Sometimes what we say doesn’t go over very well, regardless of our intent. There’s a difference between what we mean when we say something and how it comes across to other people. Learning that difference is an important aspect of becoming emotionally intelligent.
Emotional intelligence can help you be more aware of how you and others really feel about something. It allows you to adjust your behavior and adapt to situations so that others find you likable. In turn, it can help you build better relationships in your personal and professional life. Muriel Maignan Wilkins at the Harvard Business Review explains that being emotionally intelligent involves being aware of the gap between intent and impact:
Those with weak emotional intelligence often underestimate what a negative impact their words and actions have on others. They ignore the gap between what they mean to say and what others actually hear… Regardless of what you intend to mean, think about how your words are going to impact others and whether that’s how you want to them to feel.
Before you say something, stop, and take a moment to think about how it might sound. Ask yourself how you would feel if someone told you the same thing. Are you making the kind of impression you want to make? Remember, even if you mean well, make sure it sounds like you mean well.
Harvard Business Review