Emotional Intelligence : a challenge for coaches

coaching emotional intelligence


Coaches have heard for years about emotional intelligence (EI). As coaches we want to have an impact and connect more deeply with our clients and provide more impactful and meaningful coaching experiences.
Emotional intelligence is the basis of coaching for both parties. If both the coach and the client are fully aware and in control of their emotions, their communication is smooth and effective.
Being aware of our emotions is essential to bring the right coaching presence to the session and handle anything that can happen skillfully and effectively.


But what makes it challenging for coaches to apply Emotional Intelligence?


  • Emotions are highly personal and vary widely among individuals
  • The nuanced understanding and management of emotions requires addressing a wide range of emotional experiences and responses
  • Emotions and their expressions can differ significantly across cultures
  • It requires coachees to be open, self-reflective, and willing to explore personal emotions, which can be uncomfortable for some.
  • Coachees may resist delving into personal emotional issues, particularly in a group setting.

Explore Emotional Intelligence in your Coaching


For instance, some clients may excel in self-awareness and self-management but seek to enhance their social awareness and relationship management to assume a leadership role. This is often the case for individuals who have been outstanding individual contributors and are promoted to lead a team, group, or division. The strengths that made them successful in their previous roles become largely irrelevant in their new positions as leaders, causing them to struggle. A software developer, for example, might be at the peak of her career but will need to develop competencies such as influence and conflict management to function effectively as a team leader.

Rather than simply offering advice, you can assist your client in cultivating self-awareness to recognise their emotions, habits, and triggers. When you observe a pattern in a client’s perceptions and actions, gently bring it to their attention to help them understand where they are getting stuck. If they have a challenging day and revert to old habits, you can help them regain their footing and transform a perceived failure into a learning opportunity.

Tips for your coaching


Some tips you might like and we hope those could be useful:

Observational coaching

Have the person being coached observe someone who demonstrates the desired skill or behaviour. Encourage them to journal their observations. This builds awareness outside of coaching sessions.

360 discussions

Facilitate employees talking with one another, asking gentle questions such as, “Where do you feel I have an opportunity to engage more as a teammate?” and “What are two ways you might suggest I become a more cooperative teammate?” The key is to have the questions written out with guidelines for answering to ensure the conversation remains positive.

Read and reflect

One of the most effective strategies is to find motivational material for people to read and then have them answer insightful questions such as, “What did you learn about yourself that you are committed to improving?”

Observe how you or your coachee reacts to people.

Do they make rushed judgements before knowing all the facts? Dothey stereotype?

Assess how your coachee reacts to stressful situations.

Do they become frustrated when there’s a delay or when something doesn’t happen as expected? Consider how they respond, and create simulated sessions where emotions can be experienced and managed in a controlled setting.

Increase the vocabulary

People tend to have a limited emotional vocabulary, using general words like happy, good, positive, angry, and sad. This simplistic language makes it difficult for them to express their emotions accurately. Expanding their vocabulary would help them articulate the ‘shades of grey’ in their feelings. One solution is to search online for ‘emotions and feelings words,’ print them out, and reflect on the words that can help people express their emotions more precisely.

Reframe your questions

People often avoid the true question and start their responses with ‘I feel that…’. Responses beginning this way are unlikely to address emotions, for example, ‘I feel that it went well’. A solution is to repeat or reframe the question so that people can adjust their responses accordingly.

By focusing on these components and strategies, coaches can help individuals develop a high level of emotional intelligence, leading to greater success and fulfilment in various aspects of their lives.


How to create an effective EI workshop?

Translating theoretical knowledge of EI into practical, real-life applications can be difficult. Participants need opportunities to practice and integrate EI skills into their daily lives.
Creating an effective EI training workshop requires addressing these challenges through thoughtful design, skilled facilitation, and continuous improvement based on participant feedback and evolving research.
Many of our subscribers have asked us to design a workshop on EI and our partner & coach Deena de Vries Jones has designed a tailer-made EI workshop designed to boost self-awareness, improve communication, and foster better relationships. You can customise this workshop to meet your specific needs and goals.

This workshop’s goal is to develop key skills so individuals can improve their relationships, performance, and overall well-being, leading to a more positive and productive life and work environment.

Check the exclusive Kit – Emotional Intelligence : the Workshop

(cc) MyCoachingToolKit 2024, articles may be freely copied and distributed subject to mention and link to the original source.

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