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50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

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Emotional Intelligence explains why, despite equal intellectual capacity, training, or experience, some people excel while others of the same caliber lag behind. Certain competencies are found repeatedly. in high performers at all levels, from customer service representatives to CEOs. As trainers we must find ways to build these talents labeled EQ (emotional intelligence quotient). The 50 reproducible activities in this resource book focus on developing the following set of talents: self-awareness and control, empathy, social expertness, personal influence, and mastery of vision. Activities take between 20 and 90 minutes to complete.

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EQ #1 Champion or Chump

PDF

EQ #1

Champion or Chump

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants become familiar with the past feelings that certain leaders fostered

• To determine exactly what those leaders did to foster certain feelings

Estimated Time

25 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #1

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Medium

Coaching Tips for Coach/Trainer

This EQ activity is designed to help leaders realize the impact that the leader has on the follower. By reaching back into our memories of both positive and negative examples in our own work life, leaders can become sensitive to the power that leaders have to influence and foster work environments. This EQ activity will build self-awareness by examining the individual’s emotional environment.

Use this activity to begin a discussion of how significant it is for leaders to give followers a sense of importance and significance.

 

EQ #2 Importance Meter

PDF

EQ #2

Importance Meter

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants recognize that we may unintentionally give different messages to our people regarding the importance of their job or task

• To visually represent where to place our efforts in order to improve the level of importance that we foster in our workplace

Estimated Time

40–55 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #2

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Low

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

This EQ activity is designed to help leaders know exactly where they must place their efforts in order to heighten their staff’s sense of importance. The visual representation is a strong way to recognize how different employees may feel related to their sense of importance and significance in the work unit.

This activity will encourage the leader to regard followers as individuals.

Also, it will help leaders know what to give each follower so that he or she can do his or her best.

 

EQ #3 Adding Fuel to the ImportanceMeter

PDF

EQ #3

Adding Fuel to the Importance

Meter

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants recognize how each of their employees receive individual messages regarding the importance of their job or task

• To help participants determine influence and leadership strategies that will increase people’s sense of importance

• When implemented on the job, a greater sense of relationship/bonding will occur between leader and follower

Estimated Time

45–50 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #3

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Low

Coaching Tips

This EQ activity is designed to help leaders identify specific ways to influence and inspire followers. It is essential for each follower to feel valued.

The leader’s social expertness determines how well he or she can build bonds and influence followers. The leader who has this EQ skill also knows that this is a continual part of his or her leadership role.

 

EQ #4 Rank Order Your Employees

PDF

50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

Coaching Tips

Sometimes intentionally or unintentionally, all leaders rank order employees.

Some organizations even give salary increases based on some type of ranking system. Ranking may cause problems for the leader. For example, the leader may consciously or unconsciously send negative messages to the people on the bottom of the ranking. These messages may inadvertently cause people to believe they are not important or valued to the organization.

This can spiral into additional performance problems.

The caution for the leader is to recognize that he or she values employees differently, but the leader must employ self-restraint to be sure that he or she is not giving messages that counter productivity.

For example, if a leader does not value a certain job function, but instead views it as a necessary evil that he or she must contend with, that leader is apt to give the employee performing this function less time, less patience, less praise, less development opportunities, and even less pay even though the employee may be doing a fine job.

 

EQ #5 Ask for Feedback

PDF

50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

This exercise is aimed at gaining individual feedback from employees. The leader sits face to face with the employee and asks specific interview questions aimed at improving the leader’s self-awareness while at the same time working to strengthen the bonds with the employee by practicing effective listening skills.

Readiness is always a factor to consider when implementing any type of learning activity. This activity has some great rewards and also some risks attached. Therefore, you must take extreme care in positioning this exercise.

First, you should only ask participants to perform this exercise if you believe they have a high level of reflective listening skills. Second, if you have any reason to believe that the participant may harbor resentment if presented with negative feedback by an employee, do not jeopardize the employee by asking the participant to perform this exercise. Third, you should assess the degree to which the participant is willing to act on the feedback. If you believe the participant is ready to make some changes in his or her behavior, then this exercise could be a very powerful catalyst for change. Be sure to make yourself available for individual coaching after this exercise.

 

EQ #6 Picture Yourself

PDF

EQ #6

Picture Yourself

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants visualize themselves in successful situations

• To encourage participants to act on their thoughts

• To build successes with employees by visualizing actions that are consistent with the goal of building employees’ sense of importance

Estimated Time

60–90 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #6

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Low

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

The ultimate point of training or coaching is to get the participant to act in a way that will produce the desired result with the employee. One step that is often assumed yet not always realized, is that the leader can picture himself or herself successfully implementing the desired behavior. This visualization step precedes action. Therefore, visualization is very important to eventual behavior change on the part of the participant.

 

EQ #7 Personality Contest

PDF

50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

So, the most important first step is to recognize that we like certain employees more than others. This awareness is important and will be the first step in recognizing that the leader must be careful not to create an environment that creates negative perceptions.

For example, if a leader finds employee A to be exhaustive, boring, or just plain annoying, the leader probably avoids or otherwise displays less time and attention toward this employee. Sometimes too, the leader may find that he or she just finds the person’s values offensive or otherwise disagrees with his or her lifestyle. These feelings on the part of the leader may be influencing the way the leader interacts with the person on work-related issues. On the other hand, if employee B is similar in values, has an interesting personality or otherwise has qualities that the leader just plain likes, the leader may very well be treating this person with some unspoken priority.

The purpose of this exercise is to recognize that our personal feelings toward employees may set up a ranking system that interferes with our ability to lead. In addition, the exercise is designed to improve self-awareness and empathy skills of the leader.

 

EQ #8 Music of Our Workplace

PDF

EQ #8

Music of Our Workplace

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants verbalize the culture they perceive in their work units or departments by using music as a metaphor

• To encourage participants to try to shape their workplace culture by using music as a metaphor

• To encourage participants to verbalize to their employees their vision of a perfect workplace culture

• To open the lines of communication with employees and leaders regarding the underlying culture of their workplace

Estimated Time

60 minutes

Material

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #8

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Medium

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Music can be a fun and safe way for people to talk about the workplace environment. Within different types of music, one can find just about every imaginable tempo and mood. Just as music is different, each workplace is different and has its own mood and tempo. Some workplace environments feel and sound like a John Phillips Sousa march while others feel more like a funeral march. Still others resonate with the sound of the blues.

 

EQ #9 Coming Through

PDF

EQ #9

Coming Through

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants acknowledge their emotions in the workplace

• To heighten awareness of the emotions that the leader has during the course of the workday

• To help participants recognize that their emotions impact others in the workplace

• To help participants recognize the appropriate time to express emotions in the workplace and the need for self-control regarding negative emotions

Estimated Time

75 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #9

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

High

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Whether emotion should be displayed or kept in check in the workplace depends on many things. The emotionally intelligent leader knows when and how to place negative emotions in check. This leader also realizes the impact and harm that negative emotions can have on the workforce.

 

EQ #10 Open and Friendly vs.Friendship

PDF

EQ #10

Open and Friendly vs.

Friendship

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants develop a sensitivity for developing a caring and open posture with employees

• To help participants define the professional limits of caring in the workplace

• To help participants build bonds but yet not compromise their role as leader

Estimated Time

35 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #10

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Medium

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Building strong bonds with employees has many advantages for the leader.

Most employees also welcome sincere and genuine caring from the leader.

The emotionally intelligent leader gains commitment, loyalty, and trust by being able to build sincere bonds with employees. Open communication from employees is critical to remaining competitive and creative in our global world. Therefore, the emotionally intelligent leader understands the need for and importance that must be placed on building sincere bonds with employees.

 

EQ #11 Listening Habits

PDF

EQ #11

Listening Habits

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants develop self-awareness related to their ability to listen

• To assist participants in the self-assessment of their listening skills

• To identify negative or disruptive listening patterns that interfere with building good bonds with employees

Estimated Time

25 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #11

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Medium

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

The ability to listen attentively and without judgment, advice, or logic, is one of the most difficult and most prized skills for leaders to master. Emotionally intelligent leaders know that listening to employees is critical to forming strong bonds and developing an open, friendly environment conducive to creativity, productivity, and high quality. They also know that listening reduces conflict and encourages more creative problem solving.

 

EQ #12 Genuine Listening

PDF

EQ #12

Genuine Listening

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants develop empathy through improving listening skills

• To improve relationships and bonds with employees by improving our listening skills

• To practice genuine listening skills under stressful conditions

Estimated Time

80–85 minutes

Materials

Flipchart

Markers

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Low

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Listening skills are central to the emotionally competent leader. However, skill in listening requires far more than technique. True listening requires a mindset that includes the following elements:

a respectful attitude toward the speaker even when the content of the speaker’s message is abrasive a open mind willing to hear and seek understanding of the messages of the speaker placing the speaker as a human equal thus worthy of the listener’s attention

 

EQ #13 Tuning into Our Employees

PDF

EQ #13

Tuning into Our Employees

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants develop empathy through improving listening skills

• To improve relationships and bonds with employees by improving our listening skills

• To practice genuine listening skills

Estimated Time

25–35 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #13

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Medium

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Listening skills are central to the emotionally competent leader. However, skill in listening requires far more than technique. True listening requires a mindset that includes the following elements:

a respectful attitude toward the speaker even when the content of the speaker’s message is abrasive a open mind willing to hear and seek understanding of the messages of the speaker placing the speaker as a human equal thus worthy of the listener’s attention

 

EQ #14 I Was Appreciated

PDF

I Was Appreciated

Trainer’s/Coach’s Notes

Approximate

Time

1.

1 minute

Overview

Explain to the individual or group that positive emotional energy is contagious, and in the workplace, one of the ways to spread positive emotional energy is through genuine gratitude. Explain that each of us reacts to gratitude in our own way, however. When the employee perceives the gratitude as genuine, the reaction is always positive.

Developing an adeptness at using positive influence is central to leadership. Emotionally competent leaders know that they hold tremendous power over the emotional climate of the workplace.

2.

1 minute

Purpose

“The purpose of this exercise is to explore our own experiences for evidence of the benefits of feeling appreciated at work. If we think about times when we felt genuinely appreciated for our effort, contribution, skill, or other gifts, we can begin to recognize the power and obligation that we have as a leader. In this exercise, you will recall times when you felt appreciated and also times when you felt unappreciated and discuss the reactions caused by these incidences.”

 

EQ #15 A Grateful Heart

PDF

50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

However, using positive energy requires many attributes on the part of the leader. The first of which demands that the leader be genuine about his or her positive feelings for the people in the workplace and their contributions.

If the leader isn’t genuine, more harm and damage can be done to try to express feelings that are not honest. The paradox lies in the fact that most leaders have been trained to think critically. Critical thinking allows leaders to make improvements to the status quo, to improve quality, and to otherwise drive for excellence. However, sometimes too much critical thinking has blocked our path to being grateful for the existing contributions, gifts, and skills that are present around us.

Therefore, the challenge for leaders is to maintain their critical thinking, yet balance it with genuine appreciation for what exists. This requires looking at things with a grateful heart and being able to see the good, not just what needs improving in our workplace and in our workforce.

 

EQ #16 Gifts

PDF

EQ #16

Gifts

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants recognize the positive attributes of employees

• To help leaders develop a grateful heart, thus enhancing their ability to influence and build bonds

• To help leaders look at the broad array of gifts that are needed for success in the workplace

Estimated Time

35 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #16

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Low

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Emotionally intelligent leaders know that it takes a wide range of people to build a successful team. Leaders know that people have different strengths and gifts. The most adept leader knows how to blend everyone’s gifts and allow for people’s gifts to surface for the good of the task or team. Leaders also know that all people are not alike, and if we expect them to be alike, we’ll be quite disappointed. It is the leader who can see and appreciate these differences that has the strongest ability to influence and build a team filled with cooperation and collaboration. This leader is able to bring the gifts forward just when the team needs them and thus enable everyone to succeed.

 

EQ #17 Yes, But . . .

PDF

EQ #17

Yes, But . . .

EQ Target

Self-Awareness and Control

Empathy

Social Expertness

Personal Influence

Mastery of Vision

Objectives

• To help participants determine their commitment to the idea of expressing positive emotions such as gratitude in the workplace

• To help participants determine the benefits of expressed gratitude in their workplaces and also to weigh the risks of such behavior

• To help leaders take the initiative to commit to such actions if they deem it useful

Estimated Time

30 minutes

Materials

Emotional Intelligence Exercise #17

Uses

Training workshops on leadership

Private coaching sessions with all levels of leaders

Risk/Difficulty

Medium

Coaching Tips for the Coach/Trainer

Many leaders have been coached or conditioned not to express gratitude or positive emotion in the workplace. Such behavior was considered to lead to employees demanding higher pay raises, or raising expectation levels of employees related to career paths, etc. However, the most emotionally competent managers know that genuine gratitude builds bonds and strengthens the trust levels with employees.

 

EQ #18 Common Mistakes withGratitude

PDF

50 Activities for Developing Emotional Intelligence

Employees do not like to be manipulated or gamed. Employees know when they are being “techniqued” and will resist expressions of positive emotion if they believe the motive is corrupt. Therefore, leaders must make every effort to genuinely express positive emotions with no expectation of gain.

Some of the common mistakes leaders make when “using” gratitude include the following:

Gratitude for Gain

Beware. If the leader uses gratitude for gain or manipulation, people will see through her. We repeat: The sole purpose of gratitude is to honor the other person by acknowledging his effort, attitude, skill, or experience. Yes, we believe there are payoffs from expressing gratitude, but if the leader does this with the payoff in mind rather than the real purpose, the results will be corrupted. People will see it as merely a manipulation tool and will not respond in the same way.

Using Dollars to Measure Gratitude

We also have more to gain if we separate gratitude from monetary rewards. Once we say thank you and here is $100 for your effort, then we begin to judge the effort. It could leave people thinking, "Well, if it was that good, why is it worth only $100, why not $200?" Gratitude isn’t about money. It is about truly honoring people’s efforts and sacrifices in the workplace with a heartfelt thank you. Fair rewards and compensation surely have a place in an organization, but I would prefer that we think of them separately so as not to contaminate the purity of gratitude. It should be a message from one heart to another. Besides, so many monetary reward programs are formal, lag the effort, and require paperwork and approvals.

 

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