A number of people expressed interest in learning more about Emotional Intelligence, or EQ, after I discussed it in general in an earlier column. So I am exploring each of the four skills of EQ individually in separate columns.

To review, emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize, understand, and use emotions effectively. People who know and manage their own feelings well, and who comprehend and deal effectively with other peoples’ feelings are at an advantage in any sphere of life. The four skills of EQ are Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, Social Awareness, and Social Management. The skill we’ll explore today is social management.

Social or relationship management is the ability to handle the interactions we have with others constructively and positively. When we are adept at this EQ skill, we are able to establish and nurture relationships, build alliances, influence others, problem-solve, and collaborate – all those yummy cooperative things! If just one person in a group has these problem-solving and collaborative decision-making skills, this can have a positive influence on a whole group, so it pays to develop these skills.

Social management rests on the foundation of self-awareness, self-regulation, and social awareness. Once we can recognize and manage our own emotions, the ability to handle relationships well includes sensing the developmental needs of others and bolstering their abilities, as well as inspiring and guiding individuals and groups. This skill is about focusing attention on the other person – their wants, aspirations, and concerns. With good social management skills, we can lead change effectively and help others with life’s transitions.

Having good social management skills allows us to create relationships that are clear, supportive, mutually beneficial, and well-defined (that is, with good boundaries). We are also better able to be flexible and remain curious when difficult situations arise within our relationships. Our long-term relationships in particular are excellent laboratories for building our social management skills!

High social management skills can give us a strategic advantage in circumstances if strong emotions develop and affect communication and the ability of parties to make rational decisions. Negotiating, resolving conflict, and working with others toward a shared goal are instances where being adept with social management skills is very useful.

Those who can successfully recognize emotions in themselves and others are able to make more accurate assessments of peoples’ words and phrases. Words are only a small part of our conversations. The non-verbal components can be as much as 90% of the message. Decoding the non-verbal aspects takes EQ.

Social management allows for the appreciation of different points of view, so it touches on the issues of diversity, inclusivity, and tolerance of the opposing viewpoints we see everywhere in the news. With high EQ, there’s an appreciation of the importance of cultural and ethnic differences, and astuteness in considering the needs and concerns of others in decision-making. Without basic EQ skills, at best we’re just trying to keep from saying offensive things (my personal definition of “political correctness”). If we are truly caring, empathetic, and curious, we focus less on saying the wrong thing and more on making authentic connections across differences of all types.

Social management is essential for finding and maintaining our place in the social network. The skill of social management is the highest manifestation of emotional intelligence (EQ). Using the other EQ skills of self-awareness, self-regulation, and social awareness, we can be more successful in getting along well.