It takes profound insight and understanding to ride the waves of life with perspective and resilience. When you exercise emotional intelligence, you are equipped to perceive, use and manage your emotions with a clear and focused mind. You will also be able to influence the emotions of others in a positive way.
Ideally, you want to settle into a state of equanimity before you enter into a difficult or challenging conversation. Equanimity refers to an internal state of calm and composure that is sustained even when the stakes are high, and emotions are heightened. The development of equanimity does not occur overnight, and it is much easier for some people to maintain composure than it is for others. A key aspect of equanimity is to purposely and thoughtfully sustain emotions that are most useful, such as maintaining the same emotion throughout a conversation. The goal of equanimity is not to be detached or impassive -- the goal is to gain creative control over your emotional responses.
To achieve this state of inner calm, the following four emotional management techniques will help to shift the emotions of others during high-stakes and often heated conversations with the goal of alignment. When these four actionable practices are used together, you will be well on your way to forming more collaborative partnerships and better resolutions.
1. Enhance and maintain self-regard.
The purpose of this practice is to affirm and retain a sense of dignity of the person (or group of people) involved in the conversation. It requires sincere gratitude and a demonstration of respect for the other person's time, attention, beliefs, and feelings. For example, to maintain self-regard of the other person when they doubt themselves or when they are experiencing a challenging situation, you may wish to enhance their self-regard by offering authentic, positive statements when they have accomplished something -- or when it's important for them to recognize their value.
2. Active and mindful listening.
Mindful listening means waiting for the person to finish each thought completely, and to offer verbal and non-verbal cues that indicate you are actively listening, such as nodding your head and eye contact. The goal is dedicated, fully present, and single-minded concentration while the other person is speaking to convey your full attention and so that the other person feels that they have been heard.
3. Empathetic responding.
This requires expressions of genuine understanding of how another person is feeling and reflecting that back to them. Resist the urge to jump in and propose a solution to a problem or issue, or offering strong opinions.
4. Invite participation.
Direct and encouraging verbal invitations for the other person to respond, and welcoming their ideas, perspectives, and feedback throughout the conversation is vital for an aligned outcome. Don't demand or make decisions of your own accord; you have to invite the person to actively participate in the discussion as well as the resolution.