Recently on Linked In, a question was asked regarding emotional intelligence and how to enhance it. I was taken by this question as I am a student of this concept and have spent considerable time in my career learning (often the hard way) how to improve my emotional intelligence abilities. This also is one of a number of critical aspects of effective leadership. In my research of emerging leadership attributes I found that decisiveness, integrity, emotional intelligence and communication skill. We discussed integrity a few times already (756 Homeruns and Adversity and Integrity) . In future posts we will talk about communication (one form of which is this blog) as well as decisiveness. In the meantime emotional intelligence...
There are a few things that I recommend to enhance emotional intelligence when coaching others. My focus is primarily on improving self management and awareness of interactions with others.
On interacting with others
1. I recommend that you find someone who can provide trusted candid feedback. There is no better way to gain an understanding of how you interact with others than to get a trusted external perspective.
2. I recommend that you pay attention to body language. Take an introductory course in Neuro Linguistic Programming, or read a book on the subject so you can be more aware of others reactions and their potential meaning. Then, with those you have a good working relationship with, when you see an unfamiliar physical reaction stop. Consider what you have just said. Did you say something that could have been misinterpreted, something insensitive, something callous? If so apologize. I am sorry that did not come out right what I meant was...
3. Ask people you know to be more emotionally intelligent for feedback and help in understanding others reactions.
4. Lead a volunteer group and pay attention to how group members react to your behaviors. They best part of volunteers is they can vote with their feet. They are not paid to be there or to follow you. You have to learn how to lead in a way that meets their needs of a leader or they will leave. This is a great arena to hone your skills.
The most important aspect of self management is to be aware of your own behaviors in the moment. Pay attention to your own emotions; learn to recognize the signs of an approaching emotional state and what triggers it. For instance when I am about to get angry I can feel my head getting warmer as the blood rushes to my brain. When I sense this coming I look for the trigger and then force myself to breathe. Breathing gives me a moment to think and gain control of myself before an unwanted reflexive reaction can take over
The other practice I recommend is to play back your interactions with others paying attention to how you behaved and how you felt. Again the intent here is to understand your normal reaction patterns and see the signs of their approach. I then ask what could I have done differently in that situation that would have achieved a different better outcome.