Developing emotional integrity is about learning to master emotional regulation and a good place to start is with communication skills and developing the ability to communicate in a far more effective manner than you ever thought possible. This will be a massive help in all areas of your life and it will take your interpersonal relationships to a whole new level.
In part, emotional integrity is all about being true to you and recognizing we are creatures driven by emotions and feelings and then finding appropriate ways to give full expression to those emotions and feelings. Proper communication is a huge part of that. Coming from a place of response instead of a place of reaction is the beginning.
As an example, we are creatures of habit so if we have always been frightened by a loud, shouting and clearly angry voice it may now, in later life trigger a flight response. This can lead to us wanting to avoid any type of confrontation or indeed any risk of confrontation. What does this do to our communication skills? Well for starters it means that if we perceive a risk we may well seek to avoid communication or come back defensively in ways that brutalize the person who is triggering the fear feelings. This can accelerate or worsen the problem as it is left unresolved and as such, we are the ones who are creating a vicious circle. All the time, all we have really wanted to do is avoid the unavoidable!
When you look at this situation from the outside in, then you can see, by avoidance you are actually creating the very thing you wanted to avoid and becoming defensive or antagonistic is creating more of what you were attempting to avoid. The same is true if you automatically get angry when someone else shows you anger, in fact any ingrained pattern can cause any of us to simply go through a reaction. This is ineffective, the reverse of this is to instead acknowledge that we have emotions and we can communicate while acknowledging the emotional part without being a slave to it or a victim to it.
So how do you do this? How can we communicate with emotional integrity? Simple just follow these simple steps:
- Listen and think about an honest reply. Don’t just jump to a conclusion or hit auto reply verbally. Listen to what is being said, what you are being asked, think and reply. Do not go for the typical knee jerk reaction. Instead pause and think, then speak.
- You have feelings but so do other people, when you listen to what people are saying, really listen, you can determine the emotion within the content of the words, you can even reflect it back to them to clarify. By asking and using reflection, you can get even more clarity.
- If you are the one having content reflected back to you, again, listen and clarify if your message is not getting through in quite the right way. Clarification is an explanation and not always about a battle. Patience will help you hear and be heard.
- Stay focused on the now, communication is about what is happening now, past history will just cloud the issues and again can trigger outdated responses that are just reactions. Don’t get trapped into blame, this is effective communication we are pursuing, not point scoring.
- Don’t leave until there is some form of closure – ending a conversation with an exit is point scoring and the ultimate last word, it does not work so don’t do it.
Try those easy steps and you will be well on the way to developing your emotional integrity and communication will be easier, all it takes is an open mind and a little bit of practice.