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.

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. 

For Leaders: Sixteen Way to Develop Empathy

Empathy, one of the competencies of emotional intelligence, is defined as the ability to be aware of, to understand and to appreciate the feelings and thoughts of others.  We expect family and friends to empathize as they listen to us.  We pay therapists to skillfully listen with empathy.  What should we expect of our leaders?  
As a quality of leadership, empathy is critical to success.  Empathy may, indeed, prove to be the most significant skill of leadership. Try this experiment: 
Think about the leader you most admire. Describe what you admire about him or her.  Does the following description fit that individual?
People for whom empathy is a strength will generally interact well with others one-on-one, and they also work effectively in cooperative efforts.  They will probably avoid hurting others’ feelings. 
And does the following describe those leaders whom you do not so much admire? 
People who are low in empathy often have difficulty understanding what others are feeling and thinking, and in giving due consideration to those feelings and thoughts.  As a result, these leaders are often involved in misunderstandings and strained relationships. 
Of course most leaders probably fall somewhere in the middle of the curve in their ability to empathize.  But what is it that makes some more willing than others to “walk in another’s moccasins” and allow the feelings and thoughts of others to affect them and the decisions they make? 
Why do some leaders tend toward empathy, toward understanding others’ feelings and acting in a way that takes those feelings into account?  Why do other leaders tend to be oblivious to what others are feeling and thinking?  The answers to these questions are not simple, and both nature and nurture surely play a role.  In developing as a leader, it is more important for you to know that empathy, like other emotional intelligence competencies, can be learned
Typically, if you are a generally emotionally stable person, your empathy has been increasing as you have grown older.  If you reflect on your life, you will probably realize that your experiences, whether in “real life” or in reading about others, of new situations and of people who are different than you—in age, in gender, in skin color, in ability, in sexual orientation, in religious beliefs, in nationality—have increased your store of empathy.  Once you can put an individual human face on one of these “differences,” your empathy expands. 
But there is more you can actually choose to do, actions you can take to increase your empathy and your ability to connect with colleagues, with bosses, and with those you supervise.  Working with a coach, attending workshops, or doing some reading on your own are all ways to increase your own empathy.  Here is just a brief list of possibilities.
§  Make a habit of expressing your appreciation of others every day
§  Ask yourself, “What is this person feeling?” especially in those sticky situations
§  Be true to your promises to others
§  Become aware of the impact you have on others (keep a log!)
§  Identify and support a project that provides service to others who are in need
§  Learn to listen by reflecting thoughts and feelings back to others
§  Read widely to include perspectives of others who live or have lived lives very different from yours
§  Ask gentle questions:  What can I do for you?  What do you need?
§  Become an observer of how people express their feelings—including body language and other non-verbal communication
§  Build a work culture that is emotionally safe and friendly
§  Ask for feedback about your behavior, decisions, and words (perhaps through a 360 degree feedback instrument)
§  Attempt to see a tough situation from another’s perspective
§  Develop a sincere interest in other people by asking yourself what they have to teach you
§  Be willing to share your passions and interests with others
§  Don’t be afraid to express what you think, what you feel, what you need
§  Take an EQ assessment to learn more about your own ability to empathize