Help Your Client Build Emotional Intelligence to Become a Rock Star at Work!
January 25, 2024 by Amy LaCasse
As a coach, you’ve likely had clients come to you for support with all sorts of situations at work, whether it’s dealing with a challenging boss, an aggravating colleague, frustration at being passed over for promotions, feeling powerless due to low pay…the list goes on. But how often have you had a client approach you with the explicit goal of developing their emotional intelligence at work?
You can bring immense value to your clients by engaging in exploration of emotional intelligence and the ways that it influences success and satisfaction at work.
What exactly is Emotional intelligence?
The concept of emotional intelligence gained traction in 1995 when Daniel Goldman published his groundbreaking book, Emotional Intelligence and Why It Matters More than IQ. From his work, an understanding of emotional intelligence emerged as the ability to understand and manage one’s own emotions while also understanding the emotions of others. Within this definition are five key elements:
- Self-Awareness: Ability to recognize one’s current emotional state and what has led to feeling this way.
- Self-Regulation: Ability to control unexpected or unsettling emotions while being able to sustain a positive outlook.
- Motivation: Inner passion that drives outward activities.
- Empathy: Ability to sense other people’s emotions, while also being able to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.
- Social Skills: Ability of the individual to find common ground with other people in different circumstances and use their views about the world to build relationships.
How Emotional Intelligence Plays out at Work
Consider for a moment what great leaders have in common. Someone with the ability to make quick decisions while remaining calm under immense pressure may come to mind. Appearing self-assured but never arrogant, and always seeming to have the time to listen and provide direction. This imaginary leader may also know how to encourage change without making their employees feel disempowered. Aside from being enviable qualities, these are suggestive of a leader with high emotional intelligence. And, not surprisingly, years of research continues to point emphatically to one trait that predicts being a top leader: emotional intelligence.
You don’t have to be an executive coach to help your clients succeed at work.
Leadership and executive coaches leverage these concepts of emotional intelligence as they work with their clients in improving work outcomes. Even if your client isn’t in a leadership position, they can still lead their own career trajectory and choices they make. As their coach, you can help them achieve insight into their emotions, which can lead to decreased workplace conflict, improved performance, and increased opportunities for promotion.
You may already be using some of the tools below, and now you can laser focus with the intent of building emotional intelligence!
6 Tools to Build Emotional Intelligence
- Values Clarification: Helping your clients better understand their values inevitably leads to self-awareness. Your clients can more easily recognize situations that are incongruent with their values and why they find themselves reacting in the ways they do at work.
- Challenge Assumptions: Your client likely has assumptions around emotion, and ways they should or shouldn’t be expressed in the workplace. Invite your client to choose a difficult emotion they are experiencing at work and the false beliefs they have related to that emotion, eg., “People will think I’m weak if I show vulnerability.” Then, explore: What are the consequences of this belief? What would they like the consequences to be?
- Self-Reflection through powerful questions about ability to recognize emotions in oneself, and in others.
Client’s own emotions: How do I identify my feelings? How well am I able to notice when I am feeling happy, angry, bored, etc? What are some emotions that I experience more frequently than others? What is my relationship with emotions?
Ability to perceive and understand emotions of those around them: How do I recognize situations in which I may have offended a colleague? What are some cues I can look for to help me identify emotions of others?
Ability to regulate emotions: How do I know when I am becoming angry? How would I like to feel instead? What are some ways that I can get myself to my desired mental state?
- Examine Perspectives: Walk your client through recognizing and naming several perspectives they find themselves in across various situations at work. Bringing attention to these perspectives increases self-awareness and provides opportunities to choose a desired perspective. This also explores the ability to self-regulate and increase empathy as your client chooses to shift perspectives.
- Journaling: In session, have your client select a desired mental state, or alternatively, a current state they are hoping to better understand. In between sessions, have your client write down situations in which they recognized a particular emotion, as well as the self-talk that followed. During your next coaching session, explore what they noticed, what they learned about themselves, and what they would like to incorporate more/less of at work.
- Emotional Intelligence Assessments: Standardized emotional intelligence tools increase understanding of strengths, weaknesses, and potential blind spots in the emotional arena. You may choose to invest in training to administer an executive coaching tool such as the Myers Briggs EQ 2.0, or there are lots of free online assessments that will work for your clients. Assessments can be taken between sessions, with a review of results during the session for a deeper understanding.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to guide your clients toward understanding and harnessing their emotional intelligence at work. Don’t be surprised when you have clients reporting more success stories and satisfaction at work!
About the author:
Amy LaCasse is a proud Coach Training EDU graduate and Board Certified Coach. Specializing in career coaching, she empowers her clients as they navigate transitions, triumphs, and tribulations in their professional lives. When not working at her day job as a community college disability specialist, Amy can be found reading, checking out a new nature trail, or continuing her world travels in search of the perfect cup of coffee.
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