Let Intelligence not Emotion Guide Your Relationship

Besides my private practice, I also teach Psychology at an undergraduate level at a local University. One of the topics I cover is Intelligence. We realize now that the definition of intelligence is much broader than originally thought. In fact, there are many different types of intelligence; it’s not just what the intelligence test measures.

Additionally, even when someone seems intelligent, it’s amazing how often he or she may make decisions that seem rather unintelligent. I came across a very interesting blog that referred to an article written by Michael London, a consultant to New Scientist, regarding how these faulty mistakes are made. First, I’d like to share his findings. And then, because one of the signs of intelligence is the ability to transfer knowledge from one situation to another, I’d like to point out how his findings are relevant to relationships. (Of course, you probably knew I was going there.)

London’s findings included the following:
1. CLEAR YOUR MIND: Judgments can often be based on a piece of information you’ve recently had in mind, even if it’s irrelevant. For example, bidding high at an auction after thinking about the height of the tallest person in the room.
2. DON’T FALL FOUL OF SPIN: We have an inclination to be strongly influenced by the way a problem is framed. For instance, people are more likely to spend a monetary award immediately if they’re told it’s a bonus, compared with a rebate.
3. DON’T LET EMOTIONS GET IN THE WAY: Emotions often interfere with our assessment of risk. One example is our natural reluctance to cut our losses on a falling investment because it might start rising again.
4. BE FACT BASED: Don’t allow your beliefs and opinions to cloud your analysis.
5. THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES: When considering how a course of action will make you feel, talk to someone who’s been through a similar situation rather than try to imagine your future state of mind; run mental movies about how an option might play out.
6. LOOK BEYOND THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION: Don’t accept the first thing that pops into your head.

I believe that all too often we would do far better if we let intelligence not emotions guide our relationships! So, what follows are my comparisons to London’s points as they relate to partnerships:
1. CLEAR YOUR MIND: Don’t necessarily respond to your mate based on something that just happened. It may not really be representative of your relationship.
2. DON’T FALL FOUL OF SPIN: When people are hurt, angry, or upset, they say things in less than perfect ways. Don’t necessarily get grabbed by the way something is presented. Instead, take a deep breath and try to trust the essence of what your partner is conveying … the underlying feelings.
3. DON’T LET EMOTIONS GET IN THE WAY: Relationships are prime areas for emotions to flare up. Try to not respond to significant others when you’re in an emotional state.
4. BE FACT BASED: Know that you have beliefs that have come from your history and family of origin. However, they may not be correct. Be willing to be open to new experiences with people who are important to you and do things differently.
5. THINK CAREFULLY ABOUT THE LONG-TERM CONSEQUENCES: Using your imagination to anticipate consequences regarding your relationships is quite a useful tool. When you’re uncertain about how to proceed, before you take action, play out different scenarios in your mind. Only proceed if you’re willing to accept the consequences.
6. LOOK BEYOND THE OBVIOUS SOLUTION: Especially when you’re emotional, the first thing that pops into your head about how to act is often impulsive and something you’ll regret. Allow yourself to consider other possibilities or get input from others whom you trust. Then decide.

Well, that was my spin on London’s points. As I said, the more you can allow intelligence rather than emotion to guide your relationship, the more empowered they will be. But you may have your own intelligent ideas!