If asked to describe you, would others use the word relational? Relational people sharpen their emotional intelligence by practicing good relational skills. Here are five things you can do now to expand your skills and improve your relationships.

  1. Get comfortable with emotion. I recently saw a preschooler having an emotional meltdown. Her father was trying very hard to calm her down and said, “You can’t be upset about that!” to which she wailed back – “I can be upset about anything!” Emotions are always in-motion. Relational people recognize that allowing yourself and others to appropriately express what you are feeling is a bonding experience, and helps us move through hard things more quickly.
  2. Give validation. Relational people learn the magic words that provide reassurance, understanding and empathy. They realize that you don’t have to agree with someone to provide words of encouragement. Reflecting back emotions such as, “you seem really upset” will most likely be more helpful than trying to talk them out of their own experience.
  3. Be affirming. Get comfortable with expressing love and affection, and do so often – in good times and bad. Affirming words are reassuring, helping us reconnect after a bad day or a bad haircut. My husband tells me every day that I’m beautiful. Recently he said, “you look great in that dress,” although he was only half awake and I was actually wearing pants. That makes me smile because I never have to wonder if he still finds me attractive, which feels pretty amazing.
  4. Get healthy boundaries. Boundaries are about what you will do, rather than an attempt to control others. Practice healthy boundaries by respecting that we all make our own choices, and we can’t do someone else’s work. “I’m going to move on with my life if you are unwilling to commit to this relationship.” Set the boundary of what you will do in the relationship by refusing to support or enable unhealthy behaviors.
  5. Learn the art of apology. The honest apology is a hallmark of emotional intelligence. There are so many ways to get an apology wrong that few get it right. Stay away from the non-apology such as “I’m sorry you feel that way,” or anything including the word “but.” We all have blind spots. Realizing when you did someone wrong and expressing it in a sincere way is compassionate and endearing.


Please contact Marilyn Witbeck at 770-771-6903, or by email at marilyn@atlrelationshipinstitute.com for more information.