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Is Your Relationship IQ as High as You Think?

Adjusting your communication style leads to more productive relationships


by Janice Holly Booth

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Great minds think alike…or do they? The truth is there’s more than one way to get from point A to point B when it comes to problem solving, but how you’re wired will determine what route you use and how long it takes you to get there. Unfortunately, differences in thinking patterns can wreak havoc on relationships, unless we can learn how to bridge differences in thinking. Dawn Markova, Ph.D. and Angie McArthur, authors of Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking with People who Think Differently, say you can learn to master the art of creating intentional connection with one person or a whole group of people through something called CQ or collaborative intelligence quotient. The authors have created what they call the Collaborative Intelligence Playbook that will help you read other people to better communicate with them. The authors shared with Life Reimagined five steps to get help you boost your CQ and relationship IQ  and enjoy more productive, mutually satisfying relationships. So go ahead, ask yourself these questions.

See also: Want Someone To Open Up To You?

How do you think? Consider what is the most natural way for you to communicate. What environment enables you to be receptive and open minded? There is no magic way to be present and communicate. For some it’s best to talk while up and moving, for others it’s sinking into a comfy chair and chatting. For some it’s journaling their thoughts first, to share when they are ready. Make a mental note of what you already know about yourself. Perhaps even try some new ways to communicate. Notice the effect on your ability to clearly think when you change the sensory environment. Talk while sitting, or going on a walk. Write a note or a card that expresses how you feel.

What has worked in the past? Think of a time you successfully connected with this person. What were the conditions? Were you at a restaurant sitting across from each other? Were you walking? Were you driving? Or did you write something first, and then discuss it? These details hint at what might be the most effective way to communicate with this person. Many clues lie in the language people choose. To identify someone else’s communication style, begin to notice if he or she frequently uses words like “see,” “feel” or “hear.” Notice whether s/he tends to describe the visuals of a scene, the words spoken, or the actions taken and feelings experienced. These are keys to what triggers a person’s best thinking. How does she respond to detailed visuals or big picture overviews? Is there a lag before he speaks or an immediate response? How is she affected when you sit next to her versus across from her, when you stand still together, or if you walk while talking?

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What’s your game plan? Once you have considered the first two questions, think about how to approach the person you want to collaborate with. You’re looking for the way that gives you the best chances of succeeding. It’s not necessary to figure out the perfect way to connect, just to discover as much as you can about what works and what doesn’t.

What effect are you having? The most important principle when using this playbook is to notice the effect you are having in the moment. This can be challenging, because when we sense a disconnect or lack of attention from someone else, we tend to assume that it is either because we are boring or that the other person is to blame. This narrows our attention and limits what we notice. In fact, it is most likely how we are delivering the message that is not working.

See also: Say What Needs To Be Said!

What adjustments can you make? This strategy will enable you to become very flexible. Let’s take the metaphor of singing in a choir. As soon as you notice that you are slightly off-key, you adjust. In fact, singing with others requires a continual series of micro-adjustments, as does playing on a sports team. You achieve collaborative harmony when you notice the effect of your communications and know ways to adjust accordingly. Step back and consider other methods you could use to make a connection. If you are sitting and talking, and you notice the other person beginning to check out, go for a walk. If you’re planning a trip, and your partner seems disengaged, grab a computer and visualize together where you want to go. 

Want to improve your relationship? Let’s try our Building a Better Together program to learn the effective ways to enhance your collaborative intelligence.