People Who Say These 5 Words Have Low Emotional Intelligence
In our attempt to demonstrate empathy to friends, co-workers, family, etc., and in the interest of being emotionally supportive, our innocent, best intentions often have the opposite effect. How we have been trained in our upbringing or what we have manifested through our life experiences can often cause misguided responses in these situations.
The 5 words that demonstrate well meant intentions but often have the opposite effect and should be avoided are:
¨I know how you feel¨
The phrase suggests that you don't truly understand what the other person feels at all. (Really, how could you?) It suggests that you feel the need to turn the conversation toward your experience, not his or hers, and that ultimately you don't really care about that person's concerns after all. (1)
Here are examples of emotionally unintelligent responses and a better emotionally intelligent responses in different scenarios:
1. "My boss doesn't respect me."
Emotionally Unintelligent Response: "I went through the exact same thing last year. I wound up leaving and finding a better job."
Emotionally Intelligent Response: "I'm sorry to hear that. What makes you feel that way?"
2. "If I could just get organized, I'd have the world on a string."
Emotionally Unintelligent Response: "I know--I have the same problem."
Emotionally Intelligent Response: "What do you think stops you from being organized?"
"I'm so sad since my breakup."
Emotionally Unintelligent Response: "You just need to get back out there and start dating again."
Emotionally Intelligent Response: "What do you think stops you from being able to move forward?" (1]
It can be admittedly difficult to find the right words when we are approached by someone in need of emotional support as we want to be very careful to say the right thing. To ease this situation, we should just keep in mind that no two situations are the same and as such every personal experience is in fact unique.
A better approach is not to try to shift the conversation immediately to action and to the future for purposes of problem solving. Instead, first spend time listening and offering a support response.
This shows that you truly care about what the person has to say and that you respect their individual feelings and truly feel compassion toward them and their situation.
(1) Inc. Bill Murphy Jr. June 2018