Relationship Management

Relationship management, the fourth pillar of emotional intelligence, is a person’s ability to manage and maintain healthy relationships. Just as the ability to self-regulate grows from self-awareness, relationship management is an active extension of empathy.
If you want to run a successful business, you have to proactively work to maintain positive relationships and establish trust with both subordinates and peers. Good working relationships create confident, happy employees. And confident happy employees are more productive employees. Forbes contributor Victor Lipmanwrites,
… trust is a fragile commodity in management, yet an exceedingly valuable one. It can make all the difference between an employee who is emotionally committed to an organization – engaged – and highly productive, and one who is disengaged or even destructive.
Careful relationship management cultivates emotionally engaged employees and may even help to prevent workplace burnout.
So, how exactly does one build and maintain positive workplace relationships?
Like any relationship, you’ll need to set aside some time to actually get to know an employee. This is the time to practice active listening so that you can understand who this person is and what the workplace looks like from their perspective.
The next step is crucial – validate and respect their experience. Karyn Hall Ph.D. of Psychology Today describes validation as:
…the recognition and acceptance of another person’s thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors as understandable.
Even though some people deny it, everyone craves validation. And here’s why – validating someone’s experience makes that person feel accepted. And acceptance is a fundamental human need. On Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, our need to be accepted and belong is superseded only by our need for safety and biological
demands like food and water.
Making your employees feel understood and accepted is a powerful bonding tool.
Finally, use this newfound understanding of your employees to assign tasks that play to their strengths. Katherine Prendergast of the Association for Talent Development recommends:
Motivate others by recognizing what is important to them and giving them the opportunity to work in those areas. Use their strengths and honor their gifts.
Finding tasks that naturally play to an employee’s strengths will make them feel confident and appreciated while reassuring you that someone well-suited is handling the task. Everybody wins.
How to Practice Relationship Management:
• Set aside time to grow relationships.
• Validate your co-workers’ experience and point of view.
• Assign tasks that play to your co-workers’ strengths.
• Ultimately, emotional intelligence is at the heart of highly collaborative teams. Emotional Intelligence at Work, an organization specializing in business performance and transformation suggests:
• There is only one area which a business—or any organisation—needs to address if it wants to lift itself from averagely successful to excellent: how well the people in the business work together.
• The emotional intelligence you bring to bear in your daily work interactions makes all the difference between success and failure. Ashley Zahabian, public speaker and emotional intelligence advocate, reflects:
• Statistics from Harvard, Stanford, and Carnegie Foundation show that 85–87% of our success accounts from soft skills, emotional intelligence, and personal skills, yet we only pay attention to them 10% of the time… It was so backwards to me.
• Zahabian continues:
• As a founder or entrepreneur, it’s important to learn more about your own emotional intelligence and work to increase it. Think about why you want the things you want and whether or not they’ll be good for you or your business in the long run.
• Some people have a high degree of emotional intelligence while others do not. The good news is that anyone can improve their emotional intelligence if they are motivated to do so.
• You can start by learning more about your EQ strengths and weaknesses with this Emotional Intelligence Assessment from the Global Leadership Foundation. Then take action to improve your weakest EQ skills.
So there you have it. You can improve each of the four pillars of emotional intelligence through the following actions:
1. Cultivate Self-Awareness By…
• Developing a daily self-reflection practice.
• Asking peers for feedback about your blind spots.
• Preparing to face some uncomfortable truths.
2. Develop Self-Regulation By…
• Acting in accordance with your deepest values.
• Practicing daily meditation.
• Doing tasks you don’t enjoy daily to strengthen willpower.
• Asking a buddy to hold you accountable for your goals.
• Strengthening self-regulatory “muscles” by visualizing success.
3. Embrace Empathy By…
• Practicing active listening.
• Habitually looking at the world from a different perspective.
4. Practice Relationship Management By…
• Setting aside time to grow relationships.
• Validating your co-workers’ experience and point of view.
• Assigning tasks that play to your co-workers’ strengths.
Become the leader you aspire to be by following the tips we’ve discussed here. Ignore these tips and you’ll quickly find yourself facing bickering teams and a poor company culture.

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