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.

What Can I Do About Low Emotional Intelligence?

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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: or contact us at  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.

Do You Have A Professional Bully in Your Organization?

If you are in a law firm, this person may bring in the most lucrative accounts.  If you work in a hospital or clinic, this may be a surgeon who brings a lot of high cost cases to your operating rooms.  If you are in insurance or financial services, this person may be super productive in bringing in new clients.  If you’re in real estate, this person may be among the top sales people month after month.  If you are employed at a college or university, this person could even be the president who is full of ideas and plans.
Professional Bullies can be found in dental offices, in the board rooms of corporations, on city councils, and even in non-profit organizations.  They can be found in manufacturing, in drug research, in publishing, and in government.  They are often productive and seem focused on the organization’s “bottom line.”
The only problem with these Professional Bullies is that they treat other people in the organization with disrespect—making outrageous demands on assistants or nurses, for example, verbally abusing or belittling those they supervise, and flatly rejecting any suggestion that they might consider modifying their behavior.  They create toxic environments and can make everyone else quite miserable.  When a Professional Bully takes over, morale sinks.
What is the most emotionally intelligent course of action when you realize you have a Professional Bully in your organization?
A.  Avoid this person whenever possible, and keep your mouth shut whenever the bully is in your environment.
B.  Complain and commiserate with other employees to feel that you are not alone in realizing that this person is a bully.
C.  Take your case against the bully to your boss or to the HR department.
D.  Stand up to the bully when he/she treats you or another person with blatant disrespect.
Answer:  The most emotionally intelligent answer is D:  Stand up to the Bully!
The Professional Bully is actually a type we’ve all known at some time in our past.  The Professional Bully is simply a bully—possibly a smart, hardworking, driven, and productive person—but a bully nevertheless.  And the proven best way of dealing with a bully is to speak up when the bullying begins—whether the bully is on the playground or inhabits your office environment.  
It is your silence that makes you complicit in the bullying, and it is your silence that allows the bully to continue treating other people with disrespect.  It takes courage to confront a bully because he or she seems to have an uncanny power to make other people remain silent, to look away, even to laugh at the bully’s victims.   In addition, the Professional Bully can point to his or her financial successes to ward off criticism and keep people in line.
But the benefits that the Professional Bully brings to the organization in terms of clients and money is outweighed by the negatives—damage to the morale and resonance of the organization.  This is the truth that needs to be spoken.
Standing up to a bully takes considerable emotional intelligence: 
·         First you need strong awareness of the self, of what you are feeling and why: This manager is being abusive, and I feel angry! 
·         You will also need to tap into your self-managementskills:  I’m able to anticipate this bully’s out-of-control response, and I’m prepared to call a halt to this behavior. 
·         Your ability to be aware of the feelings ofothers and to use that awareness for a successful interaction with the bully will also be needed: I can see that you are really upset about how slow things seem to be going, but I can tell you that these staff members are working as hard as they can, and yelling at them is counterproductive for all of us.
·         And finally, you will need to rely on your own resilience, your ability to maintain your own balance and equanimity even as the bully creates an atmosphere of terror and uncertainty in the workplace, causing people to remain silent or simply make an exit.
It’s not easy to stand up to a bully on the playground when you are ten years old, and it’s not easy when you face an executive bully when you are an adult, but in either case, if you remain silent, nothing will change.  Developing emotional intelligence skills, such as greater self-awareness, self-management, awareness of others, interaction with others, and resilience can help you cope successfully with Professional Bully behaviors in your organization. 

Eight Ways to Enhance Interpersonal Relationships in the Workplace


“No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main…” The seventeenth-century poet John Donne wrote these words as part of a series of meditations as he was recovering from a life-threatening illness.  
While a serious illness or some other life-altering event such as the loss of a loved one, a divorce, a move to a new city may make us pause and think about the profound importance of the other people in our lives, most of us are aware that our relationships have a lot to do with how happy or unhappy we are.   We know now that the ability to have good interactions with others helps define us as emotionally intelligent human beings.  All models of emotional intelligence include this measure, but what can we do to enhance our interpersonal relationships?
Benefits of Strong Interpersonal Relationships in the Workplace
Satisfying human relationships can greatly enhance the quality of our lives—and this is as true in the workplace as any other aspect of our lives.  Although many of us spend a majority of our time in the workplace, we may not recognize the tremendous significance of our everyday interchanges with colleagues. 
In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs, acceptance and belongingness come right after the basic physiological and safety needs. When there is a culture of trust and openness in the workplace, executives, managers, and employees can all feel that they “belong,” that they are accepted, and that their contribution is significant. 
But there’s more.   When we feel that we are accepted and respected within the workplace culture, we  can gain inspiration and support among colleagues.  We can experience that distinctive enjoyment that results from being understood by another human being.  And we can be pleasantly surprised at the result of interweaving our own ideas and perspectives with those of others. 
Self-Actualization, Creativity, and Innovation
A sense of belonging is also necessary for a attaining a higher-level need—that of self-actualization, the ability of an individual to reach for and realize his or her potential.   In today’s workplace, collaboration and teamwork are highly valued.  We know that working together often leads to greater productivity and the fulfillment of an organization’s strategic objectives.  But perhaps more importantly, the sense of connection to others provides individuals with a solid footing that encourages them to be creative and innovative beyond mere expectations.  
So what can we do to encourage better interpersonal relationships in the workplace? 
Below are some simple suggestions for increasing your ability to relate to others in the workplace.  If you are seeking to enhance this competency  and to raise the level of your Emotional Intelligence, try out one or two of these in your workplace environment.  Then just observe the effect that your action has on your interpersonal relationships.
1.  Seek to increase diversity.  No, this is not a new idea.  As a nation, we’ve been working at this for many  years, and the numbers of women, minorities, and other underrepresented groups in the workplace have grown.  But we sometimes forget just how limiting the old boy network was, and how easy it is to fall into hiring people who look and sound like ourselves.  A true appreciation of diversity will include a broad spectrum of the categories we insist on placing people in—gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, culture, religion, political perspective, and educational background.
2.  Make each communication meaningful. John Donne would be astonished to know how many ways we have to communicate in the 21st century.  As an observer of the human heart, however, he might not be so surprised to find that despite all our technological gadgets, we are still learning how to communicate in ways that truly connect us. Try thinking of each communication in your day—whether by telephone, email, an informal chat, or a presentation at a formal meeting—as an opportunity to connect with another person. Recognize that emotions are the true currency of such communication.
3.  Be curious.   Developing (or perhaps it is simply remembering) our inborn sense of curiosity about people, events, and objects can greatly increase our connections to our colleagues while also broadening and deepening our perspective about the world.  Every person you work with has a story.  Being curious about even a part of that story—what that person at the next desk is passionate about, where that person who works down the hall went on vacation, how the hospitalization of a spouse or child has affected yet another colleague—can result in increasing your own empathy but also in building strong connections and support networks.
4.  Experiment with providing appreciation, interest, and service.  Expressing your appreciation of even the more or less expected work of a colleague—whether a boss, a peer, or someone you supervise—can result in much more than continued good work.  The connections forged through demonstrating genuine interest or in performing acts of service for others in the workplace are in themselves valuable.  By becoming interested in others, you will create new pathways for the neurons in your own brain, enriching your satisfaction and your experience of the world. 
5.  Share an experience that is not work-related.  A team can prepare and consume a meal together.  Several people can team up to introduce ideas for recycling or promoting physical fitness.  Plan a brown bag lunch in which one or more colleagues shares an interest outside of work—a passion for opera, or soccer, or bird watching, or travel, or a service organization’s project. The possibilities for learning something are endless, and the connections you form with others by listening to them are perhaps even more valuable.
6.  Involve others in decisions.   While we may all be a bit cynical about the political polls that seem to be ubiquitous in these months before a major election, the idea of polling can help us recognize that the very act of asking people about their opinions can provoke them into thinking about an idea that they hadn’t really considered.  In the workplace, asking people for their ideas and opinions, especially if they will feel the effects of a decision, can result in increased options, greater understanding of the issues, and enhanced interpersonal relationships.  Of course, any decision must then be followed up with both appreciation and feedback.
7.  Provide a gift of the senses .  We are familiar with this idea in romantic relationships.  We give flowers, candy, perfume—all intended to please the senses of the recipient.  In the workplace, which is often a rather sterile environment, people appreciate those things that please their senses even in very small ways.  With a bit of increased awareness, you can add pleasurable sensations that will be acknowledged at some level in others’ brains.  Such “gifts” can include a smile (vision),  a few flowers from your garden (smell and vision), a plate of cookies (taste),  a brief touch (oh yes, we have to be careful these days—but an appropriate touch on the arm or shoulder can be powerful) , a genuine laugh, or a shared piece of music (hearing).  All of these “gifts” will influence the recipients to experience positive feelings.
8.  Avoid or minimize reactions to those who complain, gossip, attack, blame, or suddenly explode.  It seems that every workplace has one or more of these characters.  Some of them are executives, some are managers, some are employees—and all are difficult to work with.  We’ve all wondered how best to deal with such people.  It is worth repeating the truism here that it is not in our power to change them, but it is in our power to choose our reactions to them.  One technique for changing our own reactions is to search for even a tiny bit of empathy for what that person is experiencing internally. 
As John Donne knew way back in the seventeenth century, we are all connected.  By increasing our ability to relate to each other, we contribute to a more emotionally intelligent world.  Who will you connect with today?