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Online Dating Magazine > Columns > Office Hours with Dr. Jim > Relationship IQ (part 2)

Office Hours With Dr. Jim
by James Houran, Ph.D

In this column, "Dr. Jim" honestly and candidly answers your questions about dating, love and sexuality. He doesn’t tell you what you want to hear – he tells you what you need to hear. Dr. Jim is committed to offering you guidance based on responsible clinical practice and hard data from the latest scientific studies. Send Dr. Jim your questions today for consideration in an upcoming issue.


Relationship IQ - Part 2

The preceding relationship IQ column talked about the idea of Relationship IQ –a form of emotional intelligence that involves the ability to understand other people. This installment addresses ways to foster and hone this crucial skill for navigating relationships. Notice I said that Relationship IQ was a skill. No one is born with great people skills; these are learned over time. Certain personality traits may predispose a person to learn and use people skills faster than others, but Relationship IQ is something that I feel almost anyone of average intelligence can develop well.


Improving Relationship IQ…
Unlike general intelligence (learning and reasoning ability), Relationship IQ is much easier to improve. These simple techniques will get you started:

Meet at least one new person each week. This may be difficult at first, but if you liven-up your social life and convey an image of being very open and friendly to others, then you should have a much easier time meeting people.

Here are some easy ways you can meet people:

1. Become a volunteer. Surely there are a number of volunteer organizations in your area that would benefit tremendously from you and your skills. While you’re there, you’re very likely to meet people with similar interests and values.

2. Get Involved. If you’ve a hobby and there are groups of enthusiasts in your area, perhaps you could arrange a casual party where you all can talk about your experiences and enjoyment for the activity. Or, you could simply join an already established hobby club. If you don’t have a hobby, try to develop one. It can be a great way to meet people and release stress at the same time.

3. Broaden your social network offline. Join a community or church organization. If you have a child who is active in extracurricular activities, try getting involved. Not only will you be able to spend more time with your child, but also meet other people in the community.

> As your social network begins to blossom, you should probably invest in a “little black book” where you can record the names and contact information that you meet. Be sure to keep in touch with your new acquaintances. The next time you go out, you can mention to your new friends that you’ll be out and that they should feel free to join you.

> Try initiating a conversation with people you don’t know. If you find that you don’t like the person, you probably won’t ever see them again

> Go and participate in the chat rooms on online dating sites, as well as use email and IM.  If there’s a particular subject area or that you are very knowledgeable about, considering helping others who are interested in learning more.

As you work on improving your social network, you can work on ways to improve your ability to perceive and understand others if you:

> Work with a date coach. There are a number of credentialed and effective date coaches available and easily reachable online. Good date coaches don’t teach how to manipulate others, but instead they can teach you how to be more aware of yourself, how you come across to others and how to read other people.

> Spend some time each day “people-watching.” Simply observing how people behave can provide tremendous insight into human behavior. While people-watching “make predictions” about how certain people might behave or where they’re going or what they’re doing. This sort of thinking will sharpen you ability to make inferences about the behavior of people in your relationships.

> Contemplate your relationships with your friends and family. Why are these relationships so important to you? Why are some of them terrific, while others are so trying? Thinking about your feelings about your relationships and their strengths and weaknesses will not only help you appreciate your current relationships, but also improve the not so great ones.

> Try thinking about how you might come across to others. Your feedback profile from compatibility and relationship assessments available on some online dating sites can help greatly here. Then, once you have an idea of how you might be perceived, ask yourself whether you perceive others in that particular way. This process will help you identify the behaviors that you express or convey when you feel a certain way, and what you notice in other people’s behavior when they might people feeling that way. Hopefully, with some practice, you will be able to pick-up on the cues that are diagnostic of how a person might be feeling.


Dr. James Houran's "Office Hours with Dr. Jim" column is published every Monday.

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