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Article No.: 14-3, March 1, 2014

Article Title: Emotional Intelligence: The New Frontier of Human Potential

Author: Linda Gravett, Ph.D., SPHR, CEQC

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Think about your favorite teacher or trainer.  Did they leave you with information you can apply to your daily life?  Did they make you laugh, or make you think?  I’m betting that the reason this person left you with a positive impression is in part because of their Emotional Intelligence.Dr. Gravett photo
 
If educating or training others is one of your responsibilities, perhaps there is an area or two where you’d like to expand your competencies, such as getting off to a positive start, follow-up after training, or ensuring closure on key concepts.  This is a good thing:  self-awareness is one of the dimensions of Emotional Intelligence.
 
One of the challenges with instructing or training is obtaining participants’ buy-in of training objectives.  First, the trainer needs to believe in the message before participants will even be interested, let alone motivated to join in.  The Emotionally Intelligent educator or trainer is keenly aware of motivation principles, such as the fact that we all have unique motivators.  As a trainer, you can develop your awareness of others by asking potential workshop participants in advance what their expectations and challenges are around the topic.  When people get to talk about themselves and are clear that they’re going to have at least some of their concerns addressed, they’re much more likely to be engaged right from the beginning. 
 
Emotionally Intelligent educators and trainers strive to build trust between themselves and participants from the moment people enter the training environment.  One way to build trust is to be aware of trainees’ hot buttons, such as issues around compensation levels or ineffective supervisors.  Knowing when to avoid topics and when to include them in discussions is crucial to building trust. 
 
An Emotionally Intelligent trainer or educator is a change agent.  This is probably one of the riskiest aspects of training.  For example, perhaps your organization has some poor performers and their managers want to retain them anyway because finding replacements is time consuming.   As a trainer, you may be charged with the responsibility of magically turning poor performers into stellar employees.  An Emotionally Intelligent trainer will take steps to assess each individual situation and help the manager determine whether the true problem is a skill deficit, inadequate resources, or something else. 
 
A key to increasing Emotional Intelligence is recognizing and naming your own feelings.  Happiness, sadness, anger, fear, and shame are all dimensions of Emotional Intelligence that can surface during training.  You can learn to name and then manage your emotions by becoming accustomed to tuning in to the physical signs that accompany feelings, such as your neck turning red or clenching your fist.  You can also ask your friends and family to help you identify your emotional hot buttons.  My administrative assistant is the person who clued me in to the fact that, when I start to get angry, I clench my left fist.  Accept others’ feedback and look for these indicators in future interactions. 
 
I suggest that you write down the behaviors that allow your emotions to get the best of you and devise a plan to confront them.  Keeping a daily journal with your action plan is one helpful approach.
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