The Interpersonal composite of the EQ-i framework is about Social Intelligence and builds on your Self-Perception and Self-Expression skills. Your internal world and how you express what is going on inside yourself combine to influence the type of interpersonal relationships that you develop. Three competencies here – Interpersonal Relationships, Empathy and Social Responsibility. This post is about Interpersonal Relationships and I will cover Empathy and Social Responsibility next.
What are Interpersonal Relationships?
Do you have a good network of trusted friends? Do you have relationships you can rely on in difficult times? Are you there for your friends when they need support?
Interpersonal Relationships are about your ability to develop and maintain mutually satisfying relationships characterized by trust and compassion. In relationships there is both a “give” and a “take “ and it is necessary to have a balance in order to create deep and durable relationships. If you’re giving more than taking you’ll find yourself emotionally drained and not getting what you need. If on the other hand you take more than you give, others will find themselves taken advantage of. In either case the relationship will not be satisfying.
What It Is Not
Strong Interpersonal Relationships are not about being inappropriately familiar or intimate, nor are they being too free with disclosing personal data. It is not either being co-dependent or unable to be alone.
If You Have It
If you have a good level of Interpersonal Relationships skills you are comfortable in social situations. You read the cues from your social environment, you know what behavior is right for the situation and you are able to develop and nurture relationships that are reciprocal and satisfying.
If You Don’t
If your level of Interpersonal Relationships is on the low side you may prefer spending most of your time alone. You may not be comfortable sharing feelings or with intimacy. Others may see you as socially withdrawn, hard to get to know, or rather cold.
Good and supportive relationships have great benefits. Having a good network of trusted relationships is a major stress reliever. It is enjoyable to share your happiness with good friends and it is soothing to be able to turn to trusted friends in times of distress.
Here is an exercise that you can do if you want to work on developing your Interpersonal Relationships skills.
Take one or two aspects that contribute to the quality of a personal relationship that you already have with a close friend or a family member for example. Experiment by applying these behaviors to another relationship that is not as close but that you would like to develop such as a more distant friend or a colleague. For example deep listening, a personal disclosure, shared experiences, a warm smile are all relationship building behaviors that you are probably using with your small inner circle. Deliberately applying these behaviors outside of your inner circle with help you expand it and grow your relationships.
Repeat these behaviors a few times a watch the new relationship grow. How has the other person’s behavior changed in response to your behavior? How has your perception of the relationship changed?