Emotional intelligence (EQ) plays a major part in negotiation. A lack of EQ can shatter conversations and even relationships, but enough EQ does the opposite. It takes the conversation and the relationship to another level, so I believe that every parent should strive to strengthen their emotional intelligence.
EQ is your ability to identify, understand, and regulate emotions, and that is split into two categories: your emotions and others’ emotions. Despite being under the EQ umbrella, personal EQ and interpersonal EQ are two vastly different things with very different techniques.
Below is an accessible first step to building both types of EQ without the risk of shattering the conversation.
“Negotiate” with your Significant Other
Simply start practice-negotiating with your significant other. Have your significant other act as your child and ask something from you, and then switch roles. Both of you should know that this is only practice, and anything said should not be taken to heart.
Portraying your child allows you to build your interpersonal EQ and empathy. You are “putting yourself in their shoes” for the sake of a practice scenario, and that accustoms you to put yourself in their shoes for a real conversation. Understanding where the other side coming from allows you to know when to walk away or find solutions for their emotions.
Practice sessions are perfect empathy stimulators for when a real situation appears. When you know that a hard conversation needs to be had in the near future, preparation can start with just one good practice session. You’ll gain an idea of what your child could possibly be feeling, which shows that you care and gives you the winning cards.
Let Your Child Learn from You
As a parent, it is your duty to be responsible for your child’s education. I like to think that children are like a sponge: they are very easily shaped; their actions and thoughts are formed by the external environment they are subjected to. Their behavior is affected by the people they spend the most time with, especially by their nuclear family, since their parents are their reference and inspiration. They also absorb most of the knowledge they are exposed to because of the ability to learn quickly at a young age. For instance, they are capable of learning many languages at the same time without as much difficulty as an adult doing the same thing.
Therefore, all parents must have emotional responsibility towards their children. As a parent, your behavior, emotions, and techniques have the capacity to influence and shape your children, for better or for worse. When in a negotiation, be mindful of your own emotions; if your child is yelling at you, you should not yell back, since that is only going to trigger more anger and misunderstanding. You should keep in mind that you are trying to solve the problem, not cause more. These are the times you can use this situation in your advantage to practice your self-regulation abilities to stay calm.
Utilize Time to Your Advantage
In the case that a negotiation – synthetic or real - doesn’t go right, you have the freedom to ask for a break.
Practice negotiations do not have any real time-constraints, and that allows you to time-out and collaboratively figure out what went wrong, what to do next or to fix something. It is a luxury that real negotiations don’t allow so easily, and it should be done when you’re completely stuck.
However, coming back another time in real negotiations have consequences. Although it allows emotions to cool down, what’s important is that you reconcile by emphasizing how they feel about the previous negotiation. Connect the past to the present, apologize for any assertive maneuvers in the last conversation, and create a positive vision toward the future.
What’s Stopping You from Trying?
No matter what happens, practicing Emotional Intelligence is necessary for growth in your ability to communicate. One of the simplest things you can do right now is practice with a person you’re comfortable with —spouse, friend, own parents, etc. — to prepare to have difficult conversations with your own kin. It’s a simple exercise that allows you to reap the benefits of controlling your own emotions and recognizing others’.
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