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Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence Skills: Behavioral Style Flexing

We all have our preferred ways dealing with other people and the situations in which we find ourselves. Some people are quiet and reflective, others want to talk about things in open ways, while yet others are logical and fact-focused. Whatever our general approach, one useful skill that we can all learn however is to “style-flex” or adjust our style according to the needs of the person we are talking to or in relation to a particular set of circumstances.

Style flexing specifically involves temporarily changing or modifying your behavioral style so that it is similar to the person you are communicating with.  This helps reduce tension and misunderstandings that are caused by style differences. It also helps to make the other person feel more relaxed and prone to work with you, rather than feeling that his or her perspective may be “out-of-step” with yours.

Style flexing can be practiced by the following:

A. Accurately reading body language. This can help you:

  • read others’ emotion, mood, and style so that you can better flex to them
  • pay attention to your own expression of style through your own body language
  • mirror others (that is, reflect their physical movements)
  • convey greater empathy to others

B. Building Empathy and Social Awareness

  • empathy builds on self-awareness
  • the more open we are to our own emotions, the more skilled we can become in reading others’ feelings (increasing empathy)
  • coordination of moods is the essence of rapport (being “in sync”)
  • setting the emotional tone of an interaction drives the emotional state of others
  • “social awareness” is being able to detect and have insights about people’s feelings, motives, and concerns

The featured video clip is a short excerpt from the ReadyToManage, Rapid Skill Builder eLearning program, Emotional Intelligence: An RSB eLearning Course.

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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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About the Editor and Primary Author

Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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