De-stressing Relationships in a Fast-Paced World
How to get a higher EQ -- emotional quotient -- to keep the lines of communication open.
The more devices we invent to improve communication, the more difficult
it often becomes to effectively communicate with our loved ones.
But a loving, secure relationship is serious business, and harder than ever
to manage in this stressful, hi-tech world we inhabit.
Stress may not be apparent to
you, but your partner may be able to see it just in the way you enter a room,
or the way your eyes seem to dart about rather than glance around you. There's
a hint of something in the air and you're giving off signals that all is not
well with you.
So, how do you manage to keep the relationship on an even keel when the
stress of today's 24/7 world has you feeling a bit rocky?
Researchers have come up with some interesting approaches that you can apply
to stress in your relationship. Much of this work was done several decades ago;
we first heard of it as "body language," in which meaning is inferred
from nonverbal body cues.
Your Body's Reaction to Stress
In psychology, there's something called "alexithymia" and it comes
from the Greek alexithymos -- meaning "without words for
emotions." If you can't tell someone about your stress, your body
will do it for you, in other words. The signs
of stress are up like flags signaling storm warnings: the eyes squint and
dart, the shoulders are held up tight and rigid, and the arms and hands fail to
relax. The whole "look" is one of tension and unspoken problems.
Without even knowing it, you're sending a message to your partner that might
put him or her on edge, and potentially increase tension in your
So how can you defuse this tension when you're not even aware of the message
you are sending?
The answer lies in sharpening your ability to "listen with your
eyes" to pick up the cues you are sending based on the reactions
your partner is sending back your way. It's a process of building the
relationship through gaining insight into what that crook of the eye or
downward glance may mean. Not just what you think it might mean, but
what experience with your partner has told you it means for her or
The next step is to work on nonverbal skills that will send your partner the
message you want to deliver: You are important to me. Each of us has our own
slant on how we send those nonverbal messages, so it's a bit like deciphering a
code and developing what we might call your EQ or emotional quotient. But
instead of "Q" as in quotient, it's "cue" as in, of course,
Five Basic Nonverbal Warning Cues
- Lack of eye contact
- There is no soft, just-for-the-fun-of-it touching
- The tone of voice is shrill or in a higher register
- Shifting from foot to foot or stepping backward
- An absence of either nodding in agreement or some "mmm" sounds to
let them know you're really listening to them
The trick here is to recognize body language for what it truly is and to
take a good hard look at your own nonverbal cues. The best way to do this
is to use any of several methods. Let's take the five cues above one at a
time and see how you can sharpen your skills in terms of the cues you're
sending out. Remember, people are influenced by what you do and don't
say, so practice and you will notice a change in how someone relates to