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Here Are 7 Ways to Respond to Conflict with Emotional Intelligence

Some are blissfully unaware of the negative impact that they have on those around them, and others seem to derive satisfaction from creating chaos and pushing other people’s buttons. Either way, they create unnecessary complexity, strife and worst of all stress.

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Here are seven ways you can exercise emotional intelligence to effectively handle those difficult people under tough circumstances, as compiled by Inc Magazine.

Get perspective.

Emotional intelligent people use self-awareness to their advantage to assess a situation, get perspective, listen without judgment, process, and hold back from reacting head on. At times, it means the decision to sit on your decision. By thinking over your situation rationally, without drama, you’ll eventually arrive at other, more sane conclusions.

Take a six-second pause.

But to tap into that kind of perspective I discussed above requires a pause — a six second pause — to gather your thoughts before you speak. Why six seconds? The chemicals of emotion inside our brains and bodies usually last about six seconds. During a heated exchange, if we can pause for a short moment, the flood of chemicals being produced slows down. When you are frustrated or upset, before you say something harsh, this precious pause helps you to quickly assess the costs and benefits of that, and other, action. Applying this consequential thinking in the moment helps you to make more careful choices.

Stay humble.

First of all, avoid being triggered and reacting with sarcasm or a negative comeback, which is the sure path to conflict and escalating drama. Yeah, your ego may be bruised, so acknowledge it, rather than stomping on the warpath to revenge. The higher road to take here comes from humility — drawing from your inner strength, seeing the other person as a flawed human being (just like you), extending compassion, and trusting in the moment to a different, better, outcome.

Try empathy.

A person exhibiting emotional intelligence will look at the whole picture and both sides of an issue. It’s having the ability to tap into someone else’s feelings (as well as your own) to consider a different outcome. That takes empathy. Daniel Goleman, the emotional intelligence guru said,

“If you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.”

Ask the most conflict-diffusing question: Are you OK?

The next time someone flies off the handle on you, here’s a way to positively blow that person away with your response. Try asking, “Are you OK? What’s going on?” Then, simply listen. What comes next may surprise you. You will most likely open up the door for the other person to explain the issue behind the issue — why they really feel the way they do. Now you have arrived at an opportunity for further dialogue to problem solve and come to terms with an agreeable solution.

Speak from your authentic self.

Emotionally-intelligent people are radically intentional about staying connected with their true selves every day, and especially in relationship to others. They speak from the heart — clearly, honestly, and intentionally — and don’t hide behind masks. In an emotionally-charged situation, they’ll be the first to take the blame if they’ve made a mistake. They model integrity and authenticity for others, making it safe for peers and co-workers who’ve also made mistakes to risk being open enough to say, “I messed up.”

Be the first to reach out after conflict.

So conflict happened and it’s now in the past. However, the tendency for so many of us is to let resentment fester after an argument or misunderstanding, and then cut off the person from our lives until he or she reaches out to us with an apology. It’s convenient. But it’s also just plain dumb. A person with high EQ doesn’t let her ego have its way at the expense of losing a friendship, a family relationship, or great work connection. Since social skills is one of the four “best features” of emotional intelligence, a person running on all EQ cylinders will be the first to reach out to make amends, even if it means apologizing first. That humble and courageous act will do wonders; the other person will soften, apologize too, and allow you back into his or her life.

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