How many times have you been sitting at a café or restaurant and overhead a couple at the next table in deep, intimate discussion about their relationship? It’s not that uncommon, right? Couples have disagreements sometimes – it’s natural. Why not in a café – a nice, safe, neutral environment? The question, I think, isn’t IF a couple will have differences, or even WHEN – the real question is HOW they go about doing it.

Consider, for example, couple #1, sitting to the left of you, perhaps. As you arch your neck/ear in their direction (you Nosy Nelly!), what do you hear? Well, for one thing, they don’t seem to be listening to each other. Jim interrupts Mary; Mary horns in with her own opinion. It’s as if neither person is really hearing the words coming out of their partner’s mouth. As the conversation ends, both people leave frustrated and unsure how to proceed.

Now meet couple #2, sitting off to your right. What do observe about this duo? Hmm, Steve and Lydia really seem to be listening to each other and trying to understand the others’ point of view. From the expressions on their faces, both members of the couple seem to be displaying deep empathy for the other person. Rather than running their own needs, both Steve and Lydia are seeking to agree on a best, mutual course for going forward. Instead of trying to win the other person over, they are both talking about what’s best for the relationship. As the conversation winds down, Steve and Lydia agree to talk later – to mull things over and to take steps to incorporate both of their thoughts and ideas to create a workable solution where each of them are happy.

What a difference, huh?!!

Couple number one is caught up in “catabolic” energy. That means their relationship is expressing itself in a negative, limited, and contracting manner. Jim and Mary are focusing on problems, on winning and losing, on what’s wrong with things. Couple number two, by contrast, is characterized by “anabolic” energy. That means Steve and Lydia possess a high degree of positive, limitless, and expanding energy. During their conversation, you can hear them focusing on solutions, on working and winning together, on discovering and emphasizing what’s right about things.

Navigating relationships isn’t for the squeamish. It’s high-wire work, often with no net in sight. What allows couples (and everyone in relationship) to survive and, indeed, thrive is the development of Emotional Intelligence, sometimes called EI or EQ. Emotional Intelligence can be defined as the ability to distinguish, understand and have a greater awareness of how our thoughts and feelings connect with our outward displays and behaviors, as well as the ability to manage and express appropriate emotions and help others to do the same.

How do you boost your Emotional Intelligence? By concentrating on three areas:

  • Awareness of Emotions
  • Expression of Emotions
  • Managing/Controlling Your Emotions

Each of which I’ll talk about in my next article.

[With thanks to IPEC Coaching. Web copy used by permission. No reproduction or retransmission is permitted without expressed written consent of Bruce D Schneider and the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). © 2006 – 2014 Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC)]

[Editor’s note: If you’re interested in learning more about your own levels of catabolic and anabolic energy (both in your normal state and under stress), I highly recommend taking the fascinating Energy Leadership Index (E.L.I.), administered by Dr. Clue and offered with a 1/2 discount for subscribers to this newsletter. The assessment enables people to hold up a mirror to themselves, observing their perceptions, attitudes, behaviors, and overall level of consciousness. It takes about 20 minutes to fill out online, followed by a 60-minute phone debrief from yours truly.

For more information about the E.L.I (including pricing), drop me a line at 707-544-1014 or ]