Healthy emotions make healthy relationships. Yet, dealing with people takes a special form of intelligence called ’emotional intelligence.’ The more balanced a person’s emotions are, the healthier will be their relationships. Here’s a quiz for you to learn how to have balanced emotions in your relationships.
Your spouse and you are having a major argument and it has escalated into a screaming match. Both of you have reached a point where you are launching personal attacks on each other that you don’t mean. What’s the best way to deal with the situation?
A. Take a 20-minute break and then continue with the discussion
B. Just stop the argument at your end. Keep silent no matter what your partner says
C. Say you are sorry and ask your partner to apologise as well
D. Stop for a moment: Collect your thoughts, then state your point of view as clearly as you
You are home after a long day at work, and it has been a particularly tiring month — you’ve had to work late hours and most Sundays. You are conveying some important information about tomorrow’s meeting to your colleague over the phone, and just then your mother comes home, and immediately berates you for leaving your things scattered everywhere. You put your hand on the phone mouthpiece and gesture at her to stop nagging you. She reacts by walking out of the room and not speaking to you the next day. What do you do?
A. Realise she will start speaking to you sooner or later. So, let matters be. It was a small incident, and happened in a moment of fatigue and anger
B. Being your mother she needs to understand your work pressures, and its kiddish of her to sulk. You decide to confront her and tell her the same
C. Decide that the fault was not yours. You were justified in your action because you were tired and pressurised. She’s your mother, and she should be the one to understand. You wait for her to come to you and comfort you
D. You are annoyed that your mother should behave childishly, but distance yourself from the scene and spend some time thinking about what happened. Admit that the fault lay with both you and your mother, so you talk to her about how you felt and encourage her to do the same
You come home after a hectic week-long product promotion tour. All you want to do is bathe, eat and relax. But the moment you enter the house, your 10-year-old child comes running towards you with her book and asks you to help her with her homework. Your reaction:
A. Yell at the kid to leave you alone as you are tired
B. Ask your child to go to your spouse for help; after all, he/she hasn’t been travelling all week
C. Tell your child to wait while you bathe and eat something. But promise to help him/her after that and do so
D. Tell him/her that he/she needs to learn to solve his/her own problems, and that he/she old is enough to do his/her homework herself without help
You are trying to calm down a friend. She is extremely enraged and hurling abuses at the driver, who almost banged into her car and then sped away. What do you do?
A. Tell her to forget it, no one was hurt, nothing major happened, so it’s no big deal
B. Try to distract her by getting back to the topic you were discussing before the incident happened
C. To show your support you join her in abusing the other driver yourself
D. Tell her about the time a similar incident happened with you and that you got as enraged as she is now, but then you saw that the other driver was on his way to a hospital
You’ve recently been promoted to a higher level managerial position, and you have plenty of ideas to improve the sales of the products your department deals with. A month later, most of your ideas have not worked out and the sales figures look dismal. You are starting to feel discouraged. What do you do?
A. Decide to fire a majority of the old staff who seem to have no motivation to work and hire new people who can bring in a fresh set of ideas
B. Decide that this new position is not what you are suited for, and ask for a transfer
C. Call a meeting of all the staff working under you and hold a brainstorming session for new ideas
D. Assess all the qualities in yourself that may be keeping you from succeeding at this new position
Your girlfriend and you have been together for six months and she invites you to join her for an office party as she wants to introduce you to her colleagues. At the party, a male colleague of hers keeps dropping her flattering comments. She laughs it off, but doesn’t reprimand him.
A. You wonder about her commitment to the relationship
B. You realise your girlfriend’s actions are healthy, she doesn’t respond to the flirting and yet maintains a civil relationship with the colleague. You complement her on handling this well. But you do tell her that you feel jealous about the male attention
C. Decide you feel uncomfortable, make an excuse and leave the party. Later, you bring up the issue with your girlfriend
D. You feel insecure and don’t know how to handle these feelings.
Your boss invites you into his office and reprimands you over a poorly worded email to a client. He says your communication skills are pathetic and the department is going to look bad because of that email. Your response?
A. Sleep over it before you take any action the following day
B. Hide from the boss as much as possible
C. Try to find a colleague who can sympathise with your story and talk about it
D. Throw in your resignation
Your best friend has the habit of jokingly putting you down in public. At an outing with a group of friends, she makes a remark about your dressing style. What would your response be?
A. Defend your dressing
B. Tell her it doesn’t feel good to be personally criticised in public
C. Avoid her the next time you see her
D. Start crying
Option A: Taking a break of 20 minutes or so is the best. This is because it takes at least that amount of time to bring your body to a neutral level from the state of physiological arousal of anger. During this heightened state of anger, one is more likely to make damaging personal attacks. After taking a break and “cooling down” you are more likely to have a logical, healthier and clear discussion.
Option D would be a healthy way to tackle this predicament. You should realise that not only your mother but you also behaved immaturely. If you were right in assuming that she shouldn’t have disturbed you when you were talking on the phone, then she was right in assuming that you could be more resourceful and help around with the house work. You are showing emotional intelligence by taking the first step in resolving a conflict.
Option C is probably what you need to do now. You are conveying to your child that you are tired, and she needs to accept that. At the same time, you do not deny her your attention and help. As an emotionally intelligent person you’ve thus done the right things: acknowledged to yourself feelings of irritation and fatigue but conveyed them in the right way to your child while still being a supportive parent.
Option D is the best alternative. Studies on anger and managing rage show that the most effective way to help an angry person is to empathise with his feelings and to distract him from the focus of his rage by suggesting a less anger-provoking way of seeing the situation.
Option C would show optimism, which is a mark of emotional intelligence where setbacks are viewed as opportunities one can learn from. Despite challenges one has to move on and try out new approaches rather than giving up, blaming themselves or others.
Option B would help your relationship. Jealousy is actually a healthy emotion. It is usually the result of harmless threat to something you consider precious. If your girlfriend were to flirt back with the guy you would feel both jealousy and anger. And then Option A, C and D would be valid. However, in the above scene, Option B is the best way to move forward. Your girlfriend did not flirt back with the guy. But you felt healthy jealousy and conveyed it to your partner because it also means you find the relationship valuable.
Option A: Research on provocative situations finds that when a person is shamed by an authority figure, they often need a longer cool-down period. So the wisest thing would be to allow your mind to work through the situation. Often when emotions are calmer the brain can see a new aspect to the situation (such as the boss came to work in a bad mood that day, another colleague also found errors in your email). The following day would be the best time to approach your boss and work things out. The other three options (avoiding conflict, gossiping or quitting) may feel good in the short-run, but they do not guarantee that you have learnt conflict resolution skills for the next time you are reprimanded.
Option B is the ideal way to publicly handle a bully. Most people who tease often cross the line into bullying without realising they are doing so. Do remember: most bullies have deep-seated insecurity issues. Bullies are best handled with firmness, assertiveness and a direct response.
This post originally appeared in the Mumbai Mirror.