How To Bring Emotional Intelligence To Any Situation

Emotions are often overlooked in decision-making. At work we like to think that we make decisions on purely rational grounds. In practice, emotions have an enormous impact on the decision making process, because:

  • they give us information about how other people are likely to behave
  • how we feel about our desired end result determines which information we regard as relevant
  • how we feel about our decision will determine how much ‘discretionary effort’ we put into making it work.

We can use the Goleman/Boyatzis Emotional and Social Competence Inventory’s ‘four-quadrant’ model of emotional intelligence as a guide for bringing emotional intelligence to bear on any problem. You can use it for yourself, or as a coaching model with others.

The model is very simple – it divides emotional intelligence along the axes of ‘self and other’ and ‘awareness and action’ to arrive at four quadrants: Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness (understanding other people’s emotions) and Relationship Management (being able to handle and inspire emotions in others). We can ask questions to find out what is going on in each quadrant:

Emotional Intelligence coaching



Example: Jaz, Ceri and Jane

Jaz has been in a technical role for several years and is competent and reliable. Ceri has recently been hired at a more senior level for a particular project that has now been cancelled.

To give Ceri a role in the team and retain him for future projects that are in the pipeline, line manager Jane has asked Jaz to report to Ceri in future. Previously Jaz reported to Jane directly. Jaz has complained on the basis that this is in effect a demotion, and is refusing to cooperate.

You are Ceri’s coach. How would you use the Coaching for Emotional Intelligence process to guide him in resolving the situation?

Step 1. Self-Awareness

Help Ceri to identify his emotions accurately. How does he feel about this situation? Plus, why is he feeling that way, and how might those feelings change?

Step 2. Social Awareness

Help Ceri to identify the feelings of the other people involved. How does Jaz feel? How does Jane feel?
Plus, why are they feeling that way, and how might those feelings change?

Step 3. Self-Management

How do you want Ceri want to feel about this (i.e. what emotional state will help him achieve a good resolution?)? How does Ceri want to feel? What does he have to do to keep or change the feelings involved, to bring about the best outcome?

Step 4. Relationship Management

How does Ceri want Jaz and Jane to feel? What can he do to keep or change the feelings involved, to bring about the best outcome?

Clients and students I have used this model with report that they understand the situation better, and usually feel better about it. Sometimes there is quite a dramatic breakthrough as the client becomes aware of an important aspect that they had previously overlooked from their own viewpoint.

NB this was inspired by the ‘Emotional Blueprint’ process outlined in the book The Emotionally Intelligent Manager by David Caruso and Peter Salovey, which uses the four branches of the Mayer and Salovey model of emotional intelligence as the basis for asking coaching questions.

Coaching for Emotional Intelligence

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