Saturday, October 19, 2013

Emotional Intelligence - Learning to Argue

I don’t remember the exact topic of the discussion, other than it had to do with what I thought we should do about a particular problem with a particular tenant.  I gave my opinion.  My husband raised his voice and told me in no uncertain terms how wrong I was.  I shut up.

   “How come you’re not talking?” 

   “Because every time I say something that disagrees with you, you shove it down my throat,” I blurted with less emotional intelligence than I am capable of.

   “Get a backbone!  I need you to argue with me.”

I wasn't expecting that.  He went on to tell me that by debating the issues we would come to the best conclusion, and that he really did value my opinion.  Arguing, to him, wasn't personal – it was about hashing out options and coming to the best one.

I am really uncomfortable with conflict.  Per my StrenthsFinder profile – Harmony (an opposite of conflict) is my second strongest characteristic.  Glad to know somebody considers it a strength.  In the world of emotional intelligence, however, the use of conflict is a skill I need to learn.  Specifically, I need to learn how to debate with my husband and stay focused on the issues – even when his tone becomes heated, or worse, condescending.  I need to learn that just because a concern is personal to my husband; it isn't a reflection on me.  I need to learn to allow him to be emotional without taking it personally.

Help can be found in the Emotional Intelligence Quick Book.  One of the key premises of emotional intelligence, per authors Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, is that unlike IQ or personality, emotional intelligence can be learned and enhanced.  Here are the key take-aways I gleaned from re-reading Chapter 6 – Building Your Skills.

1.  Lean into the discomfort.  “The biggest obstacle to increased personal competence is the tendency to avoid the discomfort that comes from increasing your self-awareness…Leaning into your discomfort is the only way to change.”

2.  Don’t be afraid to make emotional mistakes.  “They tell you what you should be doing differently…Personal development requires making many mistakes even though it is uncomfortable to recognize them when we make them.”

3.  Manage your own emotional tendencies.  Learn to recognize your own emotions in uncomfortable situations and deal with them constructively.  When all else fails – take a deep breath, slow down, and think for a moment.

Practice makes perfect, and in this imperfect world it looks like I’ll have many opportunities to practice.

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