and values as a couple.
Accepting Criticism, Show Authenticity, Be Empathetic
Fortunately, no one is allowed to tell you how to feel. However, that means you should not regulate how someone is feeling, either. When your partner says that you have hurt them, take this criticism as an opportunity to learn more about your partner’s emotions. You may ask questions such as, “How can I make this better?”
Upon receiving that answer, approach your partner with your authentic self. Authenticity doesn’t mean to say what you think your partner may want to hear, but rather saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Stick to your values and principles to respectfully take about the next steps in moving forward.
Then, once you have both spoke your truth respectfully, allow space to be empathetic. The ability to show empathy, which is understanding other’s thoughts and feelings, will help you connect with your partner. Instead of judging or labeling them as something they are not, you can understand them. Being empathetic does not mean that you necessarily break and agree with your partner’s point of view, but it means you are attempting to understand, which will build a deeper bond and your will feel more connected as the relationship progresses.
Praise, Apologize, Forgive!
As humans, we all crave acknowledgment and appreciation. If you see the attempts of your partner trying to be emotionally intelligent to your specific emotions, let them know you see the effort. Let them know you see the best of them and the process of building trust between you and your partner will flourish. Allow your partner to practice understanding you and be ok if they may not understand the first time, as long as the actively engage in getting better for you.
On the other hand, have some humility and apologize. It takes massive amounts of courage and strength to say you’re sorry. This is a quality that will naturally build trust and show that you are understanding and willing to learn about your partner’s emotions to have a successful relationship. Emotional intelligence helps you realize that apologizing doesn’t always means you’re wrong, but it does mean you find your partner more valuable than your ego.
Once all is said and done, forgive each other. There’s nothing more to say. When you forgive, you prevent others from holding your emotions hostage and allow yourself to move forward.
Every day is an opportunity to practice your emotional intelligence and better connect with your partner. Relationships are hard work when emotions are not harnessed in a tactful and respectful way. Together you are your partner can persevere through hardships by being in tune with your individual emotions but also understanding of theirs. It takes practice and patience, but with each step taken toward building trust in your relationship, it will grow stronger. Emotional intelligence is a skill that takes trial and error until the practice is consistent and in sync. It’s worth every ounce of effort