While having a conversation with a colleague the other day, we started talking about emotional intelligence. He told me emotional intelligence is the act of making people feel good about themselves during the interaction you have with them.
It got me thinking: how do I do that purposefully? For me to make someone feel good about themselves, I need to understand where I am emotionally and where my partner in the conversation is emotionally, too.
With a little help from Transactional Analysis (TA), I’ll explain what I mean. Individuals show observable behaviors from three ego states: Parent, Adult, and Child. Social interactions between people are healthy and normal when the participants’ ego states are aligned. Transactional Analysis is a large topic and while I am utilizing it here, you may want to read more about it. You can find more information here: http://www.ericberne.com/transactional-analysis/
So, my first responsibility is to know what ego state I am in. I also need to recognize what ego state my partner in the conversation is in. With that information, I then align and adjust my ego state to that of my partner so our conversation is healthy.
This is all a bit theoretical. Let us consider this example:
My daughter, Esther, starts a serious conversation with me with the question, “How would you like me to tell you something you might not want to hear?” When she asks this, it signals to me that she is respectful of my emotional needs by not just immediately telling me something bad. And I show her that I respect her emotional needs by being centered and focused on what she is about to say, so that I respond calmly.
In short, if you converse with each other by respecting their emotional needs while portraying your own, your conversations should result in everyone feeling better.