Being relationally intelligent is one of the bedrocks of healthy relationships which trickles health and happiness into every aspect of your life. Adam Bandelli is the master of this topic and this week he gives us an in depth look into what relational intelligence is, the skills that make a relationally intelligent person and how to bring these practices into your daily life. 

This episode is a life changing listen and I know you can bring all this information into your life and those around you as well! 

In this week’s episode, we discuss: 

[1:11] Who is Dr Adam Bandelli? 

[5:41] Adam’s struggle with mental health 

[9:34] What is Relational Intelligence? 

[10:13] First Skill of Relational intelligence: Establishing Rapport 

[13:18] Second Skill of Relational Intelligence: Understanding Others

[16:55] Third Skill of Relational Intelligence: Embracing Individual Differences  

[21:00] Fourth Skill of Relational Intelligence: Developing Trust 

[24:57] Fifth Skill of Relational Intelligence: Cultivating Influence 

[27:11] The Stages of Relational Intelligence in Romantic Relationships

[34:37] Can Relational Intelligence restore a relationship

[37:38] How does one find out how well developed their Relational Intelligence is

[38:59] After learning this information how does one move forward

[43:29] Adam’s favorite date

Who is Dr. Adam Bandelli? 

Dr. Adam Benelli is a visionary founder and managing director of Bandelli Associates. He has 20 years of management and leadership consulting experience and is also the author of the books “Relational Intelligence: Five Essential Skills You Need To Build Life-Changing Relationships” and “What Every Leader Needs: The 10 Universal and Disputable Competencies of Leadership Effectiveness”. 

Adam started off as an athlete and soon realized he wasn’t going into the NBA so he moved on to plan B and moved into industrial organizational psychology where he met a teacher that impacted him right off the bat. He began a pattern of writing handwritten notes to teachers he really liked and that got him invited to the American Psychological Association’s Annual Conference. There he learned about emotional intelligence which led him to his passion of relational intelligence. 

Adam’s struggle with mental health 

When Adam started his doctoral program he started to experience depressive symptoms. He started to feel despair and hopelessness and started seeing a therapist on campus. Once he returned from summer break, Adam started noticing behaviors on the other spectrum such as, sleeplessness, spending excessive amounts of money and drinking a lot, like someone who is manic. He was quickly diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and given medications. He rejected the diagnosis because he had been a psychologist for 7-8 years and lived in denial, which led him to destroy a marriage and career. 

He had to learn to discard his old beliefs of toxic masculinity and find humility. This experience brought him to where he is today and he believes everything happens for a reason. 

What is Relational Intelligence? 

Relational intelligence is the ability to successfully connect with others and build strong, long-lasting relationships. The Bandelli relational intelligence model comprises five skills that people in their life can practice. 

First Skill of Relational intelligence: Establishing Rapport 

Establishing Rapport is the ability to use energy to create a positive initial connection with another person. This is the first impression that you get on a first date and what your body language shows. It’s not just about what you’re communicating but how you’re doing it and what questions you’re asking. 

There are two underlying themes in relational intelligence: intentionality and authenticity. These are extremely important because they don’t align with any manipulative behaviors. 

Second Skill of Relational Intelligence: Understanding Others  

Understanding others is the ability to be intentional about putting in the time and effort needed to get to know someone on a deeper level. This is where emotional intelligence is important because this is the ability to understand your emotions, the emotions of others and how to manage emotions effectively. Relationally intelligent people listen to hear not to respond, and they are empathetic and compassionate. 

There are some blind spots that can keep people from creating strong relationships including lacking self awareness, lacking social astuteness, being able to read the room and poor management of emotion.

Third Skill of Relational Intelligence: Embracing Individual Differences  

This is the ability to be authentic and acknowledge/accept that everyone comes from different backgrounds and experiences. You want to appreciate others’ stories and bring your true self which allows you to have a stronger connection with others. 

When working with clients, Adam helps them understand what their values are, what makes them tick, understand how they want to show up and what may get you frustrated or angry. You can’t be authentic if you don’t do that hard work. 

Fourth Skill of Relational Intelligence: Developing Trust 

This is the most important skill in relational intelligence.It is defined as the ability to be vulnerable and risk being exposed to the actions and behaviors of others, vulnerability being a key piece here. Without trust, relationships don’t thrive. 

The currency of trust is built on the 5 C’s: competence, commitment, consistency, character and courage. Trust patterns start in childhood and they get impacted by the relationships we have as we get older. It’s important to trust yourself before you can trust others or extend trust. In regards to relational intelligence, trust must be given not earned and making investments into the relationships with people without the expectation that you’re gonna get something returned every single time. 

Fifth Skill of Relational Intelligence: Cultivating Influence 

This is the ability to have a positive and meaningful impact on the development or growth in another person. In a relationship, this is extremely important because as you have a longer, more committed relationship you should want to bring out the best in them and support them in achieving their dreams. 

These don’t have to be in succession but it is helpful to have one before the other. 

The Stages of Relational Intelligence in Romantic Relationships

There is the honeymoon stage which can be the first 3-6 months where building rapport is extremely important. During this stage try to not be super self-focused and be willing to learn about the other person. 

Then you will experience the reality state phase where you might ask yourself what you got yourself into. Most relationships will end here if you don’t embrace individual differences, show up authentically and be your full self in the relationship. This is when the ways in which you manage conflict are really important and can make or break your relationship. 

The adjustment stage follows where vulnerability becomes really important. Developing trust is paramount and you start to share your doubts, fears and worries with your partner. You might start discussing adversity and what you’ve gone through in your life and you start to practice intentional generosity. It is also extremely important to keep your individuality during this time and not lose yourself. 

Finally, there is the lasting intimacy phase where you are really going into marriage and building a life together. Cultivating intelligence comes in and you start to talk about future goals that you have as a couple. You may challenge your partner to remove bad habits and become lifelong learners together. 

Can Relational Intelligence restore a relationship?

Adam states that he knows a couple with children who work very different schedules. They started to carve out date nights with intentionality and like many couples who have intentionally invested in their relationship they can restore it one hundred percent. 

How does one find out how well developed their Relational Intelligence is

Adam recommends firstly to read his book and look at the playbook of skills and see what you actually know from them already. Also, go to his website and take the relational intelligence assessment. 

After learning this information how does one move forward

Adam recommends a journaling practice that has supported him for 10-15 years. Being clear on what you want in a relationship or in life, and being honest about how things are playing out in your life so far. 

Focusing on relational intelligence is extremely important especially since the pandemic and we lost the art of face to face communication. This can also be a supportive system for people with mental health issues or family members. 

We are in the Great Resignation and people’s values around employment are significantly changing. If a business owner focuses on relational intelligence they can greatly enhance the profitability of their business for the future. 

Adam’s favorite date 

The date was a first date that started out at a swim park and then they went two hours away and went out to see a jazz band. The date was a whole weekend that went really well. There were many opportunities for disaster but their personalities meshed very well and they got to know each other very fast. 

Come hang out with me on Instagram @celestemooreimage and let me know your thoughts of this episode because I love hearing from you all! 

Connect with Adam 




The Art of Relational Intelligence with Adam Bandelli

February 6, 2023