This EI factor is defined as our ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships and relate well with others. Mutual satisfaction describes meaningful social interactions that are potentially rewarding and enjoyable for those involved. Being adept in interpersonal relationship skills is characterized by giving and receiving warmth and affection and conveying intimacy when appropriate. This component of emotional-social intelligence is not only associated with the desirability of cultivating friendly relations with others, but with the ability to feel at ease and comfortable in such relationships and to possess positive expectations concerning social interaction. This social skill is based on sensitivity towards others, a desire to establish relations as well as feeling satisfied with relationships.
Based on a number of studies that have examined this factor, it has been shown that there is a connection between the ability to be aware of emotions and the ability to create and maintain interpersonal relationships. Additionally, it has been shown that the ability to give and receive warmth in relations is not only dependent on the ability to be aware of emotions but also on the ability to understand feelings and emotions within those relations. People who are adept at this ability are pleasant to be around, appear outgoing and warm. They often contribute to a positive atmosphere at work. This skill is a prerequisite for a number of professions and occupations such as marketing, sales and customer service. Individuals who are weak in interpersonal relationship are often described as shy, introverted, uneasy around others and prone to avoiding social contact. They are typically unpleasant to be with and work with.
Last, the EQ-i™ Interpersonal Relationship scale that taps this EI factor has demonstrated a high negative correlation with a measure of borderline personality disorder, which makes sense in light of the fact that individuals who are diagnosed with this disorder have great difficulty in establishing and maintaining contact (most likely because they lack the ability to express warmth).
This EI factor is very similar to, if not identical with, “connectedness” defined as the ability to effectively and constructively connect with others; and at a deeper level, it is based on social-awareness and empathy. All of these various ways of describing this construct are part of what many refer to as “social skills” in the popular leadership literature. Without good social skills, leaders will find it difficult if not impossible to manage and lead others.