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De-stressing Relationships in a Fast-Paced World

How to get a higher EQ -- emotional quotient -- to keep the lines of communication open.

Lack of Eye Contact

Eye contact is probably most difficult for people because it does establish a certain intimacy.  Solid relationships, therefore, should be ones where there's lots of eye contact with appropriate smiling. Make it a point to look at someone when you're talking to them or vice versa. Some people actually develop a habit of closing their eyes when talking to someone and that's usually interpreted to mean you're shutting them out or you are terribly anxious. So practice in front of a mirror or with people in the bank or market. 

Practice Reassuring Touch

Touch is something that has to be handled with tact. Make it a point to softly brush the back of the other person's hand or arm as you pass. Or you can provide a reassuring hand when opening a door or walking up stairs. The thing to remember is that it should be done gently, and almost go unnoticed.

Tune Into Your Tone

Your voice and how you project your feelings and interest (or lack thereof) can be quickly handled with some self-study at home. You can check and learn to modulate your tone by using a tape recorder or even a home video camera. Remember that the room in which you record may bounce the sound around, so pick a room with lots of dampening rugs, furniture, drapes, etc.  Record yourself first as you normally talk. Next, do some relaxation breathing and then relax your throat as you speak; speak in your normal, more throaty voice, not the one that sounds uneasy and anxious. Sound better?  More inviting?

Body Signals

What about that foot shifting? That doesn't send a message of interest! If you find it hard to stand and listen, change your position to either leaning against something or sitting down; let the other person know it's not them, it's your feet. Yes, tight shoes or foot cramps can be used as white lies to help you in a tough interaction.

Practice Feedback

Begin to develop the habit of responding with a head nod, a smile, or a slight sound as your loved one talks to you. This way they know you're engaging with them and they're talking with you rather than at you.

Above all, no matter who you're with, a smile is your best nonverbal cue anywhere, anytime, so use it often.

Reviewed on February 05, 2008
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