Learning Emotional Intelligence according to your Learning Style

Learning Emotional Intelligence according to your Learning Style

I’ve recently been engaging in a few Emotional Intelligence (henceforth EI) conversations on LinkedIn and it dawned in me that it might be helpful for people to see some tips for learning emotional intelligence according to their learning styles. For the sake of this article, let’s assume you already know what your learning style is. If you don’t already know what it is, the diagram to the right, which is based on Honey & Mumford Learning Style theories will help you determine what it (or they, if you have a blended approach to learning) is.

The next thing is to understand what EI is and which EI model is being referring to below. Salovey & Mayer (1990), prominent researchers in the field of EI defined emotional intelligence as “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s own thinking and action”. This line of work has helped us to understand that people vary in their capacity to recognise, comprehend, utilise, communicate and manage emotions and that these differences influence people’s performance in a variety of contexts, including relationships and work.

In 1999, Salovey, Mayer and Caruso developed a model that considers one’s ability as a set of competencies within the parameters of the above definition. This Ability Model presents 4 domains:

  • The ability to perceive emotions
  • The capacity to use emotions to facilitate thinking
  • The ability to understand emotions
  • The ability to manage (or regulate) emotions

The most recent model of emotional intelligence was developed by Petrides and his team in 2007 and consists of four components:

  • Wellbeing: Confidence & self-esteem, optimism, and happiness
  • Sociability: Social competence & awareness, assertiveness, and the capacity to manage other people’s emotions
  • Self-control: Stress management, low impulsivity, adaptability, self-motivation, and emotion regulation
  • Emotionality: Emotional perception of oneself and others, emotion expression, relationship, and conveying empathy.

It is this model, the Trait Emotional Intelligence model that I’m applying the Learning Styles to. Let’s explore how emotional intelligence can be learned according to your learning style. 

For the ACTIVISTS among you

The best way for activists to learn to perceive emotions, improve capacity to use emotions for thinking, and understand and manage emotions, is by experiencing these things personally and absorbing the lessons presented experientially. When those things are lived out in daily life or a life event, activists are better able to connect dots in their minds and hearts that were once hypothetical or assumptions-based about their emotional intelligence. Turning their personal EI into a life project or short-term practical assignment that is measurable and tangibly impactful is the most natural way for activists to develop those skills. Activists are generally self-development oriented, so they’ve got this motivation behind them.

A draw back with this learner style is that activists tend to look for the next big challenge without really having reflected on the learning from the previous lesson. Once this blind-spot has been recognised, it’s really important for the activist to take their time to reflect well, instill deep in themselves all the learning that they took out of those lessons, and to figure out how they can translate that learning into actions that improve their wellbeing, sociability, self-control and emotionality in the future. 

Here’s a few ideas for activists:

  • Take the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (short version) (you’ll need to make a £30 donation to the company) and then see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Decide what you might want to develop. Self-analysis is very important to do every 1-3 years of our life.
  • Seek feedback from others in order to gain wider perspective. You might come to an emotional conclusion on something that another has not come to the same emotional conclusion on. This requires real two-way communication.
  • This one will take a lot of humility, but it’s a super effective one: ask others to give you their opinion on your reactions to things. You will learn an awful lot, or an awful lot will be affirmed for you! This will serve to educate your self-control as well as your emotionality.
  • Perseverance is key for you to reach that potential for growth in emotional intelligence. Where the temptation is to skip onto the next thing that you might be good or better at, you are in the here and now… so don’t lose out on this opportunity that could potentially be a game-changer for you in the future. Think ‘slow down, reflect & absorb’.
  • Take responsibility for how you’ve made others feel. Then put into practice your action points. Here’s where you up your sociability game.
  • Connect with your own emotions, come to understand them in your inner reality and accept that they exist. People have different ways of doing that. My way is to shrug my shoulders, smile and say… OK! Well to wellbeing, I say!

For the REFLECTORS among you

Reflectors learn primarily through observing credible and experienced role-models. The method that works best for them is in-person but standing back from the action and pondering from the sidelines. They like to discuss reflections and plans with a mentor who they feel can walk the talk. Having said that, reflectors surprisingly also pick up these lessons from books, articles and case studies. As the most cautious and most reluctant risk-takers of all four types of learners, reflectors tend to come to emotional conclusions after they have had a good, long and thorough think-through of the situation, collecting and analysing as much data about the experience or event in order to come to the most informed decision possible. Is it any wonder they tend to make the best listeners, and be the last to speak in meetings and discussions! They’re often the last to jump to conclusions or make rash judgements too.

Because of their extremely cautious nature, reflectors may delay their learning in emotional intelligence. This is mainly due to the foreseeable risk-taking involved in being emotionally intelligent. Reflectors will understand well that emotional intelligence is proven in practice.

Here’s a few ideas for reflectors:

  • Start. Just start. Trust in your own abilities to learn along the way. Once you’ve started, don’t stop. Build up your courage to keep going. Learning by mistake is a much better outcome, than by not learning at all.
  • Approach role models for their stories and/or ask friends, family, acquaintances to share with you how they learned to manage risks, build confidence, become socially aware, develop self-control and regulate their emotions.
  • Watch YouTube videos on the subject.
  • Observe yourself as much as you observe others. Since reflectors generally love taking notes, note down how you react to people and how you make judgements about a situation. Reflectors tend to do really well with journaling.
  • Learn more about risk management.
  • Use your wonderful observational and reflection skills to spin the mirror on yourself. What are you learning about yourself? What needs working on, or a different approach? If there is a blockage on self-reflection: a) imagine this experience took place in third person (don’t habitualise this though) and write down your learnings, and b) address the inability to self-reflect.
  • Self-evaluate against the 2007 EI components above.

For the THEORISTS among you

Concepts. Theorists love to understand and rationalise concepts. Consider concepts and theories as the foundational building blocks to a Theorist’s learning. Anything nonsensical is often anathema to a Theorist, and therein lies a potentially huge problem since some of the most acute emotions we experience are seldom logical! So emotions can become a problem to be solved in the Theorist – and they’re likely to do that through theory-based courses with well-qualified and experienced trainers, well-written manuals or books and articles. Our Theorist friends are the most analytical and rationalistic of all four learning types because of how much they naturally value principles, theories, models and systems thinking. 

The greatest struggle for the Theorist when it comes to learning emotional intelligence is the two-way blind-spot of assimilation. Firstly, the theorist may automatically separate one’s own personal experience from the analysis – as if it were a hypothetical situation. Take for example, grief. To learn and grow from grief requires a genuine lived and felt experience of every nuance that comes as part and parcel of grief. Theorising the situation removes from it authentic human experience. Sometimes, the human experience is beyond theory and logic, so must be lived rather by mystery and what is super (above/beyond) – natural: supernatural. Secondly, should the theorist be able to rationalise the experience into a logical scheme and thought, the risk is to leave it as such, and not use this new-found knowledge to learn about oneself, and to reach the deep human lesson of the self from it. The potential detachment between theory and lived experienced, and discomfort caused by subjective judgement is something that theorists need to watch out for in their learning.

Here’s a few ideas for theorists:

  • Spend time, on occasion, focusing solely on knowing yourself. I’ll repeat that. Knowing yourself. Not rationalising yourself. Just… knowing yourself. There is a greater intimacy between knowing a person and rationalising a person. EI is personable. Yes, it might be unnatural at first… but build a routine habit of it. Getting to know yourself will be a huge step in learning EI.
  • Get in touch with your perception of the world – living and non-living things. This will boost your wellbeing and emotionality levels.
  • Yes, facts and the objective is very, very important. In fact, it’s critical. But so is the subjective experience – otherwise, how can one say something is ‘real’? Philosophers have spent many years exploring the balance between the intellect (the guiding force behind rational thought) and the will (the guiding force behind subjective experience).
  • Theorise on this: Realist Phenomenology
  • Find a way to systemise or analyse your emotional reactions over a longer period of time. Study the data, what does it reveal to you?
  • Even though you may be able to detach your subjective experience from a logical occurrence, it doesn’t mean that others can do that as easily. If for example at some point you’re perceived as ‘indifferent’ or ‘uncaring’, this is a sign or a signal that someone else’s feelings have been triggered or impacted by your actions or words at a deep emotional level.
  • Take responsibility for your words and actions, and make efforts to listen ‘to the heart’ of the people in your life. Learn to be sincere in your apologies.

For the PRAGMATISTS among you

Pragmatists who actively develop their EI are their own real-life project and are perhaps the most keen of all learning types on self-development and self-growth. Transforming their learning into practical use is one of a pragmatist’s greatest strengths, and this is why they greatly value the help of someone who gives valuable feedback and coaching. Knowledge can’t just remain theoretical to the pragmatist… they’ll want to see it brought to life in practice, and enjoy trying out new things, new ideas and experimenting. So when it comes to learning EI, they are generally open to constructive criticism and tend to be more open to change in themselves. Pragmatists really do thrive on knowledge and have a special love of learning. Others who support pragmatists would be encouraged to champion the energy and excitement of some new idea or project proposal that has generated a speed of action, confidence and motivation. They’re fast learners and fast movers generally though – so supporters can equally be encouraged to help pragmatists pause for a moment and consider all option.

The danger of the pragmatist is that they can enjoy experimenting so much, that they risk bringing this ‘experimentation’ into their most valuable and important relationships, doing some serious damage along the way. In order to progress and develop themselves, pragmatists might be willing to, or adopt an attitude of, using or ignoring the other person to achieve this. The warning signs of this are when the subjective reality (the feelings and experience) of the other person is no longer of concern to the pragmatist. This is when the pragmatist has the most amount of learning and self-reflection to do! Having said that, they are real natural problem-solvers, and an emotionally developed pragmatist will have both the knowledge and the means to restore relationships (at least from their end). 

Here’s a few ideas for pragmatists:

  • Know that a lot of decision-making is pragmatic for you. Sometimes, this isn’t always the best course of action. Consider other options on occasion too, before taking action.
  • Take the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (short version) (you’ll need to make a £30 donation to the company) and then see where your strengths and weaknesses are. Decide what you might want to develop. Self-analysis is very important to do every 1-3 years of our life.
  • Attend an EI course or workshop.
  • Have a long-term coach in your life who will help you increase your awareness of personal wellbeing, sociability, self-control and emotionality. Hire a coach specifically for this, and watch your EI growth accelerate! 
  • Don’t forget to examine your reactions to distressing situations. Develop action plans for mitigating risks in making same mistakes over and over.
  • Check in on your emotional wellbeing for yourself, but also through the feedback and opinion of those closest to you.
  • Accept that you’ll always be a work-in-progress (WIP)!
  • Build in a routine of ‘preparatory work’ into the early stages of your learning journey. Ask yourself: “how will my actions affect others?” “How will my decision impact others?” “How can I help others manage the impact of my decision?” 
  • Remember that we can’t change other people. We can only change ourselves. Other people aren’t problems to be solved, but human beings to be loved.

I’ve opened up this post for comments and discussion! Feel free to share your thoughts, corrections, opinions, suggestions etc! 


I’m Claz, a Life & Career Coach working with individuals as well as organisations, accredited in the UK. I am also a holistic massage & wellbeing therapist based in West London. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com and sign up to my workshops on my Eventbrite Page.

Dear leader, use positive assertiveness at all times. When necessary, use ‘no’.

When I was 13 years old, I went on a retreat. At the start of the retreat, we were put into the same group and had to remain in that same group throughout. In our final group exercise, we had to come together with our group leaders. One person would be asked to leave the room so that the rest of the group could pick an animal that he or she could be compared with, and to explain why. Believe it or not, I still use this as a team-building exercise for already existing teams if I deem the individuals in the team to be mature enough to see the analogousness of it, because I appreciated what it did for my confidence and for my trust in my little group. It’s surprisingly effective! When it came time for me to be compared with an animal, I was not expecting the comparison I received! I was compared to a nightingale. The group listed many reasons for the comparison, but the one word that really stood out for me was ‘optimistic’. In some mystical way, that word has shaped my life; my beliefs, my attitudes, my behaviour. Until I first entered the corporate world, I was as liberated in my ‘yes-ness’ and optimism as I was in my creativity. And then… I learned all about risk.

About positive assertive communication and the ‘NO’

What has this story got to do with positive assertiveness or saying ‘no’? Let us first establish what they are. Assertive Communication is a style of communication in which a person stands up for and respects their own needs and wants, whilst also taking into consideration the needs and wants of others, without behaving passively or aggressively. Positive Assertive Communication is about framing your thinking in a way that inspires a movement of love in your heart – so that your ‘no’ doesn’t close you off, but opens and frees you up to something (or someone) else! When you look at all the definitions on the web for the word NO, you’ll find the key word that stands out is negative (e.g. a negative vote or decision; an act or instance of refusing or denying… etc). These acts essentially block and close up – not just the other person, but yourself as well. As a natural ‘yes’ person, I have had to learn how and more importantly when to say ‘no’. We find ‘no’ more so in the corporate sector than in the charity sector, where there is naturally more generosity and spirit to serve within the organisational culture, and desire to make a difference.

Positive assertiveness is now something that more and more people are looking to assimilate into their personal and working lives. That’s why I am launching my first positive assertiveness & boundary setting workshop on Saturday 27th June 2020 at 3pm on Zoom. It will be an interactive opportunity to explore practical ways of positive assertiveness, as well as the ‘why’ for it all. The purpose of this blog is to speak a little more about the ‘no’ in relation to leadership, and when it is necessary to use it. This is where I say: Dear leader, use positive assertiveness at all times. When necessary, use ‘no’.

When is it appropriate to use ‘no’, then?

The leadership styles (I won’t go into leadership or management styles in this blog post) in which we would most frequently see ‘no’ is in the authoritative and bureaucratic styles of leadership. The best leaders in the world know how to use all 5 styles of leadership to suit the situation and the people, and have nailed their communication styles in order to implement the best courses of action in their team. Of course, this isn’t a step-by-step formula that leaders learn. They learned this through experience and decent self-knowledge! In management training, managers identify the two most common ‘no’ styles of management in the ‘tell’ or ‘sell’ management styles. Again, the best managers in the world master all 5 styles of management to suit the situation and the stakeholders involved. So when ought the ‘no’ come into ones leadership or management? Here are 3 key moments when the invitation of positive assertiveness needs to be put aside and a ‘no’ steps up:

  1. When there is a high risk of danger or severe hurt to yourself or to others. So many people knock health and safety. But guys, it’s a no-brainer. This shouldn’t be classed as a ‘duty of care’ exercise at all. It should be built into our intrinsic nature to care for and protect each other from danger or hurt for the due reason that we are human beings. When I’m driving on the road, I seriously appreciate ‘no’ signage – because it’s a prevention and deterrent to me putting myself in danger. This ‘no’ is a crisis prevention or crisis management measure. If a leader/manager sees a catastrophe or a crisis impending (i.e. it will happen, and it’s not speculative), they will rightly start putting on the breaks. What’s important here is that the good leader/manager will brief their team, ensuring that the team are fully communicated with and feel a part of the crisis prevention.
  2. When positive assertiveness has been exhausted. I get it. Sometimes, there is only so much positive assertiveness that can be applied until a ‘no’ must kick in. Someone who has set a boundary and now needs to make sure the other person understands and respects that boundary must do so by communicating that with them. My workshop explores how to do that positively in more detail. But what happens if the recipient isn’t responding as you would like to the positive assertiveness? There are two further courses of action. The first course could be to use a slightly more aggressive assertiveness. At no stage should the assertiveness be passive. One ought always to be aware of and sensitised to their impact on the other person. To be passive assertive is to allow oneself to be indifferent to their impact on the other. This is neither caring nor emotionally intelligent! Slightly aggressive assertiveness pushes on the firmest edge of ‘firm’ and the most uncomfortable end of ‘comfort’. The second course could be to put in the strict ‘no’. Just remember two main things if this option is the last recourse to action: a) The ‘no’ must come from a place of goodwill for others and the main people involved, not from an abuse of manipulation, control and/or power, and; b) it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it. It’s worth thinking how the other person would best respond before jumping into this last resort.
  3. Compliance. We touched on this briefly with health and safety in point 1. When it comes to compliance, there is no airy-fairy way of ensuring legislation is complied with, unless there is clarity on the boundary. These sets of rules are not optional. Most people will see the benefit of the rules quite naturally, but some people do like to consider themselves as ‘rule-breakers’, and get a kick out of pushing their limits. At some point, the ‘no’ kicks in here. If you are a parent, this balance is one you will already be familiar with. The only difference is that you’re not parenting a toddler, but managing/leading grown ups. Having said that, some of the best leaders and managers in the world are looked up to as ‘father-figures’ and ‘mother-figures’, and there is something very beautiful and life-giving about that.

Risk management plays a big part in the ‘no’ word or action. Good leaders and managers have superhero risk mitigation and management skills – either learned through study, experience or naturally developed whilst growing up. It is for this reason that ‘no’ can and should be used, when necessary.

What if I’m the person used to being told ‘no’, and it really gets to me?

Flip the other side of the coin… if you are the recipient of the ‘no’, then the method I use to give the other person the benefit of the doubt as to whether his/her ‘no’ was personal (on either side) or not, is to think about all the risks that the ‘no’ was preventing. Undertaking this small analysis tells you much more about the priorities of the leader and any underlying issues than most outward communication from the leader would. That is, unless your leader or manager is very open and very honest (I appreciate these leaders very much!). The reason why I brought up the ‘no’ as a personal affront or defence, is because in some cases, a manager might feel threatened in some way by their direct report, and so they develop a habit of saying ‘no’ to their direct report; even if the direct report’s suggestion or action is actually good for the team and the organisational mission. This is personal. On the other extreme, the direct report is constantly being told ‘no’ without any clear business justification. This is likely to be personal. A key example of this latter one would be racism or any other form of discrimination in a team. If any of these are you, then I recommend coaching to address those issues and to help you make the right decisions for yourself moving forward.

 


I’m Claz, a Professional Career Coach based in West London, accredited in the UK. I am also a Life & Wellbeing Coach, working with individuals as well as organisations. You can contact me through my website www.touchofclarity.com. Sign up to my first positive assertiveness & boundary-setting workshop on Saturday 27th June 2020 at 15:00 on Zoom to learn more about the fundamentals alluded to in this post.

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Communication framework for micro & small business impacted by Coronavirus

Many businesses are being forced to make severe and drastic changes as the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic begin to show its impact on the economy and on people. For many of us, it’s not looking good. Leaders now need to remain strong and communicate well and transparently with their stakeholders – in particular their staff.

This framework is a helpful tool for micro & small businesses to aid in communicating the strategy and plan for the necessary business changes that will take place to weather this particular storm.

Communication framework for business change