Higher Education Innovation In Action

It’s All about Relationships – Relationships 202: My BIGGEST Takeaway: Emotional Intelligence

Natalie Spooner, Sales Consultant Jul 11, 2017

Relationships 101: Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills
Relationships 102: Trust and Respect
Relationships 201: Cohesive Words & Actions

Throughout this “course,” I set out to explore the importance of relationships. When I first suggested this series, I knew positive relationships were important, but I hadn’t given much thought as to why… Furthermore, I hadn’t thought too much about what makes a relationship flourish, or flop... I learned quite a bit about myself and others while undergoing this assignment, but I have to say my biggest takeaway, and an ever-present theme throughout my posts, was the importance of being able to recognize emotion – both my own emotions as well as others’.  

In this final post, I’m drawing parallels to what I believe is a common thread – emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence can be hard to define, in fact, psychologists still debate the true definition today. My favorite definition comes from Justin Bariso, who keeps it simple: “Emotional intelligence is the ability to make emotions work for you, instead of against you.”1 What a profound thought… the ability to have a self-awareness compass always nudging you in the direction of self-improvement and growth.

My BIGGEST Takeaway – Emotional Intelligence

Within all of the previous posts (recapped at the end of this post), I recognized that being self-aware is universal. Without self-awareness, how do you recognize soft and hard skills in colleagues? How do you assess whether or not they are trustworthy or respectful, or whether they can communicate effectively? BUT – there’s more to it than that.

Travis Bradberry and Jean Greaves, authors of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, refers to emotional intelligence as “the other kind of smart.”2 They believe emotional intelligence is made up of four skills under two primary competency umbrellas: personal and social competence.

Personal Competence

Personal competence is made up of self-awareness and self-management. At a basic level, self-awareness refers to how you recognize your emotions and stay aware of them, while self-management refers to how you handle your emotions and behave in spite of them. 

Social Competence 

Social competence is made up of social awareness and relationship management. Fundamentally, social awareness refers to your ability to accurately understand other people’s emotions, while relationship management refers to your ability to successfully manage interactions with others based on your understanding of their emotions.

Emotional Intelligence Takeaway

Then I had this realization: my most valued relationships, in and out of the office, are with others who are emotionally intelligent! These pleasant and rewarding relationships display a give and take – both parties recognize emotion, either within themselves or others, and manage actions, even when the emotions may not be pleasant. Bottom line – both parties adapt and accommodate!

Relationship Review

Following is a recap of the first three posts in the series, which traces their common thread: emotional intelligence.

Relationships 101 – Soft & Hard Skills

In my first post, I read and wrote about soft and hard skills. It became clear, no matter how skilled your area of expertise, having the people skills alongside the knowledge, is the full package. Being able to interact effectively with others is often possible due to emotional intelligence, which most certainly shapes your relationships.

Relationships 102 – Trust & Respect

While researching the first post, trust and respect became clear front-runners in valued relationships, so I focused on these competencies in my second post. Trust and respect are hallmarks of healthy relationships, and if either is lacking, the relationship most certainly suffers.  

Relationships 201 – Cohesive Communication

While writing my second post, I discovered another relationship essential – cohesive communication. Relationships thrive when actions match verbal commitments. Effective communication, both with words and actions, demonstrate your emotional awareness. 

Instead of being at the mercy of the emotional stressors of the day, recognize and acknowledge your own emotions to better control your actions. Attune yourself to how others around you are feeling in an effort to improve your connections and relationships. Through practice, and patience, you can tap into your emotional intelligence and hone in on traits like flexibility, accountability, trust, anger management, communication, and stress.

1 Inc. (2017). What Is Emotional Intelligence, Exactly? Here’s the Entire Concept, Summed up in 1 Sentence. Retrieved from

2 Bradberry, T. Greaves, J. (2009). Emotional Intelligence 2.0. San Diego, CA: TalentSmart Publishers.