Mind your Es and Qs part 3: designing eLearning for emotional intelligence

So far, we’ve defined emotional intelligence (EI) and discussed ways to develop EI in your employees. In our third and final installment, Roundtable is diving into ways we can use eLearning to improve EI.

EI expert Daniel Goleman recommends 360-degree assessments, which should consist of a self-evaluation and peer evaluation.

As Goleman and Richard Boyatzis wrote in their Harvard Business Review article, “The larger the gap between a leader’s self-ratings and how others see them, research finds, the fewer EI strengths the leader actually shows, and the poorer the business results.”

Once people gain a strong perception of where their true emotional intelligence lies, they can begin reflecting on areas in which they can improve and seek further training and mentoring.

The reflection stage is where training can work best. In “How to Develop More Emotionally Intelligent Employees,” Gassam writes that training must be consistent and continual. When developing training, the best results will come from a blended learning strategy. Some aspects of emotional intelligence are best explained through in-person scenarios. Offer supplemental material before lessons to get learners on the same page, then use eLearning to test what they’ve learned.

The possibilities with eLearning are endless. Some possible use cases include:

  • Managing anger
  • Increasing empathy
  • Improving listening skills
  • Handling conflict
  • Recognizing stress in the workplace
  • Delivering unpleasant feedback

Let’s take a look at how eLearning can help people manage their anger and become better listeners.

How to manage anger

A strong approach to teaching learners how to manage their anger is using scenario-based learning with branching. Think of it as a choose-your-own adventure. The goal is to create material that triggers emotional responses.

For example, let’s say Beth is in a meeting in which everyone is pitching new ideas. Beth’s coworker, John, whom she spoke with prior to the meeting, offers up her idea as his own.

Beth is furious. Her face is red and hot, her stomach is in knots, she’s clenching her fists — these are her triggers. We know Beth is angry because we can identify what anger looks (and feels) like. Once we identify Beth’s triggers, we can decide the best course of action for Beth to handle her situation.

Things to consider

Now that we’ve gone through our eLearning scenario, it’s time to reflect.

What would you do if you were Beth in this scenario?

Would you yell? Talk to your coworker calmly in private? Say nothing at all?

Sometimes we respond to situations differently from how we know we should act, but don’t let your emotions get the best of you. A key part of emotional intelligence is the ability to manage your emotions. When you start to notice your triggers, intervene.

For instance, if you were starting to feel angry during the conversation, you could say, “That’s interesting; tell me more.”

In doing this, you are giving yourself time to cool down while also creating space for more understanding.

Later, you can reflect on your triggers. Identify as many as you can and form coping techniques that best suit you. Coping could mean taking deep breaths, counting to 10, or walking away and then addressing the situation again later.

Lastly, ask yourself what you could do differently to improve your situation. People can’t change things that are out of their control; if you want something to change, it has to begin with you. If you find that you’re quick to anger, and drinking water helps you calm down, then start carrying a water bottle. Even small changes can make huge differences.

How to become a better listener

Author Stephen Covey said most people listen with the intent to respond, not the intent to understand.

Often, when we’re in conversation, we’re more focused on forming responses rather than trying to understand what our counterparts are saying.

According to Tom Fox’s Washington Post article “Tips For Overcoming Workplace Misunderstandings,” NPR’s Vice President of Newsroom Training and Diversity, Keith Woods, said we shouldn’t be quick to judge during conversation.

“Woods noted that we often arrive at snap judgments based on misperceptions, creating serious misunderstandings that can lead to low morale and difficulty accomplishing day-to-day tasks and the larger organizational mission,” Fox writes.

Listening to understand is integral in creating a respectful and honest workplace, and your eLearning should communicate this.

One way to challenge learners to listen is creating scenarios that incorporate active listening riddles.

Sarita Maybin, a motivational speaker and communication expert, offers these examples on her website:

  • A man builds an ordinary house with four sides, except each side has a southern exposure. A bear comes to the door and rings the doorbell. What color is the bear?
  • You are the bus driver. You drive three blocks and pick up two people. You drive three more blocks and one person gets off. You drive around the corner and pick up five people. How old is the bus driver?

By including spoken riddles, learners are more compelled to listen completely. Are you curious what the answers are to the above riddles?

  • A house with all southern exposures would be in the North Pole, meaning the bear is a polar bear. The bear is white.
  • You are the bus driver, so the answer is your age.

Did you get them right?

A second way to challenge learners to listen fully is to incorporate a timer.

Do you remember those episodes of “Jeopardy” when one of the contestants buzzes in to answer only to realize they should have let Alex Trebec finish the asking question?

A Jeopardy-style game will increase learner engagement while testing their ability to listen. Adding a time element might cause people to feel as though they need to respond before the timer runs out. But they’ll learn the importance of listening fully — we can’t know what’s being asked of us if we never truly hear it.

Are you interested in improving your organization’s emotional intelligence? Schedule a call today to learn more about Roundtable’s custom learning solutions and other possible use cases.