In our fifth and final installment of our ongoing series regarding Emotional Intelligence, we are going to discuss the last component of EI which is simply, Social Skills. There are many different areas within the social skills spectrum, some of which include communication skills, conflict management skills, leadership skills, building rapport with others, team-work, effective management of change, and persuasion skills. Due to the high volume within this category, we are going to focus on two specific areas: conflict management skills and effective management of change.
We understand how hard it can be to handle conflicts in a healthy and beneficial manner, and although no one likes conflict, we all find ourselves in this type of situation at some point or another. Depending on the depth of the conflict, we may find ourselves feeling drained, emotionally exhausted, or frustrated if we are unable to properly resolve issues with our coworkers, family members, friends or loved ones.
Conflict management is somewhat all-encompassing because it has to do with teamwork, negotiation, respect, and flexibility within the issue at hand. As we increase our self-awareness and self-reflection abilities within Emotional Intelligence, it becomes easier for us to handle all of these components in a way that can assist us in reaching a conclusion in a manner that does not damage our relationships.
Self-Awareness in Conflict Management
Keep an eye out for your emotional triggers. We have all been in the midst of an argument where something is said or done that causes us to begin to tense up, and possibly push us into responding out of anger or frustration. Although this can be a completely natural response, it may cause things to be said or done that were not our intention, which in turn may hurt those that we are having a conflict with. We can manage this by utilizing our self-awareness skill to internally monitor how we are feeling so we are aware of the potential for our emotions to overtake us during our discussion.
During your discussion, pay strong attention to how you are feeling emotionally. When you begin to notice emotions like anger, frustration, irritation, or high stress, take a moment to breathe and distance yourself from that emotion. It is completely understandable to feel any of those emotions during a conflict, but that does not mean that you have to act upon that emotion. If you find yourself in a situation where you can feel your emotions beginning to increase:
- Take a breather. There is nothing wrong with putting a conversation on hold so you can step away for a minute or two and cool down. You do not need to finish the conversation in one sitting, and if you feel as if you are getting close to an emotional state that would be counterproductive to your discussion, just put a pin in it. You will be able to continue making progress when you are able to remove yourself from a situation where emotions run high.
- Come into the discussion with an open mind. Many of us have people in our lives that we may view as “difficult” or “impossible to reason with.” If we begin a conversation with this thought at the front of our minds, it will be difficult to manage a conflict in a respectful manner, because you have already made up your mind that it is going to be an uphill battle. If you wipe the slate clean before tackling a conflict, you will be surprised at how much easier it can be to reach a resolution.
- First and foremost, do your best to understand the other party before trying to explain your point of view. There are many times when we go into a discussion about conflict where we feel as if we are absolutely right, and we need to defend that point until the other party fully understands. When we feel strongly about our position in a discussion, we tend to not listen to the person across the table from us, which will not lead us to resolution. In conflict management, we need to do our best to try to understand the other person’s point of view and what they are trying to say, before we begin our own narrative in the discussion. You can utilize reflective listening skills during this time, where you repeat back parts of what the other party is saying to you so that you show you understand what they are saying. If they feel you do not fully understand their point, they will explain it further, which can lead to a place of deeper understanding.
Change is something that we have no control over, and something that a lot of us can be resistant to. There is a strange feeling sometimes associated with being exposed to something new or changing a habit that you have been doing the same way for years.
Effective management of change can be a difficult hurdle for any of us, but when we actively work towards embracing and understanding change, our view of the world can shift entirely.
Tips for Effective Management of Change
- Take a moment and look into why you may be resisting this change. A lot of our resistances come from some sort of underlying fear or worry, which is completely natural. When we dig deeper into the source of this feeling, we can find ways to manage this change. Let’s look at an example. Let’s say that I have been working for a company for ten years, yet every time a policy or procedure changes, I find myself becoming irritated or frustrated, wishing things could just stay the same. Although on the surface I feel that I just don’t adapt well to change, there could be several layers underneath. Maybe I pride myself in my ability to do my job well, so if something changes I worry that I will not be able to grasp it quickly, and will not be seen as a top performer. On the other hand, maybe I like the fact that I am independent, so when changes arise and I have to ask questions, I feel less independent which in turn makes me upset. There is always a deeper level adding to our fear of change, and if we are able to locate that and define it, we can effectively work towards changing that habit into a healthy one.
- When you are faced with a major change in your life, focus on the positives that may come from it. Ask yourself questions such as “what opportunities are there for me from this change?” or “how will this change make my life better?” As you begin to look at change through a positive lens, you will find yourself able to adapt to it much easier.
- Remember that you have the power to choose the outcome of this change. If you decide to view the change as something negative, it will more than likely feel negative to you. However, if you decide to instead choose to see the change as positive, it will feel positive. Your brain is a powerful tool, which can be an extraordinary ally when we are met with uncertainty and change in our lives.
We hope that you have enjoyed our series on Emotional Intelligence, and that it has sparked something within you. We are all capable of doing anything that we set our minds to, we just need to make sure that we believe in ourselves and actively pursue positive growth in our life.
If you have missed any of our previous installments, you can view them here:
- Part 1: Self-Awareness
- Part 2: Self-Regulation
- Part 3: Motivation
- Part 4: Empathy
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