Emotional Intelligence And Neuroscience in Coaching
In this article I wish to share my experience with emotional intelligence in coaching, while examining it from a neuroscience perspective.
In this fast changing world where artificial intelligence, technology, complexity and ambiguity are pervading every aspect of our life... organizations, schools, families and people need to be emotionally intelligent. This means being smarter with our feelings in order to optimally approach challenges, build better relationships, make sustainable decisions, and perform better under stress.
In my coaching practice I focus on helping my clients develop emotional intelligence (EI) as we work on their goals. Each phase of the coaching process is integrated with the most strategic EI competencies, and mastering EI becomes a strong enabler to reach those goals.
In applying neuroscience in my practice, I work with the three most important pursuits in Emotional Intelligence: Awareness, Management and Direction.
When working on Awareness (Becoming more aware, ie. WHAT am I feeling) I focus on the importance of clients’ labeling their emotions as well as helping them to understand that emotions are information and energy.
I help clients become aware of how they use their attention, ie. what they focus on, what triggers their reactions, what their body sensations, thoughts and emotions are, and what they are telling themselves. The importance, here, resides in building their ability to become active participants in constructing their experiences.
Awareness is a skill, and as their skill level develops, the next pursuit to tackle is Management (Becoming more intentional, ie. HOW do I manage my emotions). My key task here as a Neuro-Coach is understanding how my clients regulate their emotions, how they react to provocative or aversive triggers, and how functional or dysfunctional it is when attempting to reach their objectives, as well as their overall well-being.
My focus is then on helping my clients to employ strategies to be more intentional in their choices and behaviors - ie. how to be more response-able and less reactive.
From a neuroscience perspective the third and last pursuit, Direction (Becoming more purposeful, ie. WHY do I choose the way I do) is all about energy and brain health! - it’s the real engine of Emotional Intelligence, and as Neuro-Coaches we know why.
We know that energy is at the basis of neurological responses that drive the emotional system. Emotions drive thinking, which impact behavior, and determine the results that we get. As I see it, there are two areas that we can work on with clients, that are fundamentally important for Direction.
1. Helping the client gain clarity of who they want to be in life, what legacy they want to leave to the world, what their values are, and the things that are really important to them. This is how they find the fuel - the energy to successfully move forward. This will assist a client to be coherent in their daily choices, decisions, and behaviors.
2. Helping clients develop strategies to cultivate a healthy brain, focusing on the following seven habits of brain health, from BrainFirst®: sleep, movement, nutrition, social time, down time, focus time and challenge time.
EI means integrating the “rational” and “emotion-driven” parts of us to make effective and sustainable decisions. EI is a way to maintain the best sustainable performance under pressure. Moreover, what I discovered as I developed a model with my partners at Disclose, is that EI is like an enzyme… a strong enabler to use individual talents in the most aware, intentional and functional way.
What is Talent?
A pre-requisite in coaching is for the coach to believe in a client’s potential. I believe in my client’s brain-talents - the ones I can observe and feed-back, and raise awareness around. Brain-talents are those talents that we acquire through our experience and learning during our lives, and this is why they are unique to each of us. They can also change over time, thanks to our neuroplastic brain!
The question I ask myself, and you, is… what impacts the conscious or non-conscious choice of using or not using those talents?
Developing the emotional brain can help us make conscious, intentional, and optimal use of our talents to upgrade our competencies and performance. Improved competencies and performance are benefits we gain from using our talents… but they are not the only benefits!
The most important benefit that we gain, is if we intentionally and effectively use our brain-talents (those talents that come easy and smooth to us because of the experience and learning we have in our lives) we are going to feel satisfied, motivated, and happy.
Let me ask you... how much time does it take for you to do something that doesn’t comes easy to you? How well do you do it? How do you feel about it and about yourself?
What about something that does come easy to you, and helps you achieve your objectives? How much time does it take? How well do you do it? And how do you feel about it or about yourself?
In comparison this usually takes much less time, you get great results, you feel great about the situation and very happy with yourself.
For a person who is intentional, aware, happy and satisfied using his or her talents, what kind of impact can that have when working in a team? Or in family relationships? And with happy teams and families, what kind of impact can they have on the organization or in their community?
When I coach, focusing on the emotional brain and EI competencies, I help my client master new skills, develop as a person, enhance awareness and intention. Coaching in this way also helps unleash their energy, to make the best use of their individual talents, to become a healthier, happier person who contributes to making a better world.
About The Author
Melania Mecenate, PCC, is a bilingual neuro-coach and ICF professional certified coach. She is the co-founder and executive partner at Disclose SRL, a consulting and coaching company focused on talent. Melania is certified in Emotional Intelligence with Six Seconds, Applied Neuroscience with BrainFirst® Training Institute, and is a Professor in HR, in Italy.