Emotional Intelligence and Coaching

Nov 9, 2021

Perhaps one of the greatest achievements of humanity is the recognition of Emotional Intelligence (EI) as a marker for a successful life and career. Our affinity towards education and information has opened a gateway to livelihood, while the gateway to good relationships is opened by EI.

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is the skill of managing our emotions in an effective manner in order to successfully manage the environment around us. It is the awareness and regulation of the self.

As a coach, managing EI is at the core of what we do. When we talk about a ‘coaching mindset’, we are referring to the EI of a coach. How self-aware are they of their feelings? How well do they manage their emotions? How do they handle other people’s emotions and feelings? We understand that, for an effective coaching session to happen, the EI of the coach plays an integral role.

A coach must show up with full presence, curiosity, and open-mindedness. They must be flexible, and client-centered. For all of this to happen, the coach must first have a good understanding of the self.

Ask yourself these questions, both within and outside the context of coaching:

  • What are your triggers?
  • What are your affinities?
  • How composed and centered do you think you are?
  • Are you willing to allow time and space for your client to explore or do you want to quickly present them with a solution?
  • How do you deal with your opinion on the differences between yourself and those around you?
  • Are you client-centered, or preoccupied with the opinion bubbling in your mind?
  • How do you react to certain situations presented by the client?
  • Can you be curious about the client’s situation, or you are restless?
  • What is your comfort zone?

Emotional Intelligence in a coach will allow the coach to listen without judgement and prejudice. The questions posed to the client will not be polarized, but client-centered. The coach will be able to appreciate the efforts that the client is putting in towards the goal. The self-awareness and self-regulation that emerge from EI will allow the free flow of communication.

But here is the rub – knowing the concept and components of EI is not enough. EI is not just knowledge to gain, but a lifetime of practice and endeavor.

Here’s what EI looks like in practice:

  1. Self-Awareness – People who are aware of their own feelings can manage them better.
  2. Responding, Not Reacting – An emotionally intelligent person responds to situations instead of reacting to them. If your anger, judgements, or frustrations gets in the way, then your effectiveness as a coach will be compromised.
  3. Awareness of One’s Surroundings – Different people from different cultures, backgrounds, communities, and nations will have different sensibilities. A person with high EI will communicate from a place of awareness of these factors and empathy for the unique experiences of the individual.
  4. Serenity – People with high EI have an innate silence and stability within. A great coach will be the surface of a pond that is sparkling-blue, clear, and calm on which the client can reflect their true self without any inhibitions.
  5. Reflection – After a session with a client, it is a good idea to write down your own feelings and thoughts about it. Reflection and introspection can bolster your EI

We may seek out friends and mentors with high EI, and companies may want to hire people with high EI. However, the truth is that identifying a person with high EI will be possible only when your own EI is high.

Emotional Intelligence is a vast topic and learning it starts from exploring the self. EI is not an inherent trait that we are born with. It is an acquired skill. If you want to develop your EI, consult a coach who will help you identify your blind spots.

Further reading:

  1. Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Jean Greaves and Travis Bradberry
  2. Permission to Feel: Unlocking the Power of Emotions to Help Our Kids, Ourselves, and Our Society Thrive by Marc Brackett.
Deva Dey
Deva Dey


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