The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Enhancing Communication

 

There’s something that’s been bugging me recently. Like most things that bother me, I realise it’s a reflection of me. Recently, I enjoyed a beautiful day out with two of my dearest friends. As we meandered down a path towards the farm animals, I casually mentioned I fancy a coffee. My friend responded reactively. They didn’t want coffee yet, and stated all the reasons why coffee – at that time – was a bad idea for them.

 

This caused a fire to ignite inside me. It roared through my body. I feel comfortable and safe with this friend, and launched into a rant about how my desire for coffee wasn’t about them. I went on. Just because I want coffee, they don’t have to have coffee etc. – you may get the picture!

 

The moment got me thinking about a curious behaviour I’ve noticed: how often, when someone says something, do we respond by making it about ourselves?

 

The next day, while still pondering, I found myself in a voice note conversation with another friend. It went something like this:

 

Friend: “Hey, how you doing? I’m painting a house all day…”

 

Me: “I’m good…I should probably paint my house but…” (and I launched into all the reasons I’m not painting my house).

 

I did it too – I DO IT too! I turned her comment about painting houses into a conversation about me. After criticising my friend for making my statement about them, I did the same thing with my friend’s chat about painting houses.

 

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What’s going on here?

 

I can only talk about my own experience. When my friend mentioned painting houses, I immediately related it to my own situation. This is a common human tendency, where we relate other’s experiences to our own to find common ground. However, it can also divert the conversation away from the original topic and the person who brought it up, making them feel unheard, unimportant or even silenced.

 

Emotional Intelligence & Active Listening

 

Emotional intelligence plays a crucial role in effective communication. It’s the ability to recognise, understand, and manage our own emotions, while also being able to recognise, understand, and consider the emotions of others. Emotional intelligence can transform how we interact with others, leading to more meaningful and productive conversations.

 

One of the key components of emotional intelligence is active listening. Active listening involves concentrating, understanding, responding, and remembering. It means listening with all our senses and giving our full attention to the speaker.

 

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Empathy and Perspective-Taking

 

Empathy is another crucial aspect of emotional intelligence. It involves understanding and sharing the feelings of another. When my friend talked about painting houses, instead of immediately thinking about my own situation, I could have shown empathy by acknowledging her effort and perhaps asking more about it.

 

Empathy allows us to connect deeply with others. It shows we care about their experiences and emotions. By practising empathy, we can enhance our relationships and communication.

 

Self-Awareness and Self-Regulation

 

Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. It involves recognising our own emotions and how they affect our thoughts and behaviour. Self-regulation, the ability to manage our emotions, is equally important. It means staying calm and composed even when faced with frustrating situations.

 

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Building Better Communication Habits

 

Improving emotional intelligence requires practice and commitment. Here are some steps to build better communication habits:

 

  1. Pause Before Responding: Take a moment to process what the other person says before responding or reacting.
  2. Practice Active Listening: Focus on what the other person is saying without planning your response. Use verbal and non-verbal cues to show you are listening.
  3. Show Empathy: Acknowledge the other person’s feelings and experiences. Try to understand their perspective without immediately relating it to your own.
  4. Reflect on Your Emotions: Regularly reflect on your emotional responses and their impact on your interactions. This can help increase self-awareness and self-regulation.
  5. Seek Feedback: Ask trusted friends and family for feedback on your communication. This can provide valuable insights into areas for improvement.

 

Emotional intelligence is a powerful tool in enhancing communication. By understanding and managing our own emotions and observing the emotions of others, we can foster more meaningful and effective interactions. Through active listening, empathy, self-awareness, and self-regulation, we can build stronger relationships and create a more empathetic and connected world. So next time a friend talks about painting houses, I’ll remember to listen, understand, and respond with empathy.

 

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If you’re interested in discovering more about yourself, your emotions and behaviours take a read about how we can do that together here.