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Using Emotional Intelligence to Resolve Conflicts and Build Stronger Relationships

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Conflict can make us feel powerless, demoralized, hurt, resentful, frightened—even humiliated. It can reduce morale, performance and productivity. That said, conflict is a normal part of life and work. People don’t always agree—and that’s okay.

What’s important is to learn how to diffuse disagreements and strengthen bonds. Emotional intelligence—the ability to recognize and control our feelings—is the key to accomplishing this.  Understanding our emotions and those of others allows us to react constructively and with empathy, no matter how tense the situation.

Take a look at some effective ways to handle conflict and improve trust using emotional awareness:

  • Remain calm, in control and courteous, even if other party is agitated, angry or withdrawn. Respecting the other person will often help you resolve a situation more quickly and easily.
  • Make resolving the conflict your chief priority. Don’t ever feel you must “win” or prove that you are “right.” Strive for compromise and a win-win outcome.
  • Pay attention to the body language—the facial expressions, posture, gestures, tone of voice—of the other person, as well as what they say, in order to recognize what they’re really trying to express. This will allow you to respond in a way that builds trust, and get to the root of a problem.
  • Try to look at the situation from the other person’s point of view. Recognize that their point of view may be justified (or at least understandable) based on the facts or based on a different experience leading into the situation. 
  • Refrain from passing judgment, even if you believe the other person to be in the wrong. Communicate your point of view without threatening or punishing. A willingness to hear the other person’s side of the story will help enormously in resolving a problem.
  • Acknowledge the other person’s feelings (“I understand that this situation is stressful for you.”) Everyone needs to feel heard and understood. Acknowledgment will help diffuse tension and heighten your control over a situation.

Everyone can increase their emotional intelligence by developing a greater awareness of their own feelings. This understanding will open a door to recognizing the feelings of others—which helps resolve conflict and improve our relationships!

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