Is Emotional Intelligence Something You Can Learn?

I am currently in Barcelona with my wife on a five week holiday in Europe. So, I thought I would use this picture of the Foundation Antonia Tapies, one of the more famous Modernista buildings of Barcelona. I thought the sculpture on the roof a great representation of many people’s brains when they think of emotional intelligence particularly when they want to learn about it.

This was the title of an interesting blog published by Psychology Today on 8 June 2019 written by Susan Kraus Whitbourne. It summarises the work of Victoria Maddingly and Kurt Kreiger who academics at Colorado State University. Speaking as someone who runs Emotional Intelligence workshops and coaches people to improve their emotional intelligence I am pleased to report the researchers answered in the positive.

One question the researchers tried to answer is, if EI can be trained, how can you improve yours? According to the researchers the first component of a successful EI program is that you are given the opportunity to discuss the ideas offered in training with your fellow learners. Being able to apply new ideas to your life and share your thoughts with others can give you the chance to test whether these ideas are going to work. If you are picking an EI program, or one is being offered at your workplace or other setting, find out how much of the training will involve this peer-to-peer interaction. In my programs I make extensive use of case studies and videos where the participants discuss the core emotional drives of the people participating in the videos. Within the day they are accurately working out the dominant temperament traits in the various case studies.

The second, related, component of successful EI training involves being able to practice your ideas in between sessions through talking to others and getting feedback on the new approaches you are trying to use in your everyday life. Again in my courses one of my key tools is the TOPDOG mnemonic. This stands for Talk-Organisation-Position-Dress-Office-Gambit and is a wonderful tool for improving your cognitive empathy. Indeed the National Sales Director of Chinese Multinational who has put his salespeople through Empathy Selling courses has described it as the most useful tool in the training program. (If you want to read more about TOPDOG down load this free white paper.)

One of core suggestions made to participants in our workshops is to go to joint meetings with another participant and then afterwards use TOPDOG to establish the core emotional drives of the other people. Again practice makes perfect but it is surprising how fast people learn the technique.
In my coaching sessions I have found the most useful people to analyse are politicians. Fortunately, in Australia with six Prime Ministers in 12 years we have had plenty of material.

This blog was first published on LinkedIn on 16 June 2019


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Chris Golis - Author


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Your presentation on 'Lifting your Level of Emotional Intelligence" to 10 CEOs scored an average 8.9 out of 10 for the topic and 8.5 for the presentation which is great. A couple of the attendees gave you a 10 out of 10, and the comments were:

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