Having just completed a 3 day workshop at Lumina Learning understanding how Lumina Emotion, their new emotional intelligence tool, works, it got me thinking about how as individuals we can develop our emotional intelligence.
Stewart Desson at Lumina Learning has identified, through his research, that there is a strong link and overlap between personality qualities and the factors traditionally measured to determine emotional intelligence. Common wisdom has been that personality is reasonably static, but that emotional intelligence is a skill that can be learnt.
I have always been slightly sceptical of this approach.
I accept that your underlying personality, once fully developed, tends to be relatively consistent. However, through my coaching, I have seen some big shifts in the capability of individuals to adapt both their everyday behaviour and how these qualities overextend when they are under pressure or stress.
My big take away from last week is that Emotional Qualities (Sparks) and Reactors are simply an extension to our personality. Lumina have defined these qualities and reactors in our underlying, everyday and overextended personas. The research seems to indicate it is how we choose to react to stimulus that makes the key difference between emotional intelligence or lack of it.
Victor Frankl (Man’s Search for Meaning) said:
‘Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”
Many people feel that they are hard wired one way or another, i.e. when they receive the stimulus the only option they have is to respond in the way they are pre-programmed to respond.
I am not saying that it is easy to use that space and make a choice. The easiest option is simply to react.
However, as human beings we do have a choice in how we react to a situation. It is whether we are self-aware enough to recognise the space exists and to use it. Knowing our likely default behaviour by understanding the personality qualities we prefer, enables us to consider whether the reaction this encourages is appropriate for the situation or not.
The skill comes from the ability to tune these reactions up and down to suit the presenting situation. Lumina Emotion gives me a language to explore this with people to help move from intellectual acceptance of emotional intelligence as a concept, into action (ie doing something about managing emotional reactors) to truly develop emotional intelligence.