What Can I Do About Low Emotional Intelligence?

four smiling people






After a recent presentation to introduce the crucial importance of Emotional Intelligence skills in the workplace, Leslie, an audience member, came up to thank me and to express her excitement about the concepts of Emotional Intelligence.  “This all helps explain what is going on in our department!  As a manager, I now have a better understanding  of  the situation and how my own behaviors may be making it worse.  But now I need to know—what do I do about it!”

Unlike IQ, which probably can’t be improved much (especially as an adult), the skills of Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) can be improved for greater satisfaction, success, and well-being.  A healthy level of Emotional Intelligence among leaders and managers can positively affect a team, a department, and an entire organization.  Even better is providing opportunities for all employees to evaluate and improve their own EI skills.

How Can I Provide Emotional Intelligence Training to My Team?

It may seem the ideal situation to have plentiful time and resources to provide face-to-face, facilitated workshops to train leaders, managers, and employees.  And I have given many such workshops—of varying lengths–to a wide variety of teams and organizations.  But almost invariably I hear from participants that although the workshop or presentation was right on and provided great information:  “it would have been better if it could have been longer.”  People recognize how significant the skills of EI are in the workplace, and they understand that it can take some time to gain those skills.

So here at Emotional Intelligence Insights, we took on the challenge to create an interactive, engaging, informative, and useful course that is also affordable in terms of both time and capital.  The result is the online, on-demand course, Emotional Intelligence 101.  The course includes 7 online lessons (about 60 to 90 minutes each), that can be taken anywhere, anytime as long as you have access to the internet.  Emotional Intelligence 101 includes a brief self-assessment, an understandable introduction to the concepts of EI including the recent research in the neurosciences, provocative photos and videos, downloadable exercises, opportunities for interacting (with the facilitator and other course participants), and guided reflections for choosing among over 50 suggested ideas for improving Emotional Intelligence skills.

Leslie, the audience member who was excited about these ideas, decided to sign up her management team to take the course.  As they interact and learn together, they are expanding their own Emotional Intelligence, which will allow them to create a workplace environment that supports the success, the satisfaction, and the well-being of all employees.

Want to Learn More about Emotional Intelligence 101?

Is this a good fit for your organization?  The course is an amazing way to increase EI skills at your own pace and at your convenience.  Discounts are available for teams/groups of 8 or more, and you can choose the start date.  For a complete course outline and more information about Emotional Intelligence 101, see our website:  www.emotionalintelligenceinsights.com or contact us at kerr@bainbridge.net.  We’d love to help you and your team get started on a journey to greater Emotional Intelligence for greater success, satisfaction, and well-being.

Don’t Eat Those Carrots! Emotional Intelligence and Ethics

boy eating carrots“You can eat anything but those carrots—don’t eat those carrots!”  Long ago, I attempted this sort of “reverse psychology” on a rather obstinate two-year old, trying to get her to eat more nutritiously.  I can’t even remember if it worked!  More recently, I came across an article that described ten “tricks” for using “psychology” to win friends and influence people, and I was reminded of those reverse psychology tricks.

But this article was for adults and provided tips such as smiling and making eye contact with someone as you talk, or asking a favor of someone to get closer to them.  Now, I’m not saying it’s wrong to smile at that grumpy clerk—you may help bring up his mood, and he may be more helpful to you if you pay some sincere attention to him.  And I’m not saying that you shouldn’t ask a neighbor to lend a hand in getting your car out of a ditch—or to help you out with that proverbial cup of sugar.  People often do respond well to a smile, and they may indeed feel like a trusted friend when you ask for a favor.

But how far can we take these “tricks” even if we call them “techniques” or “skills”?  What are the ethics here?

In enhancing Emotional Intelligence, we teach people to become more aware of others—through their voice tone, body language, and other non-verbal communication as well as what they actually say.  Employing various techniques for improving interpersonal relationships is also an area of emphasis—giving people credit for a job well done for example, or showing concern for their needs.  A number of skills can be learned and successfully put into practice for building satisfying relationships, teams, and organizations.

But where is the line between using techniques for mutual good and manipulating others for personal gain?  History has many lessons to teach us about leaders who have employed manipulative skills to gain the trust and loyalty of others—often to the detriment of those others.  If you are a keen reader of others’ emotions, if you are skilled in gaining the trust of others, if you can easily influence others to be on “your side” in a given situation, what are your responsibilities as an emotionally intelligent being?

We are no longer talking about getting a two-year old to eat carrots.  Rather, we are talking about adults who are working in offices, hospitals, government, law enforcement, education, social services, churches and temples and mosques, prisons—and in a myriad of places in which people interact with other people—in the home, in the workplace, in the community, and in the world community as well.  What are the guidelines for using  any number of “techniques” based on our knowledge of how people think and how they behave?

Dr. Paul Ekman, named one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century (see his website:  paulekman.com), provides some guidance for behaving ethically when armed with the powerful insights of psychology.  These principles seem to me to be enormously important as we go forth to assess emotional intelligence and then teach people how to enhance their skills.  Ekman suggests four straightforward concepts for behaving with emotional intelligence and doing so in an ethical manner:

  1. Become more consciously aware of when you are becoming emotional, even before you speak or act
  2. Choose how you behave when you are emotional so you achieve your goals without damaging other people
  3. Become more sensitive to how others are feeling
  4. Carefully use the information you acquire about how others are feeling

These principles can guide us as we work to develop our emotional intelligence skills and provide training to others.  They imply a basic respect for other people and for their feelings.  Wouldn’t the world be better if we kept these principles in mind?

I’d love to hear what you have to say on this topic. Please comment below or shoot me an email (kerr@bainbridge.net).

What’s in a Face?

New moms and dads do it without any lessons.  Airport security personnel do it with special training.  Lovers do it ad infinitum(some would say ad nauseum!).  Teachers do it with practiced wisdom.  Nurses do it with empathy for their patients.  
Almost all of us, in fact, do it every day—we read the faces of family members, students, patients, customers, and even strangers.  Our brains are wired to do a lightening analysis of faces from the time we are infants.  We know that babies learn to hone this innate skill by mimicking the facial expressions of their moms and dads and caretakers.  
As adults, we are all on a spectrum for being able to accurately read faces. Some of us are more finely attuned to the meaning of even quite subtle facial expressions and are able to understand, empathize, and communicate better.  Fortunately, reading faces to understand the emotions behind them is a skill that can be learned.
The eminent psychologist, Dr. Paul Ekman, has studied emotions for over 40 years.  He has developed a system,the Facial Action Coding System (FACS), through which people can learn to read the “microexpressions” of some forty facial muscles.”    By employing the FACS system, you can learn to recognize when people are lying, but also to understand what they are feeling.  Ekman and his team teach doctors, lawyers, law enforcement personnel, and performers to recognize these micrexpressions, which can reveal “hidden” information about a person.  
Dr. Ekman traveled far and wide—even into societies that had rarely if ever had communication with the outside world—to study facial expressions.  His research led him to the conclusion that there are at least seven universal expressions.  That is, if you go into any human society, anywhere on Earth, people will recognize the emotion behind these seven universal expressions.  Can you guess what they are?  (The answers are at the bottom of this post, but see if you can guess the seven emotions before you look at the list!)
Next time you attend a meeting, speak to a co-worker or the boss, or chat with the cashier at the market, see what your powers of observation can tell you as you look at their faces.  
ANSWERS:  joy, anger, sadness, surprise, fear, disgust, contempt
 Interested in Learning More?
  Sign up for our online, on-demand course, Emotional Intelligence 101: A Journey to Greater Success and Well-Being in the Workplace.

 To learn more about how to get started in Emotional Intelligence 101—for individuals, teams, and entire organizations seeking greater success, satisfaction and well-being, go to our website:  www.emotionalintelligenceinsights.com   or contact us at kerr@bainbridge.net

Can we manage our emotions?

kidsCan you imagine yourself in this picture?  Use your imagination to enter this situation—hold this snake and feel its scales against your skin.  How would YOU feel in this moment? It’s pretty clear here that each of these snake handlers feels differently about the experience. 

Not everyone feels the same in a given situation.  Same situation, different feelings. You might try out a list of various situations (examples:  the car breaks down on the freeway, dear friends announce a divorce, you inherit a considerable sum from a distant relative)  with family or colleagues.  You may be surprised to find how differently people react to the same situation.
How can you increase this skill to honestly identify your feelings?  Remember, the reason for identifying your feelings is so that you can learn to manage  them.
There are over 4,000 words in the English language to describe feelings, but it takes practice to be honest with yourself and accurately identify how you feel. 
Being able to identify and describe feelings and emotions in the moment is a first step in achieving healthy sense of self-awareness—a foundational building block of strong emotional intelligence.  We refer to this as “emotional literacy.”   
Interested in learning more? 
If you liked this sample activity, you may be interested in enrolling in the online (anywhere, anytime) course:  Emotional Intelligence 101.   You can enroll as an individual, or you can bring a team or any group to the course so that you can learn together.  
To learn more about how to get started in Emotional Intelligence 101for greater success, satisfaction and well-being– go to our website:  www.emotionalintelligenceinsights.com

Build Your Emotional Intelligence Muscles!

Emotional Intelligence skills–understanding and managing your own emotions, recognizing others’ emotions, interacting successfully with other people, and building resilience–can all be improved.

Like any skill–developing a great golf swing, sketching a decent portrait, adding a killer serve to your tennis game, or learning to read Mandarin Chinese–learning Emotional Intelligence skills takes time, practice, and motivation.

Now you can learn and practice the Emotional Intelligence skills that will result in your greater success, satisfaction, and well-being.  The new online course, EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE 101, available anytime, anywhere at your convenience, helps you build your “Emotional Intelligence muscles” through engaging text, photos, videos, reflections, and exercises including more than 40 practical suggestions for building Emotional Intelligence skills.

You CAN build your Emotional Intelligence skills.  Read more and try a sample lesson at www.emotionalintelligenceinsights.com or go directly to the (free) sample lesson:  https://ruzuku.com/courses/1376/enroll.  Discounts available for teams/groups of 8 or more.