Increasing Emotional IntelligenceThanks to the Greater Good blog, I have been alerted to a study that suggests people can learn to be more emotionally intelligent.
The study was conducted by four Belgian researchers — Delphine Nelis, Jordi Quoidbach, Moïra Mikolajczak, and Michel Hansenne. Nelis, Quoidbach, and Hansenne are at the University of Liège; Mikolajczak is at the Université Catholique de Louvain.1
As the researchers explain in their abstract,
The construct of emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the individual differences in the perception, processing, regulation, and utilization of emotional information. As these differences have been shown to have a significant impact on important life outcomes (e.g., mental and physical health, work performance and social relationships), this study investigated, using a controlled experimental design, whether it is possible to increase EI. Participants of the experimental group received a brief empirically-derived EI training (four group training sessions of two hours and a half) while control participants continued to live normally. Results showed a significant increase in emotion identification and emotion management abilities in the training group. Follow-up measures after 6 months revealed that these changes were persistent. No significant change was observed in the control group. These findings suggest that EI can be improved ...Because the text of the study is not available for free online, you might want to turn for additional detail to the description of the research Timothy A. Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University, provides at www.PsychologyToday.com:
The EI training intervention consisted of 4 sessions of 2.5 hours each over 4 weeks with participants divided into two smaller groups (10 and 9 participants, respectively). The training was based on Mayer and Salovey's model of EI, with an emphasis on: 1) perception, appraisal and expression of emotion; 2) emotional facilitation of thinking; 3) understanding and analyzing emotions; 4) reflective regulation of emotion. During the program, particular emphasis was placed on techniques to enhance emotional regulation and emotional understanding. These sessions were based on short lectures, role plays, discussions and readings. Participants also completed a daily dairy of emotional experience that they analyzed in light of the theory explained in class as part of their learning.The moral for corporate trainers is that well-designed coaching and training in the interpersonal skills that reflect emotional intelligence can equip people to do a better job of communicating with each other and managing conflict — assuming training participants are willing to learn.
(I will be on the lookout for further information on the exact nature of the training the Belgian researchers used in their experiment. I am also interested in anything I can find about their thoughts concerning how to improve the specifics of their training in light of their experience with their initial group of subjects.)
1 Delphine Nelis, Jordi Quoidbach, Moïra Mikolajczak, and Michel Hansenne, "Increasing Emotional Intelligence: (How) is it possible?" Personality and Individual Differences, Vol. 47, No. 1 (July 2009), pp. 36-41.
2 John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey, "What is Emotional Intelligence?" (pdf) in Peter Salovey and David J. Sluyter (eds.), Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications (Basic Books, 1997), pp. 3-31.