Tools for Coaching Mastery

What Does
Emotional Intelligence Have to do with Coaching?

by Joseph

The goal of coaching is to empower the client to succeed.

For the client, success is achieving their desired outcomes and improving their
experience of life.

For each of us, whether coach or client, the outcomes we achieve are a result
of the choices that we make and the actions that we take. Generally, the role
of the coach is to support the client to recognize their options, make more
effective decisions and do something different-apply new behaviors that enable
them to realize their goals.

That’s where emotional intelligence comes in. Simply
put, emotional intelligence (EQ) is a set of skills that enable one to better
manage themselves, and more effectively relate with and positively influence
others. To be optimally effective in making changes, it is important for coach
and client to recognize the role of emotions in behavior.

Present in every life event are our thoughts and our emotions. Our emotions
influence our thoughts, the choices that we make and the actions that we take–whether or not we are aware of them. When we are unaware of the influence
of our emotions on others and ourselves, we can sabotage results. When we are
aware of the influence of our emotions and are able to effectively integrate
them, we can use emotions to inform our decision making and take more
purposeful action

What does that look like?

The Overwhelmed Consultant
This busy consultant’s primary goal for coaching, he said, was to “improve
the effectiveness of my work with a difficult client.” Working with this
organization was taking up lots of his time and he wanted ways to accelerate
their development. He kept talking about how overwhelmed with work he was and
he was looking for new ways to manage the client so his life would be easier.

One obvious coaching approach would be to support him to implement new client
management strategies, e.g., create boundaries for his time, refine client expectations
and use different communications tools. And in fact, he had previously attempted
to make these kinds of changes but it wasn’t working and he was busier
than ever. Doing more of the same was destined to fail.

The EQ Difference
When this client was coached using emotional intelligence coaching techniques,
he became aware of previously ignored thoughts and feelings that were influencing
counter-productive behaviors. He was able to recognize that he thought that
he “lacked the skill to pull off this difficult client culture change”
and he was “feeling scared.”

His previous attempts to cover up his feelings and look like he had it all
handled caused the client's employees to react with distrust and resist the
new methods he was trying to install. That made the work go much more slowly.
Unconsciously trying to compensate for his self-judged inadequacy he gave much
more of his time in extra work, got further behind and even more overwhelmed.

The Change
This client was coached to manage his emotions in a way that enabled him to
be more mindful, authentic and transparent. That improved both his relationship
with himself and with the client's employees. Moving beyond self-judgment he
had no more need to give up extra time and work trying to prove his value. Being
more genuine and approachable he was able to support client employees to move
beyond their fears and try something new.

The Emotionally Intelligent Coach
An emotional intelligence coach has learned advanced coaching skills and techniques
and is able to take a different approach to coaching. Not every coach will want
to be an EQ Coach, but every coach can use emotional intelligence to improve
their coaching results by managing their relationship with themselves and their
client differently.

Empathy and Validation
One simple EQ coaching technique is to tune in to the client to truly understand
what they are feeling and validate their feelings without judgment. Having someone
really understand them and accept what they are feeling helps them neutralize
their impulsive reaction to the situation and helps them be more resourceful.
It also helps them accept themselves, which boosts self-confidence.

The coach might ask, “In that situation, how do you feel?” The
coach needs to support the client to respond with an emotion and not a thought.
Many clients will say something like, “I feel like they don’t trust
me.” That’s a thought. A feeling response would be, "I feel
sad," or, "I feel anxious." When feeling is expressed the coach
can validate the person’s experience.

Coaching the Coach
Another way that coaches can significantly improve coaching effectiveness, whether
or not they are EQ coaches, is to develop the ability to recognize, manage and
effectively express their own emotions.

In the previous example the business consultant was unaware of the influence
his unrecognized emotion was having on his communication and as a result he
was undermining trust. Similarly, a coach can positively or negatively affect
outcomes by not being aware of how their emotions influence their own behavior
and that of the client. For example, a coach could be in a similar situation
as that consultant where they think they are not adequate in their coaching
and feel scared. Acknowledging and integrating that fear allows the coach to
be present. Denying, avoiding or pretending will create unwanted results.

Emotions are natural; it is what you do with them that increases or decreases
your coaching effectiveness. Even if you are unaware of your emotions you will
still project your reactions to them. When you do so, you will stimulate reactions
in the client that limit their ability to learn and change.


Joseph Liberti, Founder of EQ At Work, coaches leaders and coaches to liberate
authentic self using emotional intelligence. EQ At Work trained coaches learn
to administer a proven system to develop and apply EQ in order to create new
positive results. In the process they learn, practice and coach with advanced
emotional intelligence development techniques that will make them a more effective
and happier person as well as an extraordinarily effective coach. Your questions
and comments are welcome at or

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