Emotionally intelligent people seek to support other people.
Sounds altruistic, doesn’t it? Well, it can be. But it can also be strategic — even shrewd.
Because people are concerned about what affects them. They might be kind, decent, noble — even selfless. They’re still human beings, and they will react to the way things affect them, personally.
So, if you want to engage with people effectively, think about whether your words and actions are offered in a way that seems to support them, or that seems to support yourself. The more it’s the former over the latter, the better they’ll feel about you, even if they don’t realize it.
Example: Suppose you’re desperate to sell your house. A young couple comes to look at it, beautiful children in tow.
“You have such a beautiful family,” you say to them. “You’re exactly the type of people I would feel proud to help have this house. I would love to find a way to make that happen.”
Everything you said might be true–but you smartly leave out the part about being desperate to sell. That wouldn’t be supportive; it would shift the focus to what you need, as opposed to what you can do for them.
It wouldn’t be as effective, and it wouldn’t be as emotionally intelligent.
2. They watch their language.
I don’t mean that they don’t use curse words. They might.
But emotionally intelligent people learn to be very intentional in their word choices and reactions.
I say this because there are word choices that people with low emotional intelligence make all the time, and that betray them–subtle cues that let the other person in a conversation know that you think your needs are more important than theirs.
Want a quick example? Emotionally intelligent people never say “I know how you feel.”
Because you can almost never, really, 100 percent know what someone else feels. You can try to, and you can repeat people’s words back to them, mirroring their feelings. But it’s a very rare circumstance when you can truly understand another person’s experience.
We know this intuitively. But some of us say it anyway.
Emotionally intelligent people learn that it sometimes doesn’t matter what they mean to say. Instead, it matters more what the person they’re talking with hears and understands.
That’s why they keep track of their language patterns. They improve the odds that the message they hope to get across will be received as they intend.