Men are faced with a unique set of challenges to maintaining healthy, mutually fulfilling and long-lasting relationships – both at work and home – but developing emotional intelligence can help, explains Loganholme Psychologist Abra Garfield …
All too often men are left confused, bewildered and on the couch when a seemingly pleasant night, work-week or month erupts into conflict. Sometimes we just don’t see the signs, read the signals and understand women’s emotional needs clearly, and therefore do not respond until it is too late.
The good news is we can improve our emotional intelligence to better understand and navigate the unspoken emotional language and needs of demanding social environments, so as to better support our partners and co-workers, while still achieving our goals.
What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence refers to the capacity to identify, assess, process and influence emotional states in ourselves and others.
In relationships, it involves showing empathy, processing emotion (rather than avoiding/suppressing), understanding what we are feeling through physical and emotional signals, and communicating and supporting our partners appropriately when in need.
For a man who lacks natural sensitivity to the little things (or simply identifies as a straight forward guy!), emotional intelligence can improve relationship problem solving and the ability to read the subtle communication our partners may be sending, but we may be missing.
Building emotional intelligence may take time and effort but the benefits to our relationships and quality of life can be great.
Our workplace relationships and social networking can also benefit greatly from improving our emotional intelligence, leading to less conflict and better rapport at work. Other areas that emotional intelligence taps into are social intelligence and leadership skills.
Emotional Intelligence at Work
Salovey and Mayer (1989) defined emotional intelligence as a source of information, allowing us to navigate social situations more effectively. Processing emotion effectively in others and ourselves improves our other “executive functions”, such as decision making, problem solving and goal setting – basically it improves our thinking. They described four areas to improve: “The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth.”
- Perceiving: Detect and decipher emotions (self and others). Perceiving emotion is the foundation of emotional intelligence, as it facilitates all other emotion processing.
- Using: Harness emotions to improve other mental activities (thinking/creativity).
- Understanding: Comprehend and appreciate emotional language and complicated relationships among emotions. Building emotional language to understand and label slight variation and changes in emotion is critical to improving communication and regulation.
- Managing: Regulate emotions in ourselves and in others.
Daniel Goleman is a leading pioneer in the use of emotional intelligence to improve social skills, relationships and leadership skills. He describes five factors in his 1998 book, “Working with Emotional Intelligence”:
- Self-awareness: The ability to know one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values and goals – and recognise their impact on others, while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
- Self-regulation: Involves controlling or redirecting one’s disruptive emotions and impulses, and adapting to changing circumstances.
- Social skill: Managing relationships to move people in the desired direction.
- Empathy: Considering other people’s feelings, especially when making decisions.
- Motivation: Being driven to achieve for the sake of achievement.
If you think that emotional intelligence training could improve your relationships with women in both your personal and work life, I invite you to make an appointment with me soon.
Author: Abra Garfield, BPsych, MPsych (sport & exercise), MAPS; Medicare ATAPS provider.
Abra Garfield is an endorsed Sport and Performance Psychologist, with a passion for helping others to achieve optimal performance whether on the sports field, in the classroom, home or office. By drawing on a range of therapeutic techniques including Mindfulness, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Motivational Interviewing, Abra helps many people with goal setting, motivation, and overcoming anxiety.
Abra is the Principal Sport Psychologist and founder of Summit Performance Psychology. Visit the Summit Performance Psychology website to learn more or like us on Facebook to receive Summit Performance Psychology Articles and event updates.
Psychologist Abra Garfield has moved.
Find his details on his website: Summit Sport & Performance Psychology.
- For more, read “Emotional Intelligence – Why it can matter more than IQ” by Daniel Goleman (1995).