Relationship noun \ri-ˈlā-shən-ˌship\

  • the way in which two or more people or things are connected, or the state of being connected.
  • the way in which two or more people or groups regard and behave towards each other.

Management noun \ˈma-nij-mənt\

  • the act or art of managing: the conducting or supervising of something.


What is it?
Over these last few months, we’ve been exploring the components of Emotional Intelligence (EQ). We’ve looked at Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Awareness of Others and now, in part four, we’ll unpack “Relationship Management”. Travis Bradley (Emotional Intelligence 2.0) describes this component of EQ as the ability to use our awareness of our own emotions and those of others to manage interactions successfully. This ensures clear communication and effective handling of the conflict. It is the bond we build with others over time. It is being able to see the benefit of connecting with many different people, even those we are not so fond of.  Solid relationships are something that should be cherished.  They are the result of how we understand people, how we treat them and the history we share.”


Why does it matter?
Without intentional and proactive attention to the way we interact in relationships, they can often repeatedly default to misunderstanding, unresolved conflicts, tension, manipulation, frustration, and anger. ‘Relationship’ is the way we honor one another and, ultimately, the way we live out our faith as we love one another the way Christ loves us.

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What can we do about it?
When we turn our focus toward improving our relationships, if we are honest, we will have to start with an authentic examination of ourselves. The first three articles in this series on EQ will provide a great starting place for this self-reflection. Then when we are ready to take it to the next level, there is good news: while we can’t control or guarantee what happens in our relationships we CAN be intentional and proactive about our contribution to the relationship. It’s true that relationships require commitment and often, hard work. But it’s much harder to live in this world without relationships and we are created to be in them, so here are some ideas for us to consider.

  • Be Open – Being open means sharing information about our self with others. We can use our self-management skills to choose how open we are and what we share, but there’s a benefit to opening up. It reveals our humanity and builds understanding.
  • Be Curious – We also need to be interested in the other person’s story as well. We can be more intentional about listening and asking questions to draw out the other person’s perspective. (Bradberry)
  • Remember the Little Things That Pack a Punch – In both personal and work-related relationships, there are far too few ‘please’s’, ‘thank-you’s’, and ‘I’m sorry’s’ being expressed, yet most people will agree that hearing these simple expressions of consideration can have a significant positive impact on morale. (Bradberry)
  • Take Feedback Well – Using your Self-Awareness skills, we can pay attention to the way we receive feedback from others. Resist self-defense, ask questions for clarification, express gratitude for the feedback and allow ourselves time to consider what has been shared. Whether we agree or not with the content of the feedback, doing this takes a lot of grace and vulnerability, and can go a long way in building a relationship. (Bradberry)
  • Build Trust – Review the “Braving Trust” article series to explore what we can do to build trust in our relationships: Boundaries, Reliable, Accountable, Vault, Integrity, Non-Judgment, Generous Interpretations.
  • Manage Anger – Mismanaged anger can cause irreparable damage to relationships. Anger is usually a secondary emotion, or defense mechanism, to avoid confronting our fear or pain. We can take steps toward managing our anger when we first identify the fear or pain point, be compassionate with ourselves, and then using our self-management skills, proceed with authenticity. In an emergency, “Count to Ten and Take a Deep Breath” remains a classic and effective strategy.
  • Make Quick Repairs – In a broken conversation, we can take a step back and offer an attempt at repair. This means letting go of blame or defense, and instead focusing on the immediate repair. It may mean letting go of being right in order to reach a resolution. (Bradberry)
  • Tackle a Tough Conversation – Tough conversations are inevitable; at some point or another we’ll be confronted with them, so it’s better to enter them intentionally and with awareness. Bradberry offers these steps:
    • Start with agreement
    • Ask the person to help you understand his or her perspective.
    • Resist the urge to plan a ‘comeback’ or rebuttal.
    • Help the other person understand your perspective too.
    • Move the conversation forward – focus on solution
    • Follow-up appropriately
  • Practice Forgiveness – Un-forgiveness is a barrier to the relationship. Sometimes we need to just lay aside our pride and let Christ carry us to a place of forgiveness. Forgiveness is usually a journey, not a destination. Taking the first step can go a long way toward healing a broken relationship.


Bradberry, Travis. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego: Talent Smart

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Writer:  Cindy Schmelzenbach