by Jim Cathcart
Relationship Intelligence…is something that is sorely needed in this world. Here is the premise: Intelligence takes many forms. We’ve all been familiar with Intelligence Quotient, IQ, and in recent years such concepts as Emotional Intelligence and Social Intelligence have been popularized by Daniel Goleman among others.
We’ve stopped asking the dysfunctional question “How Smart Are You?” and begun to ask the more useful question, “How Are You Smart?” There are multiple “smarts” as Howard Gardner, Robert Sternberg and Thomas Armstrong have shown us in their books: Frames of Mind, The Triarchic Mindand Seven Kinds of Smart, plus their subsequent works. We now accept such concepts as: Intellectual Bandwidth, Physical Intelligence, Interpersonal Intelligence, Musical Intelligence, and more.
I’ve found, in my work with over 3,000 audiences over the past 40 years of teaching, consulting and lecturing, that there is also such a thing as “Relationship Intelligence®”. This is the capacity for understanding and operating successfully within the context of a multitude of human relationships. Individuals with a high Relationship Intelligence (RI) have much greater success in all types of dealings because they see beyond the momentary human interactions to the desired outcomes of the relationships. This is not just “people skills”, it is understanding human interaction within the context of continuing communication and commerce.
It is, as I say in my works on Relationship Selling, seeing Relationships as ASSETS and managing them accordingly.
The business community has come to embrace this concept more and more each year. One tool that has helped in this respect is CRM software. Customer Relationship Management systems have become so commonplace that an entire subculture has grown up around them. They now have international conventions strictly for the exploration of concepts and practices that establish, expand and sustain relationships over time.
What used to be simply a Rolodex of information, or a “data base” has now become a complex system among systems for keeping people connected. We’ve advanced into understanding and anticipating people’s needs and interests so that it is today virtually a science.
Here is The RI Formula (c): Relationship Intelligence equals Awareness Factor times Communication Skill over Desired Outcome.
RI = AF x CS / DO
The “Awareness Factor” consists of reading people and reading situations, in other words: Emotional Awareness and Context Awareness plus Self Awareness.
AF = EA + CA + SA
“Communication Skill” as used here consists of self presentation (self expression) and adaptability quotient. Adaptability Quotient measures one’s capacity for adapting to differences in people and changes in circumstances. CS = SP + AQ.
All of this is meaningless until you factor in the Desired Outcome.
A relationship with no desired outcome is not a relationship at all. It is simply a momentary exchange between people. Add a desired outcome; such as a business agreement and suddenly the expectations and requirements on both parties reach a much higher level.
For example: when two people make eye contact in a hotel lobby (in the USA) it is natural for them to smile, say “hello” or acknowledge each other in some way. That is not a relationship. Assuming they ride together on the elevator and exchange comments on the weather, they are still simply in “transaction mode” re: each other. But let’s assume that they soon discover that they are both headed for a boardroom wherein they will be introduced to each other and engaged in a discussion of a new business agreement, then a relationship develops.
Once they make this discovery their dialogue will take on a new dimension. They will become significantly more interested in each other. They will listen more carefully, interact more intentionally and take the entire experience more seriously. This is because they are now “invested” in the relationship. Meaning, if it goes well they stand to gain something and if not they stand to lose something.
In a business scenario this usually revolves around money and in a social scenario it revolves around feelings.
The more Relationship Intelligent each party is the more likely the relationships will be successful. If one is Emotionally Aware, meaning they understand feelings and the factors that affect feelings, then they’ll tend to be more sensitive to others and better at tact, diplomacy, persuasion, etc.
If they are Context Aware then they will understand that the situation is part of the relationship. Dealing with a CEO is not the same as dealing with a receptionist. Dealing with an urgent situation is not the same as dealing with a routine one. And so on.
To be Self Aware means to know how you come across to others and to understand what is going on within oneself. If you don’t know you, then chances are that you don’t understand others very well either. It is vital to “know thyself” as Socrates told us. This leads to self acceptance and self improvement.
Assuming a high Awareness Factor, the next category is Communication Skill. Just knowing is not enough, people must also be able to USE their knowledge to achieve an outcome. Communication Skill is Self Presentation, the ability to effectively express one’s ideas and listen well to responses, plus Adaptability Quotient. AQ is the combination of knowing how to communicate differently with different people and knowing how to adapt to changing situations. One might be great at getting along with people of all types but unable to cope with change and consequently they’d be handicapped in that relationship. Likewise the reverse, we can be good at adapting to change but inflexible in dealing with people and encounter many obstacles to success.
All of these are learn-able skills. You can learn to notice more and thereby increase your awareness. You can learn to listen well and communicate clearly. You can learn to read people and know how to customize your responses to the way each person would best receive your communication. Also you can learn to cope with and adapt to change.
What Relationship Intelligence does, is, for the first time, it puts all of these elements into context. It shows how they interact and combine in ways that will achieve the Desired Outcome.
The organizing factor here is the Desired Outcome. One simple way to make your relationships more productive today is simply to restate and agree upon the Desired Outcome at the beginning of each dealing. Just say, “To put today’s discussion in context let’s review what we are hoping to achieve through our dealings.” Then as each person states and clarifies their hopes and goals, you increase the focus and eliminate much of the irrelevant discussion.