Emotional intelligence requires a good understanding of your friends and the people you meet. Understanding the people around you requires understanding of the emotional and intellectual world they inhabit, empathy. Without empathy, there is no emotional or intellectual connection to anyone. Without the connection, the communication is superficial. All the communication is as satisfying as a fortune cookie message or as vague as a message on Facebook.
With emotional intelligence, you assess the emotional content under the verbal and non-verbal communication. Then you respond appropriately. If the communication is only intellectual, it will be unsatisfying to everybody. If the communication is only emotional, you have little to offer the listener except your feelings.
Another step in developing empathy is listening to vocal tone. We have many words to describe tone. Sad, positive, snide, upbeat, joyful, etc. Tone starts with the pitch then enhances and modifies it. Positive emotions and feelings are generally in a major musical key. Negative emotions are in a minor key. Holiday music is generally in a major key. Sad love songs are in minor keys. The musical key is your first hint as to the direction of the communication and empathy.
Lower tones are calming. Higher tones indicate energy and joy or energy and anger. To calm someone, speak lower and slower. To excite someone, bring the tone higher and with more energy. Someone speaking in a low, slow tone and rhythm tells you that something needs to be calmed for the speaker. Is the energy around the given circumstance too high for the communication or does the speaker needs to calm themself to communicate effectively with you? In feeling the energy and the emotional content, you can make a decision about what will help make the communication effective. If you match the tone and rhythm, you will strengthen the emotional direction of the conversation. If you move the tone in the other direction, you will attempt to change the emotion of the communication.
With empathy, you feel and understand the emotional need of the communication. The choice you make as to the direction of your response either fulfills the emotional need of the speaker or alters it. Understanding the emotional need is the basis for emotional intelligence. If you understand the emotional needs of someone else, you have an understanding of your own emotions and your own needs.
Someone who always needs to be right, get the last word, cannot be swayed from their position. Nothing will move them. Knowing that and agreeing with them takes the need for them to keep taking away. Then with the right tone, another point of view may be advanced. Please understand, the popular term, I understand what you are saying, is botched up by tone so often that it isn’t believed. And the advice to restate the other persons position gets lost in tone. Relying on understanding of the emotional need before restating the position or telling them you understand, provides the response with the right tone to move the conversation forward in a positive way.