Emotional Intelligence and NLP

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What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is usually described as a set of skills or competencies:

 – Be aware of your emotions and how these change

 – Manage your moods and use them to help you think

 – Motivate yourself

 – Understand the moods of others

 – Communicate with others

Looking at this list of skills it’s obvious that Emotional Intelligence (EI) is not something which you have or don’t have. It is a set of abilities which we all have to some extent.

Some people have very highly developed EI, some people have poorly developed skills, and most of us lie in between.

Putting Emotional Intelligence in very simple terms: some people are good with people and in touch with their own feelings – others are not. It’s just a matter of skill!

The benefits of good EI skills

Most of us have come across people with excellent technical skills (what used to be called ‘hard skills’) but who never progress in their careers because of their lack of ability to manage their emotions and get along with other people (the ‘soft skills’).

If a person is an excellent technical specialist they will eventually be put in charge of others who are doing the same job. And this is where EI skills become necessary. Now the technical skills aren’t enough – they need to be able to communicate with, coach, and motivate other people – skills which the training of technical specialists may not have developed – as well as be in charge of their own moods and impulses.

In addition to its value in the workplace Emotional Intelligence is a prerequisite for good personal and social relationships. People tend to shy away from those who are at the mercy of their feelings, are unable to motivate themselves, or who cannot engage in interactive communication.

How is EI similar to NLP?

The ‘What?’ of EI

EI research and publications do an excellent job of defining Emotional Intelligence, demonstrating how EI can be measured quantitatively, and demonstrating how EI is supported by neuroscience research indicating what happens in the brain when we experience moods.

The ‘Why?’ of EI

This EI research also provides us with lots of research data on the benefits of being skilled in EI and how it has benefits in improving performance and results in leadership, relationships, education, and a wide range of other areas.

The “How to do it?” of EI

The Emotional Intelligence movement is less strong on the practical way of developing the five skill areas with a range of suggestions which include get one-to-one coaching, get feedback from friends and colleagues, be aware of your moods, and use tips and techniques to monitor your emotions and improving your communication skills.

Effectively, the EI movement is great at defining the WHAT? and the WHY of EI but is not quite so good at providing a systematic and integrated HOW TO.  And that’s where a thorough and integrated NLP training comes in.

The Pegasus NLP Core Skills programme

This five-day NLP course is designed to provide a five day integrated experience which enables people to develop and practise each of the five EI skill areas. And, since developing a skill requires practise and feedback as well as information, NLP Core Skills is highly experiential and action-oriented from the start.

Let’s take look at some of the ways in which the five competency areas are dealt with on the course:

(1) Be aware of your emotions and how these change

We explore how thoughts and feelings interact, how our thinking creates some of our moods – and how the Anchoring Phenomenon can instantly cause a mood change – even without thinking.

(2) Manage your moods and use them to help you think

How we can use our physiology and our thoughts to change moods. How to be in the right emotional state for each situation. How to use techniques such as the Panel of Experts or Different Perspectives to be less responsive to the negative behaviour of other people.

(3) Motivate yourself

How to be aware of our personal Values and how these influence our actions. How Values can be used to motivate oneself or others.

(4) Understand the moods of others

How to develop our ability to recognise subtle moods changes in others from how they act and sound. How to recognise and utilise non-verbal communication, create rapport with them and help them change their moods where this is appropriate.

(5) Communication Skills

How to communicate with a person in a style that suits them, how to communicate with groups, how to understand the other person’s point of view, how our behaviour affects other people and vice versa, the importance of favouring questions over statements, the value of learning about a person before attempting to influence them. At the end of the course we explore how the Pegasus NLP Influencing Model can be used to communicate using everything learned in the course.

The ‘missing’ competency in EI?

The five EI skill or competency areas are very useful.

That said, EI doesn’t address how these five areas operate systemically i.e. how developing your skill in one area affects others.  In NLP the Logical Levels or Personality Map does this in a very clear and simplified way.  It’s one of the first models we explore on NLP Core Skills and we then use it on each day of the course to look at

How everything that is experienced on the course influences us systemically

How the different ‘levels’ of our personality affect one another. For example, we can use it to see why changing your physiology affects your mood, thinking, motivation and self-esteem.

Having this ‘additional’ competency is like having a Big Picture for your developing Emotional Intelligence so that the insights and skills integrate with one another – rather than being a collection of useful-but-separate tips and techniques.


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Most articles on this site were first published in the Pegasus NLP Newsletter.

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