Expanding the individual skills of emotional intelligence to applying emotional intelligence in relationships.
We are profoundly social animals. The quality of our relationships affects our physical health, our emotional state, and the quality of our lives. This effect is not limited to just the one “significant other” relationship – all the people in our lives, from the closest friends and family to the most casual relationship with a neighbour or the cashier at the local store, contribute to (or detract from) our lives in ways we don’t usually recognise at a conscious level.
When we expand our emotional intelligence beyond our internal world, we begin to leverage the incredible power of emotionally intelligent relationships.
- Watch videos (1201, 1203) and read article (How To Give Emotional Support)
- Try the guided practices (1204, 1404)
- Explore any optional additional material that seems interesting
Video 1201: From Personal to Interpersonal Emotional Intelligence
How the individual emotional intelligence skills map on to relating with another person.
Video 1404: Authentic Self Practice
A guided practice to connect with the authentic self.
Guided Practice: The Authentic Self (audio)
Video 1203: Working With The Emotional Landscape
Processes to practice in the emotional landscape for exploring emotional issues, solving emotional problems, integrating trauma, and supporting effective boundaries.
Guided Practice: Deep Connection (audio)
Guided Practice: Improving Boundaries (Emotional Landscape)
A guided practice using the symbol of the emotional landscape to develop healthy, effective boundaries. Useful for those who have trouble knowing where their boundaries are, those whose boundaries are regularly crossed, and those who find themselves protecting their boundaries with extreme emotional reactions.
Guided Practice: Improving Boundaries (audio)
How To Give Emotional Support
You may have a natural inclination to help others who are going through a tough time. However, if you aren’t careful, you could end up saying or doing something that makes the other person feel invalidated. With this in mind, it really is beneficial to learn effective techniques to use when offering emotional support for others …
- What happened when you tried the Emotional Landscape practice?
- How do you feel about opening up to others when you feel distressed?
- Do other people come to you for support when they are distressed?
- How would you rate your level of skill in empathy, coregulation, and emotional co-operation?
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. I am really uneasy about the idea of connecting deeply with other people. Does that mean there is something wrong with me?
A. “Wrong” is a very loaded word – usually, this kind of feeling means that you have had bad experiences in the past. If it seems you have always felt this way, these bad experiences may have happened in your first year or two of life.
In some people, the neural circuits in the brain are wired a bit differently, which means that we may need different conditions to feel safe and relaxed. For example, with a typical neurology, people find eye contact with a caring person soothing, but for some people, who have a a less common structure to their neurology, eye contact can be extremely intense and overwhelming, rather than soothing.
As you can imagine, someone whose neurology is atypical is likely to have had many, many bad experiences with well-meaning people who didn’t understand their needs. And even if your neurology is typical, many adults have poor emotional intelligence, and unintentionally create bad experiences for their young children.
Q. I don't "see" my emotional landscape. How do I know the practice is working?
A. Not everybody processes information in the same way. Some people will have vivid mental pictures of their emotional landscape, while others will exerience it more as a sense an array of objects, or even as a soundscape.
You don’t need to “see” a dramatic change to know that your emotional landscape practice is working. The effects of the emotional landscape practice will show up during the day, in how you feel about the things you worked on during the practice. You may also observe changes in the way you act, or in your emotional reactions to other people. It may simply be a lower level of stress, or a new ability to relax and enjoy “down time”.
Q. How do I know when to use the Team Meeting and when to use the Emotional Landscape?
A. In one sense, it doesn’t matter which you choose, because both are using symbolic language to have a conversation between your two intelligences.
In another sense, this is a deeply personal choice. Some people find that using images of people evokes so much trauma that they can’t work effectively with the Team Meeting or Lost Children processes. Others find landscapes threatening, or have trouble picturing scenery.
But, assuming you find both processes equally accessible, then the Team Meeting practice is ideal for resolving internal conflicts. You may become aware of an internal conflict as resistance during the Pattern Release practice, or as something you directly perceive during the Emotional Pressure Release practice. You may also become aware of it because you are having trouble making a decision, or you want to do something but you have an emotional resistance to doing it.
The Emotional Landscape is a highly flexible tool, which can be used in many different ways. It is particularly useful for working with issues that don’t want to come fully into the conscious mind.
You will discover through your own experiments which tools work best for you – these are only general principles, and every individual will have their own ways to work with the language of symbols.
Q. Is it OK not just not talk at all during the Listening From Nothing practice?
A. It’s a good sign when you reach a level of peace that makes you feel there is nothing to say. We encourage you to keep saying whatever arises when it is your turn to speak, even if you end up saying “I don’t want to say anything right now” five times in a row.
In this practice, we are discovering a different kind of speaking, as well as a different kind of listening.
We are accustomed to speaking for a reason, to get something to happen, to get a response from the world. And the expected response shapes what we say and how we say it.
In this practice, we already know that there will be no response. We have complete freedom to simply express what is alive in us in one particular moment. For many of us, this is the first time in our lives we have ever had someone provide the safe listening space that allows that freedom.
Some people can find it confusing, or even scary, to suspend the “rules of engagement” for conversations, and some people may even feel dangerously exposed in speaking their raw truth. Simply notice whatever comes up for you, voice it (if it is your turn to speak), and then let it go.
About Drs John and Julie Gottman
World-renowned for his work on marital stability and divorce prediction, John Gottman has conducted 40 years of breakthrough research with thousands of couples. His work on marriage and parenting has earned him numerous major awards, including:
- Four National Institute of Mental Health Research Scientist Awards
- The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Distinguished Research Scientist Award
- The American Family Therapy Academy Award for Most Distinguished Contributor to Family Systems Research
- The American Psychological Association Division of Family Psychology, Presidential Citation for Outstanding Lifetime Research Contribution
- The National Council of Family Relations, 1994 Burgess Award for Outstanding Career in Theory and Research
Julie is the co-founder and President of The Gottman Institute. A highly respected clinical psychologist, she is sought internationally by media and organizations as an expert advisor on marriage, sexual harassment and rape, domestic violence, gay and lesbian adoption, same-sex marriage, and parenting issues. She is the co-creator of the immensely popular The Art and Science of Love weekend workshops for couples, and she also co-designed the national clinical training program in Gottman Method Couples Therapy. Her other achievements include:
- Washington State Psychologist of the Year
- Author/co-author of books: Eight Dates: Essential Conversations for a Lifetime of Love, Ten Lessons to Transform Your Marriage, And Baby Makes Three, 10 Principles for Doing Effective Couples Therapy, The Man’s Guide to Women, and The Marriage Clinic Casebook
- Wide recognition for her clinical psychotherapy treatment, with specialization in distressed couples, abuse and trauma survivors, substance abusers and their partners, and cancer patients and their families