We don’t “just know” how to talk to our partners.In any intimate relationship, we need to learn how to communicate, says psychotherapist Marcy Cole, PhD, who has coached couples for more than 20 years.
The ability to effectively identify, articulate, and respond to feelings is what Cole defines as interpersonal IQ. She’s found that there are 10 communication patterns that can hurt our interpersonal IQ and the emotional intimacy in a relationship, and for each one, she’s come up with a process to flip the script.
Interpersonal IQ and Communication Tools for Committed Couples
By Marcy Cole, PhD
The term “interpersonal IQ” came to me during a conversation, without any prior knowledge of its existence. As I saw it, IPIQ is the level of one’s capacity to clearly hear, understand, and effectively communicate and fully interact with another person.
It takes the quality of emotional intelligence (EQ), a term coined by Daniel Goleman, a step further into the realm of translating thoughts, feelings, and intentions for the purpose of connecting with others in a meaningful way.
Later I realized that this concept was not an original one, as inspired downloads rarely are. Howard Gardner, in his 1983 book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligence’s, proposed a model consisting of eight criteria of intelligence. One of them was interpersonal intelligence, which he defined as how you understand, motivate, lead, work with, and cooperate with others.
Developing IPIQ is important for optimal living because it goes beyond EQ into the interpersonal arena. It’s communication that makes that connection happen. Words can hurt or heal. They can put you down or promote. They can push you away or pull you close. They can let you down or lift you up. This is true in any relational domain: community, collegial, family, friendship, or romantic.
Developing IPIQ is also crucial for committed relationships to succeed. The term “love” is rooted in the Sanskrit lubhyati, which means desire. Humans have a natural desire to love and be loved. Romantic partnerships are just one of the many types of significant relationships in our lives.
The urge to fall in love is a primal biological drive, like hunger and sex. It is on this intimacy front where we so often play out most of our experiences or unmet issues with attachment and loss. Within this field, so much can get triggered, and even more can be healed.
What I know about developing interpersonal IQ in relationships is informed by my professional work with couples as well as my own personal experiences. I’ve identified ten perceptual communication patterns—or love breakers—that stunt, separate, and destroy intimacy. And on the flip side, there are ten love-making prescriptions to boost your IPIQ and the quality of your relationship.
As you read through these examples of habitual patterns, reflect on the love-breaking patterns that have been active in your relationship. Then consider applying the love-making language recommendations to transform those sabotaging patterns into a deeper sense of connection.
Read these with your partner or share at least one nugget with them.