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Jack’s Ego and Emotional Intelligence
by: Erik Boshuizen

In this blog, we’ve put together the essential reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such a critical element in IBCT’s Holistic Competence/Role Model.

While observing a free-lance trainer during a coaching process for on behalf of an esteemed training institute an awkward feeling came over me. The trainer (let’s call him Jack) spoke with the authority of his subject. A probing question from a participant though landed badly and Jack responded with a defensive statement ‘you clearly weren’t listening to what I have just said.’

The participant slumped in his seat, the room giggled. The real tragedy is that Jack was completely unaware that the safe learning environment instantly had changed. Participants were now on their smartphones and making faces to each other or just ‘switched off’. Jack didn’t notice that no one was asking any more questions or engaged with his interesting lecture.

Click to view the infographic

Building Genuine Contact with your Participants?

An Infographic

Research shows that attention & understanding are vital to create genuine contact with your participants and to build valuable relationships with them. But what’s the best way to get their attention, to let them perceive your understanding and to open them up for learning during training sessions?

In the end, we evaluated the session with Jack and I asked him few questions. Do you have any remarks in general? Jack responded: “It went great! This session could not be performed better. I think this group had never such an interesting lecture about real estate management. I am the best real estate man in the region. The content was so clear that they did not ask me any questions. The only time Jack was connecting was when I suggested he needn’t send me an invoice. Now I had his full attention!

This event came back to me earlier this month when we were discussing the importance of Emotional Intelligence for trainers, whether you are an in-house corporate trainer, a free-lancer or external training provider.

In this blog we’ve put together the essential reasons why Emotional Intelligence is such a critical element in IBCT’s Holistic Competence/Role:

Emotional Intelligence for trainers

Importance of Emotional Intelligence for Trainers

1- To identify the feelings, emotions and experiences of others

Low Emotional Intelligence means that we may lack the ability to spot small shifts in participants that, if not handled brilliantly, could cause a complete shut-down and a decision made to not participate fully.

This could be due to a lack of safety created by the trainer, or simply an insensitivity to reactions that could be brought forth to create a real learning space.

The trainer needs to be able to deal with the multitude of emotions that arise in certain training and development situations. People are faced with dramatic changes to their workplace (and behavioral) practices and this can be tantamount to being pushed into developing or changing when someone is not ready, which can cause strong emotional and psychological reactions in some people.

It is all well and good to be able to identify one’s one emotions and then to be able to manage them (Daniel Goleman’s first and top two quadrants of the definition of Emotional Intelligence) but if we cannot identify with the feelings, emotions and experiences of others, we are ill-equipped to deal with those when they inevitably arise in training sessions, often without warning.

Professional trainers need to be able to stand in the face of these reactions and hold their ground, the ground that is a safe space for people to express their feelings and to explore the situation while being supported and accepted for who and where they are at the moment.

2- To maintain our focus on the participant

If we have internal chatter, emotional junk, triggers for negative thoughts or reactions happening at any point during a training session (and it does happen regularly), we simply must be able to address it quickly and move it on.
When those things happen to us, we lose our ability to maintain an outward focus – and be present and sensitive to what is happening for our participants.

If Emotional Intelligence is low – we are likely to spend the majority of our focus, our attention and our energy inwardly. To turn the focus to me instead of thee.

At best the participants will experience a sense of detachment, a lack of care, a distancing, a sense of pushback from the trainer. At worst, the participants could experience a complete disengagement – and close down to any potential learning and growth.

3- To engage

High Emotional Intelligence on behalf of the facilitator will help him/her to create a space that invites people to engage.

It often happens that participants arrive with a sense of fear and/or resentment, high resistance, or simply absolutely no expectations whatsoever.
The participants may well have been “forced” to attend a training for which they don’t understand the purpose.

Perhaps the participant even perceives that he/she has been “sent here to be fixed” – because a leader sees him/her as being broken or a problem.

If the trainer is not emotionally intelligent – there may be little or no way that a space can be created that invites the participant to look past the thoughts and perceptions and decide to take positive messages, skills and content away from the session – regardless of the intention behind why he/she was booked to attend in the first place.

4- To be open for feedback

There are times when participants can simply behave badly and be mean.
The trainer may perceive that he/she has given his/her very best – and been completely participant focused, delivered on every objective and been amazingly entertaining to boot ~ yet a participant may give harsh criticism and damming feedback.

This sometimes happens when one participant gives hypercritical feedback amongst all of the other participants who gave positive or even glowing feedback.

If the facilitator obsesses and focuses only on the negative feedback, there could be damage to confidence for future sessions.

On the other side of feedback, professional trainer’s need to be able to find the kernel of truth in negative feedback – and make discerning judgments as to the “truth” and “reasonableness” of the feedback – and set the negative response aside and take the learning to continue to grow.

5- To set a positive example

Finally certified and professional trainers are paid to achieve the aim of bringing about useful change to a team or an organization. This is the ultimate level of Emotional Intelligence – to lead others in the direction they wish to go by setting a positive and alluring example and by showing them the way.

This does not imply that trainers need to be better than others – no one can be exalted to that status (and be aware of anyone who boasts the ability to do so; we are all human being on a journey of self-discovery and development).

In workshop, training and facilitation situations the leader of these is the coach or trainer – the person in this role needs to know how to lead and have the requisite capabilities and competencies to do so.

Emotional Intelligence for trainers

Final Thoughts

Do you want to enhance the contact with your participants? Feel free to use the Infographic that comes with this article and/or consider reading the Daniel Goleman’s bestseller about the power of emotional intelligence.
ISBN 9781934441176.

by: Erik Boshuizen
Erik Boshuizen is the global director of the International Board of Certified Trainers (IBCT). Erik is an early-retired President of a Graduate Business School for HRD in the Netherlands. He worked in multiple marketing and HR positions within business and HRD industry. Erik studied Strategic Corporate Education with a major in ‘transfer of training’ and evaluation. Erik holds a master's degree in Education.

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