A co-worker and I walked out of a meeting. She said, “Well that administrator didn’t know how to read the room! He was totally out of touch with the problems we face. And he didn’t show any empathy for what we all have been going through.”
A lack of emotional intelligence was clearly on display. The administrator was not perceptive. He didn’t pick up on the frustration of his workers, nor did he address their concerns. And his lack of awareness resulted in people feeling frustrated and discouraged. Some wanted to quit.
That same lack of awareness can happen in intimate relationships. A family member, spouse or friend doesn’t understand your feelings or the feelings of others. They don’t seem empathetic to the problems around them and are out of touch. This lack of “emotional intelligence” makes relationships more difficult.
Emotional intelligence is about being able to understand yourself and the perspective of others. It is that ability to respond to your own needs while also taking care of others. It is a type of intelligence that leads to trust and connection.
To find someone with emotional intelligence, look for these characteristics:
- The person has regulated emotions. They don’t respond in extreme ways–lose control or keep feelings stuffed inside. Instead, they tell you what they think and feel in ways that are regulated. No temper tantrums, no over the top outbursts or melt downs. No emotional hiding. They can identify their feelings and manage them.
- The person is not run by their feelings. Yes, feelings are important, but being aware of feelings is not the same as allowing those feelings to run your life. Too many people make decisions based on their emotions. This results in being ruled by the emotion of the moment rather than making decisions by a thoughtful process. Emotional reasoning is rampant in our culture as we see more and more people impulsively react to news and events. This reacting doesn’t bode well for relationships because emotions change and are not reliable. And they don’t always reflect reality.
- The person listens to constructive feedback. An emotionally intelligent person understands that feedback is needed for any relationship to grow. Thus, listening to feedback is important. And doing so, does not make the person feel defensive. Rather, feedback is used to reflect on how their actions affect other people. Feedback is a positive process. The information is used to become a better person.
- The person can say sorry and readily forgive. Emotionally intelligent people are aware of problems, know they make mistakes and don’t always do the right thing. But when they do falter, they see it, admit it and apologize. If they are the one who has been hurt, they forgive. They know the importance of not holding on to hurts to avoid resentment. Their goal is to always try to reconcile relationships because relationships are valued.
- The person is interested in the needs of others and serves. If your relationship is always about the other person, you do not have an emotionally intelligent partner. Someone who demands constant attention and doesn’t attend to what you need, is egocentric, meaning it is all about them. The self-absorbed person doesn’t make a good relationship partner because eventually you feel resentful. Instead, look for someone who is interested in your needs and will serve others.
Finally, emotionally intelligent people take their cues from biblical principles. The Bible tells us to be aware of our emotions, to regulate them and not allow negative emotions to rule us. In addition, empathy, compassion, and service are characteristic of the emotionally intelligent person and the Christian faith.
Check your Emotional Intelligence