Build Your Emotional Intelligence Muscle!

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 self-directed, 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.  Learn more at  Discounts available for teams/groups of 8 or more.

Eight Ways to Improve Your Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundational building block of Emotional Intelligence.  The first step in enhancing or building your overall Emotional Intelligence is achieving a healthy level of self-awareness—which is the ability to identify emotions in the self and to perceive the impact you have on others at home, in the workplace, within the local community, and beyond that if you happen to have a wider sphere of influence.  
More specifically, being self-aware means that you can
  • identify your own feelings
  • recognize how people perceive you
  • recognize how you respond to people in a variety of situations
  • identify your intent and attitude as you communicate with others
Following are a few practical suggestions for enhancing your Emotional Intelligence skills in self-awareness.
1.  Take a few minutes to list the feelingsyou had in a single day–or a week, if you have time for that!
The ability to identify how you are feeling is the first step in managing (not “controlling”) your emotions.  It’s not always easy to identify what you are feeling, especially if you experience more than one emotion–anger and love for a wayward teenager for example.  By writing down your feelings, you may see a pattern emerge, and that recognition will help you grow in self-awareness.
2.  At your next meeting (with an individual or with a group), observe the impact that your words, facial expressions, tone of voice, and body language have on others.
Try out your powers of observation!  Take close notice of how the other person’s facial expression and body language change as you are speaking.  Then, at another meeting, try doing one thing differently–perhaps speaking in a softer tone, for example.  Or looking more directly at the person as you speak.  Can you notice any change?
3.  Ask a trusted colleague to be a “shadow coach” to observe you and then give you constructive feedback about your interactions, your facial expressions, and your body language.
Being aware of how you feel and how others perceive you is a foundational aspect of Emotional Intelligence.  Hiring a coach or just asking someone you trust to observe you in meetings, for example, can provide you with new information about how your words, expressions, behaviors, and decisions affect the people you work with every day. 
4.  Participate in a 360-degree feedback survey with your colleagues, boss, and direct reports to compare how you perceive your behavior and actions with how others perceive those same behaviors and actions.
It takes courage to participate in a 360-degree feedback survey, but you will learn a great deal about how others see you–and increase your awareness of self.  Do others feel that you have what it takes to be a leader?  Are you an empathetic listener?  Do you seem indecisive to those around you?  Can people trust you to do what you say you will do?
5.  Before a presentation, video yourself as you practice speaking before a group.
What do your facial expressions, your body language, and your voice say about you when you speak at a meeting, during a discussion, or presenting at a conference?  Be your own helpful observer and critic as you watch a video of your rehearsal.  You will learn some interesting things about yourself and how you come across to others.
6.  After a difficult encounter with an employee, take time to analyze what you are feeling.
Being aware of what you are feeling as you are feeling it is the first step to being able to manage that feeling.  Pay attention to what your body is telling you (upset stomach?  headache?  hands shaking?) as you try to name the feeling.  There are over 3000 words in the English language to describe feelings–but we use so few of them!
7.  Take time to list your values (adventure, connection, peace, financial security?)–whatever matters most to you–for the next “chapter” of your life.
Taking the time to list your values for “the next chapter” (that can be six months, six years, however you define it) can help you gain clarity around what is really important to you.  Any decision you make, whether concerning relationships, business, or what to do in your free time is more likely to be informed by these values if you’ve taken the time to think about them and write them down. 
8.  Take a survey of your strengths and plan to consciously use them more on a daily basis.
There are any number of surveys that you can buy or find on the Internet for free.  Try taking the VIA Survey of Character Strengths at:  Knowing and using your strengths can be just as important as improving upon those areas where you are weak.
These suggestions are excerpted from our soon-to-be-released online, self-paced course, Emotional Intelligence 101, which provides an introduction to the concepts of Emotional Intelligence, a brief self-assessment, and many practical suggestions for strengthening skills in all dimensions of Emotional Intelligence.  The course uses photos, videos, and fun exercises to engage participants in a dynamic learning environment.   Email me if you want to be contacted when the course if available:  

Seven Ways to Increase Your Influence

Are you the kind of person that other people listen to in group meetings?  Do you find that your ideas are picked up and accepted or built upon by others on your team?  Does it happen often that after you have contributed an idea that someone says, “Great idea!  I’d like to see us do that!” ?
Or do you sit in meetings feeling frustrated because no one seems to acknowledge or understand what you have suggested?  Has it ever happened that your contribution was ignored but someone else later put forth the same idea with some slight alteration, and you got no credit for having the idea in the first place?   Does it often happen that someone says in reply to your idea, “We’ve already tried that, and it didn’t work” or simply ignored what you said and went on to something else? 
Knowing how to influence others is a necessary skill for managers and leaders.  Influence is not manipulation, and it is not “phony.”    Influence is the ability to communicate the vision or concept in your mind in such a way that your audience will be receptive to hearing it, give it adequate consideration, and make up their own minds about the idea—perhaps modifying the idea as they brainstorm about it. 
So what can you do to enhance your influence and see your ideas given due consideration?  
1.       Be aware of your audience—others on your team or committee.  Anticipate what the reaction—and possible objections—might be to your idea.   If there is someone who you think will have a negative reaction, visit with that person before the meeting to talk one-on-one. 
2.       Be clear about your intended outcome.  Ask yourself what you really want to convey and what you want the group to do in response.  Is it necessary that they agree with everything you say—or that they take the idea seriously enough to discuss it further?  
3.       Time your contribution.  If you are going into a meeting that already has an agenda as long as your arm, chances are it is not a good time to bring up a new idea.  On the other hand, if the group seems to be looking for a solution to a particular problem, and you have a reasonable idea to resolve it, you will have a better chance of being heard.
4.       Listen and collaborate.  Listening carefully to the concerns of others means that you cannot just be thinking and waiting to pounce with your own idea.  Instead, as you listen, ask if your idea might address any of those concerns.  Or can you add to someone else’s idea—first giving them credit for that idea—and then building your concept on to it?
5.       Become more self-aware.  Try stepping outside yourself a bit at the next meeting you attend.  Watch yourself speaking to the group, and observe the reactions of others.  Who do you make eye contact with?  Who do you avoid looking at?  Who seems to be listening?  Who seems distracted or hostile?  If you cannot be an objective observer of yourself, find a trusted friend who can give you feedback.
6.       Observe a skilled influencer.  Who is the person that everyone seems to listen to at meetings?  Observe how this person introduces a new topic or builds upon one that is already on the table.  How does he or she appeal to group members?  How does he or she acknowledge the ideas of others and perhaps build upon them?
7.       Try a little empathy.   Different personality types take in information in different ways and at different rates.  Some people need time for reflection before making a decision one way or another; others will be impulsive and take on a new idea without much thought.  Some want only logic and objectivity in the ideas presented;  others will need a more personal touch with attention paid to how an idea will affect the people involved.