So as father and daughter, first recognize that you communicate differently largely because this is what you have each been taught to do. Second, recognize that no matter how old you are, you can raise your emotional intelligence by learning new skills. For example, as a dad, you can learn to turn off the TV or put down the paper when your daughter is trying to talk to you so that she won't accuse you of not listening to her. And you can spend less time asking her for the facts ("What's new lately?") and more time asking her about her feelings: "Tell me about what made you happiest or saddest lately." That's emotional intelligence. And as a daughter you can learn not to start important conversations with your father when he his preoccupied or physically exhausted. For instance, don't start a serious conversation as soon as he gets home from work or when he's at his wits end trying to fix a leaky faucet. And you can stop pouting or walking away when you're frustrated with him. That's emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence also means being able to correctly interpret what the other person is feeling. For example, when dad keeps watching TV while his daughter is trying to talk to him, she gets angry because she interprets this to mean: "He isn't interested in what's going on in my life." Meanwhile, dad feels disappointed and misunderstood because he interprets his daughter's anger to mean: "If she had any consideration for how hard I work, she'd know by now that watching TV when I first get home is the only way I can get relaxed." So who's at fault—father or daughter? The answer is: neither. Both are lacking certain emotional intelligence skills. And both are making assumptions that are hurting their relationship.

How to Talk to Anyone
Dr. Phil's 6 rules of talking and listening
How and when to say the hard things
The most useful communication technique of all time
From Between Fathers & Daughters: Enriching and Rebuilding Your Adult Relationship by Dr. Linda Nielsen, Ed.D. Reprinted by permission of Cumberland House Publishing.


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