How to Improve Your Relationships

Emotional Intelligence (EI) became a popular concept to help corporation to boost up performance, improve their employee engagements and develop top performers (Goleman, 1995). As studies have shown, 90 per cent of top performers have high EQ (Emotional Quotient, which is the measurement of one’s emotional intelligence), and EI has been one of the key indicators for success not just for improving professional life or business life but also to personal life.

Healthy relationships are important for living a happy and healthy life. A famous longitudinal study conducted by Harvard University on 268 of the university’ male sophomores in 1938 produced a profound finding that there was a strong correlation between these men’s flourishing lives and their relationships with family, friends and the community. People live longer when they are happy in their relationships and have less mental and physical decline the study found.

How can we use emotional intelligence to improve our relationships so that we can live a good life? This is a topic professor Robert Waldinger at Harvard Medical School outlined in his TED talk “What is a good life?” Emotional intelligence is an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and behaviors that determine how well we understand and express ourselves, understand others, relate with them, and cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures. Among these competencies, inter-personal skills are among the most important to help a person to connect with others and establish long-lasting relationships. In order to develop this skill, one needs to practice empathy and active listening. It starts with trying to understand the other person’s perspective and the feeling and emotions they are experiencing. You need to feel what it would be like to be in their shoes.

Practicing empathy

is what Steven Covey states is to “Seek first to understand before being understood.” Each of us has our own bias that was shaped by our thinking, culture and background. We normally tend to look at things through our own lens. To practice empathy, we need to be mindfully aware that each person is unique and special in his or her own right with his or her own feelings and emotions. For the best connection with the other person, don’t use your head but instead open your heart and connect with a loving intention and the willingness to accept differences. Practicing gratitude and respect can lead to empathy and allow us to connect at a deeper level.

Active listening

is another EI skill that we need to develop in order to establish and develop strong relationships with other. You listen deeply, with the intention to feel and understand the other person, and don’t just respond to what the other person has to say. When we open our heart and listen with intention and attention, the other person can pick up that positive energy and feel the warmth and the caring attitude from us. As a result, a true connection is established. Empathetic listening and active listening are key strategies to enable us to develop a strong relationship with others.

Relationships are important in our lives. By setting the intention to practice empathy through gratitude and respect, and active listening using your heart instead of your head, emotional intelligence will help establish mutual satisfying relationships with your family, friends and colleagues. Each of us has the power to choose our intention and attention to make this happen.

For more information, you can come and join the Lyceum team on June 15 to learn more about how to improve relationships through emotional intelligence.

By Dr. Anhlan Nguyen

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