Can You Really Boost Your Emotional Intelligence by Attending a Workshop?

January 8, 2011 § 4 Comments

Reuven BarOn, Daniel Goleman, Richard Boyatzis  and others have shown that emotional and social intelligence accounts more for success in life than smarts.  There is a growing consensus that EI competencies can be developed (whereas IQ is fixed by the time we are 15 years old).  EI is a major topic of interest in leadership development.  In fact, according to an ASTD report, 80% of companies are trying to promote and develop EI with their employees, particularly through training and developement, evaluating performance, and in hiring practices.

But can attending an EI workshop really effect your development of EI leadership competencies?  This question was studied and reported in the Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations (Demystifying the EI Quick Fix, Laurie Carrick, Training & Development, Nov. 2010).  Participants from a variety of  companies and organizations took the EQ-i assessment then attended a ½ day workshop where feedback was given to each person on their level of EI.  During the workshop, participants learned about the components of EI and their importance in the management of people.  A key component of the session had participants focus on the few, leveraged EI competencies they wanted to improve (ie: assertiveness, empathy, impulse control, … ) and had them set specific goals, objectives and action plans for personal change.  Post training coaching was provided. Also, a three month post  EQ-i  assessment was administered to determine if any change actually happened.

The Findings:   If post-training coaching reinforcement doesn’t happen, it’s likely that improvement of your EI competenies will not happen. Participants in the ½ day session gained awareness of EI and their personal level of competence in EI, but that was not enough to cement personal change.  Only 27% achieved improvements on a few of the competencies.  The good news is that the combination of WORKSHOP + POST-COACHING sessions worked.  When the post-coaching sessions specifically focused on follow through of action plans, that was enough to help a significant number of people achieve their goals.

Take Away: If you want to improve your EI as a result of attending a workshop, you’d best set yourself up with post-session coaching.

How to Set-Up Your Own,  Zero-Cost, Peer Coaching, Follow-Up (Adapted from the work of Marshall Goldsmith)

1.    Find a partner in the workshop who will commit to being your Peer Coach for the next 90 days.

2.    Each of you develop a  list of 10-20 MEANINGFUL, GOAL RELATED, DAILY QUESTIONS you will have the other person ask you, on the phone, each day for the next 90 days. These will be short calls – only a couple of minutes/call – and it’s best to work off a fixed, daily time if possible.  The questions will be different for each of you because you are working towards different EI objectives.  Note that the questions will only elicit a ‘Yes/“No” answer, or a #.  For example:

For working on ASSERTIVENESS: “If you disagreed with your boss today, were you able to tell her?”   “How many times did you stand up for your needs today?” . . .

For working on EMPATHY“How many times were you able to reflect back another’s feelings?” . . .

For working on IMPULSE CONTROL: On a 1-10 scale, how well were you able to control your anger today?”   “How many times did you interrupt someone while they were speaking?”. . .

3.    No discussions, no elaborations.  Don’t make negative feedback comments or any comments that might produce feelings of guilt in the other person.  It’s OK to make short positive comments to reinforce successes and positive trends.

4.     Consider adding questions that touch on different areas of your life (“Did you tell your spouse you loved them?” How many sit-ups did you do today?” “Did you eat well?”)

5.     At the end of asking questions of each other, simply say thanks and confirm tomorrow’s call time.  If you miss a session, just pick it up the next day.

That’s it!

Specificity of  an objective, and being held accountable to a living, breathing, human being are the secret sauce to successful personal change.   Every gym trainer knows this.  Besides having my clients practice this – and seeing success – I’m a user myself.

Good Luck!


§ 4 Responses to Can You Really Boost Your Emotional Intelligence by Attending a Workshop?

  • Wilton Thornburg says:

    I found the three articles you’ve posted so far to be well written, well thought out, and well researched. Good job! I’ll share them with people at work.

  • Glen MacMillan says:

    First I absolutely believe you can develop your EI after attending the workshop. As thinking, breathing humans once we are made aware of the situation and are given the skills it becomes a matter of will. As is said, “where there is a will there is a way”. I question that it takes 90 days. I’ve heard that a habit can be formed in something like 21 days. Hopefully this is true for the shorter duration will likely make more of us students successful in developing and maintaining our new&improved EI.

  • Gretchen Cherington says:

    I’ve also heard the 21 day rule – perhaps even from Marshall. But I think it has a lot to do with how well focused the goal is and how few goals one is working on. What’s been your experience, Allen?

    • Well . . . .Outward Bound has the 28 day model . . . . the 90 days is from Marshall Goldsmith’s work. I think that, like you say, the number of days needed depends on focus or specificity of the change – and how much of a threshold do you have to climb over to cement a changed behavior

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