10 Ways to Increase Emotional Intelligence in Your Partnership

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Developing your emotional intelligence (EQ) skills is essential to relational success today.

The idea of emotional intelligence is not new and yet, there seems to be a very little conversation about how to apply it to our partnerships. Our partnerships are our most important relationships. These are the people who are most invested in our success and who success we are most invested in. Here are 10 suggestions for how to increase your emotional intelligence ranging from setting goals to how you speak and listen to staying positive. Practice these 10 ways and you will find your emotional intelligence is not only increased, but you will apply it more wholeheartedly to your partnerships and other relationships.

emotional intelligence

Set Goals

Goal setting is super important in any context. In terms of our partnerships and our emotional intelligence, goal setting is vital. What makes it vital? If we know where it is we want to go, where much more motivated to manage ourselves. Managing ourselves is the basis for Emotional intelligence. It’s grounded in understanding our triggers, learning how to listen, learning how to speak more assertively. When we have a goal that we’re working towards, we have the energy and drive to work through these challenges.

Be a Leader

Once we have a goal, we will be motivated to take the lead in our own lives. When we take the lead in our own life we naturally become leaders in other contexts. Taking the lead in our own life means not only do we have a goal, but we’re going to have a plan for fulfilling it. Not only will we have a plan for fulfilling it, but we’re going to set our intentions for each situation. Not only are we going to set our intentions but we’re going to manage our expectations and learn from our expectations. When we have these elements in line we are now prepared to take the lead in our own lives and to set an example for others. We might even be prepared to take the lead in the lives of others!

Be Receptive

When taking the lead in our own life, we become more approachable by others. We begin to experience other people not only as assets but as opportunities for our own growth. We become more open and receptive to other people. Once we’re open and receptive we have the opportunity to develop our interpersonal skills. Yes, there are sure to be missteps, and these are not failures but more opportunities to learn and grow.

emotional intelligence

Be Self Aware

As we embark on this journey with other people they are the mirror for our souls. This is where we will become more self-aware. We’ll start to notice our own triggers. Triggers are events, words, or places that emotionally drive us from 0 to 60 without many steps in between. As we become more self-aware, we have the opportunity to shift and change our behavior. We may even begin to shift and change ourselves, but the starting point is always our behavior. There’s a saying, it’s not the first thought that’s important, but the second thought. If we act on the second thought or not the first then we’ll show up more in alignment with our intentions in the world.

Manage Your Triggers (Responsive, Not Reactive)

Identifying and managing our triggers is key to this process! I often tell my clients to spend a couple of days journaling or note-taking about people places and things that they find triggering. After a couple of days, they will start to see a pattern. They’ll start to notice that the same kinds of remarks drive them from 0 to 60. The same kinds of experiences. We can short circuit our triggers when we’ve identified them. We can stop being reactive. Eventually, the trigger itself will become meaningless.

Speak From “I” (Assertive)

Ending the blame game is a giant step towards being responsive. When we’re triggered our natural response is to go to blame. Thoughts and remarks like “you’re making me feel “, “What you’re doing is driving me crazy”, reflect blame. In both these sentences, we are giving the other person power to make us feel or drive us. Turning blame statements on their head is the magic trick to taking our personal power back. We can do this through the power of I statements. “I” statements start out with “I” combined with a feeling. Next, we’re going to add a “when”, and then a “because”.

 For example:

I feel (feeling)

When (situation)

Because (your trigger -NOT about them)

When you say things like “that” it makes me so angry”


I feel angry when you say things like “that” because I’m sensitive about “that”.

The trick is to minimize conversation about the other person and take as much personal responsibility as possible. This is self-empowering and actually far more assertive than playing the blame game.

emotional intelligence

Reflective Listening

When we’re triggered it can be difficult to hear what other people are actually saying. Once in a triggered state, we tend to be wearing red rage rose-colored glasses. Just about anything the other person says is taken in a rose or red light. A way to disengage this is to practice reflective listening. Reflective listening is where we look for a feeling and a fact in what the other person is saying. We may need to interrupt the other person to do this if they tend to slam a lot of thoughts together. This can be done in the following manner:

Hold on a second I just want to make sure I got this right, it sounds like what you’re saying is that you feel angry when that is said. Did I get that right?

They may tell us no we got it wrong and we explain it to us. That’s fine, we’re not looking to be right, we’re practicing listening and so we do the exercise over-focusing on the new feeling or the new fact that we were missing. We keep practicing this until the other person feels heard. Resisting the urge to fix the problem is key. We are simply showing that we can listen.

Be Empathetic

When we listen for the other person’s feelings we become more empathetic. We have no choice but to be empathetic. The act of listening for someone else’s feelings is the act of practicing empathy. The act of truly listening and making sure that we understand what the other person is experiencing to the best of our ability is the act of empathy. By practicing empathy we have a deeper connection to the other person. Connection to others demands self-connection.  Trust is a natural outgrowth of empathy, particularly in a partnership.

Receive Criticism

With empathy and trust, we have a baseline for receiving criticism. It is easy to receive criticism when we practice reflective listening. The fact is that I statements and reflective listening use a different part of our brain, are more rational part of our brain. When we are triggered, we are irrational. in a part of our brain that is reactive.  Our rational mind is better suited to receive criticism. Receiving criticism looks like listening, reflecting back on what we heard, and thanking the person for their feedback. Again resist fixing the problem. Simply show that you can receive criticism. Later on in your day, you can work out what to do with the criticism. Don’t delay! Being a leader in our own lives means it’s not only receiving criticism but acting on it.

Stay Positive

How do we stay positive? It sounds so simple but how easy is it really? When we keep our eyes on our goal, and we measure the steps that we’ve taken towards it, it becomes easier to remain positive. Walking in faith that we are moving towards our compelling future that we’re creating for ourselves is the basis for positivity. People become negative when they feel they’re losing in the game of life. We remain positive when we stay focused on a movement towards the goal and when we are content in the moment. 

These 10 basic tools will help you to not only become aware of your latent emotional intelligence but to exercise it and grow it. The more you are aware of your EQ, the more you will exercise it and feel empowered in your life. Personal fulfillment is very much grounded in EQ. We like to think personal fulfillment is about material achievement, in reality, it’s about relational achievement. We can have the biggest car and the most amazing house, but without friends and partners, all of that will seem hollow.