Strategy #4 Emotional Intelligence

Have you ever been a recipient of a highly charged, negative, emotional message? It is not only difficult to respond to such a message in a way that will satisfy the person who has sent it but it is also difficult to avoid responding with a highly charged, negative emotion without having some special communication skills.

When a highly charged, negative, emotional message is filled with anger and is expressed disrespectfully how do respond?

We are approaching the time of year when you will most likely have a chance to experience these type of messages due to the seasonal, overwhelming activities like shopping, wrapping, baking and parties. So, let’s prepare and prevent the negative impact that they can have on this season.

A highly charged, negative, emotional message may sound something like, “All you do is stay on your phone and computer! The kitchen is full of dirty dishes and the trash hasn’t been taken out all week! I haven’t had time to do laundry so I don’t have anything to wear to your work party so you will have to go by yourself!”

Had this person known how to use strategy #3 from last week they would have communicated something that sounded more like, “I need your help when you get off of your phone (or computer). The dishes need to be put into the dishwasher and the trash taken out. I need to do some laundry so that I have a clean dress to wear to your work party this evening.”

But, because this message sender didn’t have the appropriate skills to communicate calmly and respectfully you will be able to restore a calm atmosphere if you respond by using Emotional Intelligence, strategy # 4.

That would sound something like, “It sounds like you are overwhelmed. I would be overwhelmed too if I had to have taken care of everything you have been doing. I’ll be happy to help.”

If you were on the receiving end of this type of response would it calm you down? It would me. Most of us, however, lack the necessary skills to respond this way. Instead, we respond out of an offended heart and mirror the same negative emotions that were expressed through the message sent to us.

Such a response would sound something like, “I just got home from work and needed to catch up on some necessary business! I have picked up your slack all week because you have been out every night shopping with your friends and now you can’t go to my party! That’s just great, I’ll go alone!”

Without appropriate communication skills we tend to hurt the very ones we love and destroy our own images. Without knowledge and wisdom life can be filled with painful memories that could have, would have, should have been sweet.

So, let’s make some sweet memories during this Christmas season by being intelligent about emotions. Use the following three steps to respond to all of the highly charged, negative, emotional messages that come your way.

1.) Label the emotion (It sounds like you are overwhelmed.)

2.) Empathize; walk in their shoes. (I would be overwhelmed too if I had to have taken care of everything you have been doing.)

3.) Direct; communicate what can be done. (I’ll be happy to help.)


What you do not want to do, however, is Direct before you have Labeled the emotion or Empathized with them. The person who originally sent the highly charged, negative, emotional message needs to feel heard and those first two steps will do that for them.

Merry Christmas! Happy Memories!


Dr. Terry,


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