Know when to offer empathy and sympathy

Assist a partner in recognising when to offer cognitive empathy and sympathy. Remind them that when a person shows they are upset, the focus needs to remain on that person until they feel understood.

That means fully listening to the person and only providing an opinion or advice when they ask for it.

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Due to the partner's hardships accessing empathy, he or she could consider incorporating cognitive empathy.

Intellectualisation, a defence mechanism, may allow the person to think logically about another person's experience and analytically show this understanding. Although not ideal, it can communicate a basic understanding of someone's experience.

Feeling pity for someone is doable for an emotionally shortsighted partner. However, the partner needs to avoid the temptation to save and rescue. For example, "I'm sorry your dog died. I bought you a puppy so that you can feel better. You'll thank me later."

It is better to sympathise and encourage instead. "I am sorry your dog died. I feel bad for you. I hope you feel better tomorrow." It may sound hollows, but it provides support.

The emotionally unavailable person

People often find themselves involved with an emotionally unavailable person at some point. The person with deficits in emotional intelligence turn things around on others, avoid taking personal responsibility, and defends their position at all cost.

A person who cannot sustain closeness in a relationship often mistake control for closeness, inflicts guilt and makes unfair accusations to manage the other person.

A person who possesses emotional intelligence regularly shows empathy, self-awareness and social awareness.

  • Empathy - the ability to understand another person's experience from their perspective.
  • Self-awareness requires a person to self-reflect, gain insight, and own up to selfish moments.
  • Social awareness is the ability to be emotionally attuned to others and really understanding a person.

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Use assertive communication

Assertive communication allows us to take responsibility for ourselves and our actions without judging or blaming other people.

Emotionally intelligent people know how to communicate their opinions and needs in a direct way while still respecting others.

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Emotional Intelligence (EI)

EI means the mastery of emotional competencies. 

That includes self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management.

Self-awareness

To become self-aware, you must be capable of monitoring your own emotions, recognizing different emotional reactions, and then correctly identifying each particular emotion. Self-aware individuals also recognize the relationships between the things they feel and how they behave.

How to improve self-awareness:

  • Ask for constructive feedback
  • Keep a journal
  • Learn new skills
  • Meditate
  • Pay attention to your thoughts and emotions
  • Pursue your passions
  • Practice mindfulness
  • Reflect on your experiences
  • Set goals
  • Use positive self-talk
  • Work on building a growth mindset


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