We can’t live without oxygen, and we won’t thrive without love and connection.
Healthy connections are disrupted when emotions are dysregulated. It leads to bad behavior and often creates fear.
Other consequences of emotional dysregulation can be displayed through over-extended credit cards, marked increase in alcohol use, stress eating, and abuse.
People wishing to live a full and healthy life must be in touch with their emotions and be able to process suppressed or ignored emotions.
Getting in touch with emotions is key to creating authentic relationships and realizing our full potential.
In addition, emotional intelligence skills are central to connecting with others, as we connect through our emotions, with potential health, professional, and performance benefits.
This is where emotional intelligence coaching can be the perfect instrument for making a lifelong difference.
Find out more about emotional intelligence coaching and training opportunities if you want to explore this as a channel to make a difference in your coaching clients’ lives.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free. These science-based exercises will not only enhance your ability to understand and work with your emotions, but also give you the tools to foster the emotional intelligence of your clients, students, or employees.
This Article Contains:
- What Is Emotional Intelligence Coaching? 2 Examples
- The Psychology Behind Emotion Coaching: 9 Steps
- A Look at Gottman’s Emotion Coaching
- How to Become an Emotional Intelligence Coach
- Training in EQ Coaching: 3 Certificates & Online Courses
- Top Resources: 5 Handouts, Worksheets, Scripts, and Activities
- 5 Best Coaching Questions for Your Sessions
- 3 Best Books on the Topic
- PositivePsychology.com’s Useful Resources
- A Take-Home Message
What Is Emotional Intelligence Coaching? 2 Examples
Emotional intelligence coaching is “about evoking the best from people, including yourself” (Neale, Spencer-Arnell, & Wilson, 2009, p. 32).
Coaching is a tool that includes powerful communication and raises awareness. It is “about being a catalyst for positive change” (Neale et al., 2009, p. 32).
Emotion-Focused Therapy is one means for helping clients build emotional intelligence (EQ). The focus is to help clients “enhance their ability to perceive, access, understand, regulate, and (when necessary) transform emotions” (Greenberg, 2015, p. 13).
Neale et al. (2009, p. 32) believe that “Coaching is about moving forward and helping people improve their individual performance.”
Ultimately, emotional intelligence in the workplace enhances productivity, employee engagement, and profitability (Goleman, 2000).
Below, we provide two examples of how emotional intelligence coaching can provide positive benefits.
James has been hired to complete a home project. He is pleasant, hardworking, and likes to chat. As he discusses progress on the project, a loud blast from nearby road construction causes James to duck defensively.
During emotional intelligence coaching, James reveals he has post-traumatic stress disorder from years of military service. With coaching, he is learning to regulate his emotional reactions.
Breanne has just started working on emotional intelligence skills with a coach. Breanne and her roommate have been at odds, and it has escalated after her roommate accused her of stealing money and spread rumors about her.
Breanne tells her weekly wellness group that her roommate’s behavior is hurtful and makes her sad. She then asks for advice. She listens and decides she will invite her roommate to talk privately and honestly about their relationship and living arrangements. Breanne is learning to be responsive rather than reactive.
The Psychology Behind Emotion Coaching: 9 Steps
People need connection. “Human beings need others to feel secure and happy” (Greenberg, 2015, p. 285).
When our attachments are threatened, one emotion that surfaces is fear. For example, we may experience the fear that without others, we will not survive (Greenberg, 2015). This fear sounds irrational, but “irrationality is what fear is all about” (Baker & Stauth, 2003, p. 17).
Emotional intelligence coaching helps those consumed by negative emotions such as fear to recognize the rational truth and reassess the vignettes of their life.
Neale et al. (2009) suggest several characteristics of effective coaches, including awareness of others, listening with your whole body, authentic rapport, empathy, and trustworthiness.
If coaching rapport is the vehicle, neuroplasticity is the engine. Neuroplasticity is the concept that the brain is pliable in both function and structure (Wildflower & Brennan, 2011). Deliberate concentration helps rewire our brains (Wildflower & Brennan, 2011) as we rethink and reevaluate past difficulties.
There are a variety of emotion coaching methods. One particular nine-step process is divided into two phases (Greenberg, 2015).
The first phase includes arriving at emotions:
- Encouraging emotional awareness.
- Being present to aid acceptance of the emotional experience.
- Verbalizing specific emotions.
- Naming the client’s primary experience.
The second phase includes facilitation of moving forward and transforming feelings as necessary:
- Helping the client categorize the feeling as healthy or unhealthy.
- Analyzing destructive thoughts or beliefs attached to unhealthy or maladaptive emotions.
- Facilitating awareness of and access to different and adaptive emotions.
- Accessing the need associated with the emotion and feeling that it is deserved.
- Guiding the client in the development of a new self-narrative.
A Look at Gottman’s Emotion Coaching
John Gottman explained that emotion coaching “helps children and young people to understand the different emotions they experience, why they occur and how to handle them” (Gilbert, Rose, & Gus, 2015, p. 36). The premise is that nurturing and emotionally supportive relationships help build resilience and promote excellent outcomes for children.
Supportive adults understand that emotions such as anger, fear, joy, sadness, and disgust are universal. They use the strength of supportive relationships to help guide children to respond effectively.
Gottman identified five steps for emotion coaching to use with children to build empathy and model prosocial behaviors (Gilbert et al., 2015).
1. Awareness of the child’s emotion
This requires the emotional awareness of the adult involved.
2. Viewing emotion as a catalyst for intimacy and teaching
Negative emotions can provide an opportunity to build empathy, intimacy, and teach emotional intelligence skills.
3. Listen with empathy and validate the child’s feelings
The adult must watch the child closely and use soothing, noncritical words to reflect what they’re hearing from the child.
4. Guide the child to label the emotion verbally
Labeling the emotion helps the child transform ambivalent feelings into something definable and normalizes the child’s feelings.
5. Setting limits and problem solving
Walking with the child through this process, rather than doing it for them, teaches competence, autonomy, and emotional regulation.
Steps to help the child process their emotions include:
- Set limits if appropriate.
- Identify goals.
- Consider solutions.
- Evaluate solutions.
- Help the child choose a solution.
How to Become an Emotional Intelligence Coach
If helping children deal with emotions appeals to you, you may have wondered what it takes to become an emotional intelligence coach.
Neale et al. (2009) propose some basic requirements to be a successful coach:
- Robust emotional intelligence skills
- Necessary coaching knowledge, attitude, skills, and habits
- The coachee’s willingness to take part in the process
And for organizational coaching:
- A suitable culture for coaching
In addition, Neale et al. (2009) propose core attitudes necessary for becoming an emotional intelligence coach:
- Self-regard – How okay you are with yourself
- Regard for others – How okay you think others are
Building rapport with clients rests on the foundation of trust. Therefore, trustworthiness is a core EQ coaching component.
EQ coaches use whole-body listening, which is nonjudgmental listening that uses our eyes, ears, and intuition while being aware of our own emotions (Neale et al., 2009).
Another core coaching skill is asking meaningful questions. Neale et al. (2009) believe that when the coach’s self-regard and regard for others is high, the questions are more likely to be nonjudgmental, solution focused, and respectful.
A recommended first step to become an EQ coach would be to immerse yourself in emotional intelligence training. Having a solid grasp of emotional intelligence concepts can sharpen interpersonal and intrapersonal skills and help create empathy for future clients.
The next step includes finding a course that matches your needs and personality style.
Training in EQ Coaching: 3 Certificates & Online Courses
Below are recommended coaching institutions that are well known, with established reputations.
1. Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification – Goleman EI
Daniel Goleman is a renowned expert in the field of EQ. The author of several books on the topic, he introduced emotional intelligence to popular culture in the 1990s.
The Emotional Intelligence Coaching Certification, associated with Daniel Goleman, draws on positive psychology, evidence-based behavior change theory, mindfulness and compassion training, and neuroscientific precepts.
Upon certification, coaches will be equipped to help clients increase capacity for self-awareness, focus, and empathy; balance complex emotions during times of stress; and maintain stronger and more effective relationships.
This program is approximately 10 months long and includes a 12- to 24-week coaching practicum. Graduates may apply for the Associated Certified Coach credential or the Professional Certified Coach credentials.
2. Leading with Emotional Intelligence – Dr. Relly Nadler
Dr. Relly Nadler offers a host of courses, assessments, and coaching options for those interested in learning more about emotional intelligence for self-mastery or professional development.
This video, Using Emotional Intelligence to Develop Executive Star Performers, is a brief description of one of his emotional intelligence courses.
3. EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 Certification – College of Executive Coaching
This resource offers a variety of potential coaching options. The EQ-i 2.0 and EQ 360 Certification course shows how increased emotional intelligence enhances potential leadership qualities, sales revenues, and academic success.
The website is very informative, providing pricing options and the cancellation policy up front. The College of Executive Coaching was one of the first to receive International Coaching Federation accreditation. In addition, it was the first to offer executive coach training and to train coaches in assessments and the use of appreciative inquiry in coaching.
Top Resources: 5 Handouts, Worksheets, Scripts, and Activities
1. Emotional Wellness Quiz
The Emotional Wellness Quiz is a good place to start an emotional intelligence journey. The quiz helps clients consider their capacity to recognize, accept, and manage emotions throughout the day. Clients are asked to reflect over the past month and scale 16 emotions depending on how often these emotions were felt.
2. Pleasant Activity Scheduling Worksheet
The Pleasant Activity Scheduling Worksheet is designed to help clients schedule positive, enjoyable activities in order to have something to look forward to. This worksheet invites clients to include an enjoyable activity once a day. Activities vary from watching a movie to calling a friend.
The idea for this worksheet is simple yet powerful. Sometimes it is necessary to pursue enjoyment and positivity with vigor, driven by the idea that emotional health is worth the effort.
3. Skill for Regulating Emotions
There are a variety of counterproductive behaviors people engage in when emotions are dysregulated. The Skills for Regulating Emotions exercise provides an outline to help clients rethink counterproductive behavior and make better choices.
4. Emotional Footprint Exercise
This exercise encourages clients to use imagery to explore and depict their current and past emotional footprint on the left side of the page and then describe their ideal emotional footprint on the right side of the page.
In addition to using creativity to complete this exercise, it invites participants to imagine what is left in the wake of emotional displays by depicting potential ripple effects.
5. Positive Self-Talk Exercise
Self-talk is one component at the core of emotional intelligence. This exercise invites participants to evaluate their negative self-talk, showing how the words come automatically and then contrasting that by reframing the same incident using normative or positive self-talk.
In addition, participants are directed to write the words they need to hear in the space provided below the exercise. Finally, they are encouraged to write words that may be the root of the negative self-talk on a separate paper and discard it, symbolically releasing the negative energy associated with those words.
5 Best Coaching Questions for Your Sessions
Good coaching questions help move clients to action.
Asking questions is one of the top skills required for effective coaching, along with empathic listening.
1. What is going on for you right now?
This question, posed by Neale et al. (2009), prompts clients to label the emotion they are experiencing at the moment. Labeling an emotion can help frame it and put it into perspective.
2. What energizes you?
This question posed by Orem, Binkert, and Clancy (2007) provides insight to clients’ passions and reveals what motivates them.
3. What information is your emotion giving you?
If we consider the presence of negative emotions as a signal that something needs to be addressed, healed, or protected, this question posed by Greenberg (2015) can lead the client to consider the origins and trigger of the emotion.
4. Where do you feel it in your body?
This question, shared by Tracy Fink, emotional intelligence coach at the Tortoise Institute, allows clients to recognize what is happening in their body, as opposed to just what is happening in their head.
When the emotion is named without judgment, it can be easier to process.
5. What is the difference between how you see yourself and how others see you?
This question by Goleman and Nevarez (2018) helps clients develop self-perception and see how it differs from how others view them, revealing possible blind spots and biases.
3 Best Books on the Topic
1. Emotion-Focused Therapy: Coaching Clients to Work Through Their Feelings – Leslie S. Greenberg
Emotion-Focused Therapy provides a framework for helping clients identify, process, and regulate emotions.
The first chapter examines the role of Emotion-Focused Therapy for enhancing emotional intelligence. Readers can examine the latest theory and research on Emotion-Focused Therapy.
The book helps readers gain an understanding of how accessing emotions can lead to healing and wisdom and how emotional intelligence can be engaged to promote personal growth and wellbeing.
Find the book on Amazon.
2. Emotional Intelligence Coaching: Improving Performance for Leaders, Coaches, and the Individual – Steve Neale, Lisa Spencer-Arnell, and Liz Wilson
Emotional Intelligence Coaching leads from the perspective that as the EQ coach is practicing, they must also immerse themselves in emotional intelligence, a concept the authors describe as an inter-developmental process.
A central concept in this book is that people work better when they feel better, and people feel better when they possess a robust understanding of the nature and role of emotions in their lives.
This text focuses primarily on organizational settings; however, the many exercises, assessments, vignettes, and activities can also be used in sports, interpersonal, or other coaching applications. The simple format provides a solid foundation for building an EQ coaching practice.
Find the book on Amazon.
3. Appreciative Coaching: A Positive Process for Change – Sara L. Orem, Jacqueline Binkert, and Ann L. Clancy
Appreciative Coaching provides a framework for the coaching process rooted in appreciative inquiry, which encourages clients to access their sense of wonder and enthusiasm for the present and consider future possibilities.
This model uses theory and strength-based practices to effect positive change. Both positive psychology and emotional intelligence concepts are used to drive the coaching process.
Find the book on Amazon.
PositivePsychology.com’s Useful Resources
At PositivePsychology.com, we have many useful resources that can be instrumental in your EQ coaching career. An obvious first choice would be the Emotional Intelligence Masterclass.
Emotional Intelligence Masterclass
One of the first steps to becoming an emotional intelligence coach is to familiarize and build emotional intelligence in yourself.
This masterclass is an excellent course for practitioners, as it includes high-quality materials along with science-based training sessions.
3 Emotional Intelligence Exercises Pack
With this pack of free resources from the Positive Psychology Toolkit©, you’ll have some science-backed emotional intelligence tools for your next therapy or coaching session.
This pack includes the following exercises:
- Building Emotional Awareness
This mindfulness meditation helps clients strengthen emotional awareness by inviting them to tune into the physical sensations underlying their emotions.
- Decoding Emotions by Analyzing Speech, Body, and Face
This exercise has clients practice reading the verbal and non-verbal cues of someone telling an emotive story to help strengthen their emotional intelligence in communication.
- Identifying False Beliefs About Emotions
This exercise helps clients identify and draw links between their beliefs about emotions and the behavioral consequences of those beliefs that may support or detract from well-being.
You can download the pack for free today.
17 Emotional Intelligence Exercises
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop emotional intelligence, check out this collection of 17 validated EQ tools for practitioners. Use them to help others understand and use their emotions to their advantage.
A Take-Home Message
Emotional intelligence skills are the fertilizer that nourishes human potential, helping individuals grow and flourish.
It takes courage to examine our behavior, particularly when it’s dysfunctional. Fortunately, once we develop awareness, the foundation of EQ, we are on our way to change.
For a coach, homing in on emotional intelligence coaching can discern you from the medley of coaching approaches. It is an amazing avenue to explore that will not only enrich your own emotional intelligence, but have a lifelong impact on clients you assist.
A final reminder…
Mental health stigma rests on judgments about people who seek professional help.
Change regarding this perspective is long overdue.
It’s time to celebrate the courage of those who reach out to EQ coaches or therapists to optimize human potential. After all, we are all worth it, and we can all benefit from it.
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Emotional Intelligence Exercises for free.
- Baker, D., & Stauth, C. (2003). What happy people know: How the new science of happiness can change your life for the better. St. Martin’s Griffin.
- Gilbert, L., Rose, J., & Gus, L. (2015). Emotion coaching: A universal strategy for supporting and promoting sustainable emotional and behavioural well-being. Educational and Child Psychology, 32(1), 31–41.
- Goleman, D. (2000). Working with emotional intelligence. Bantam Books.
- Goleman, D., & Nevarez, M. (2018, August 16). Boost your emotional intelligence with these 3 questions. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2018/08/boost-your-emotional-intelligence-with-these-3-questions
- Greenberg, L. S. (2015). Emotion-focused therapy: Coaching clients to work through their feelings (2nd ed.). American Psychological Association.
- Neale, S., Spencer-Arnell, L., & Wilson, L. (2009). Emotional intelligence coaching: Improving performance for leaders, coaches, and the individual. Kogan Page.
- Orem, S. L., Binkert, J., & Clancy, A. L. (2007). Appreciative coaching: A positive process for change. Jossey-Bass.
- Wildflower, L., & Brennan, D. (2011). The handbook of knowledge-based coaching: From theory to practice. Jossey-Bass.