Tag Archives: psychology

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?


This is part 1 in a series on how to create the perfect team.

One of the fastest growing areas in business psychology and sociology right now is emotional intelligence. EI refers to a person’s ability to observe, relate to, and accurately discern the social and situational cues around them – and to react to and utilize those variables constructively. If this is a new term for you and you are actively in the business and/or leadership development business (and honestly – who isn’t?!), you need to spend some time learning about EI! Many leading experts on EI – such as Daniel Goleman – have linked EI to a person’s social, professional, and leadership success.

Forward-thinking businesses are beginning to actively seek out employees who have a high EQ. This can be done through group interviews (versus more traditional individual interviews), scenario-based questions, and active coaching around EI traits. Almost gone are the days where someone could achieve a position in a company based solely on their academic prowess…which brings me to the purpose of this article.

Many people are beginning to ask “Can EI be taught.” And – if so – how can we increase this in the people around and underneath us? The NY Times has recently published a very respectable article on this. 

Clearly EI is a big deal and is something we all need in order to succeed. What do you think? Can EI be taught? And, if so, how?



Filed under business, communication, leadership, observation

How to Be A Not-PO’d-Leader


Leaders have egos and therefore have some awesome emotions. Sometimes these emotions are positive but sometimes they can be negative. As you can imagine, leaders need to keep these emotions in check.

Daniel Goleman recently wrote an article about how to do this. I recommend giving this a read:

Emotional hijacks – this priming, this mechanism, which is usually so positive in evolution – can take us over. During these hijacks we can become very angry. When the dust settles we often think, “Oh, why did I say that?”

I spoke with Paul Ekman for my Wired to Connect CD Knowing our Emotions, Improving Our World, about how to identify emotional triggers. One of his recommendations: simply keep a record of your hijacked moments. Here’s what he had to say.

You know I have ambivalent feelings about the term hijack because in some sense it absolves us of responsibility. If someone hijacks us, “Well, it’s not my fault.” Okay, but it is. It is our responsibility to learn to become emotionally intelligent. These are skills, they’re not easy, nature didn’t give them to us – we have to learn them.

I recommend in my book Emotions Revealed that people keep a log of regrettable angry episodes. Write down just what it was about, how it happened, what set you off, and what did you do that you think you shouldn’t have done.

After you’ve got 30 or 40 of them, try to see the commonality in the triggers and responses. You’ll usually find a particular script that underlies what’s causing you to have a particular perception on certain situations, to cast people into roles that they really aren’t in, and to try to replay a plot that doesn’t really fit.”

How do you recognize and manage triggers? Share your advice in the comments below.

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Filed under leadership, motivation

The Power Of De-Personalized Statements – Communicating Effectively


Someone once taught me a great skill: De-Personalizing statements in touchy situations to be more effective in communication. In other words, there are multiple ways to communicate but some ways are more effective than others.

Situation: Joey is an employee who doesn’t seem engaged in his job. You observe him avoiding customers and texting his friends during his shifts – instead of doing his jobs.

Bad example of communication: “Joey, why don’t you care about your job? You need to focus and work harder.” – even though a lot of this may be valid, it’s incredibly abrasive and probably won’t create bridges towards a solution.

Better example of communication: “Joey, we’ve gone over the policy around texting on your shift. When you continue to do this and you avoid customers, it makes me feel like you don’t care about this job. Do you understand how it might seem that way?….”

Bottom line: The phrase structure of “When you…… It makes me feel……” is a priceless, valuable, and engaging way to create room for discussion. Give it a shot, whether in your professional life or even in some frustrating situations in your social or personal life.

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Filed under communication