Emotional Intelligence Coaching

Emotional intelligence coaching is a growing phenomenon since the publishing of Daniel Goleman's book "EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE."

Broadly speaking, Goleman argues that intelligence about emotions is more important to career and personal success than IQ, for example.

Now, there are any number of emotional intelligence coaching approaches for professionals and students and even grade school kids, and many programs, all of which boil down to awareness and choice.

If I am aware of how I am feeling, I can choose to feel differently by changing my thought, my breathing pattern, my brain waves, the temperature of my hands, or my heart rate variability.

The latter three options involve learning some biofeedback skills. The nice thing about biofeedback is that once it is learned, I simply cue the response I would like to feel, and my body will do that for me.

The tough part is sustaining the physiology I would like to have, because the environment is constantly changing, and my brain will interpret some of those changes as stressful and my relaxed biofeedback physiology will change back to stress physiology if I am not paying some attention and monitoring my body.

My Primary Objection to Emotional Intelligence Coaching

If you have read Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi' s book, "FLOW", on page 28 he talks about the limits of consciousness. He reports that the central nervous system can process seven bits on non-verbal information, like facial expressions, differentiated sounds, (tone of voice), and body language "and the shortest amount of time between one set of seven bits and another set of seven bits is 1/18th second." By comparison it takes, 1/10th second to blink your eyes, so I am changing emotionally very fast. Imagine processing 126 bits of emotional data from a conversation with one or more people per second, (that is per second!) Emotional intelligence coaching needs to teach that awareness, and I have not come across one that does teach that.

Now the good news is that we humans are constantly managing our internal emotional experience with great dexterity, but where emotional coaching comes into play is when we are under stress, and that is when breakdowns in emotional coaching can lead to behaviors which negatively impact our careers and relationships.

Is it possible to slow down or speed up in 1/18th second?

I believe it is, and I base my belief on experience that I have had with EEG biofeedback, or brain wave biofeedback, which uses a computer to train brains to stay in one of four predominant brain wave patterns, so attention is of the kind associated with that pattern. For example, beta brain waves are associated with a focused external awareness style of attention, and if I have an ADD brain, then training of this kind can help me stay focused on one thing longer, and beta brain waves can cycle from 15 to 42 times per second, which is in the range of Csikszentmihalyi's 1/18th second.

The HeartMath folks have created a wonderful program, which I actually discovered in an EEG biofeedback list serve, which teaches that we can manage the time between our heartbeats which could be at the rate of one beat per second, for example.

When I am regulating my heart beat that effectively, keeping the time between them consistent, the emotional corollary is that I feel good, and my non-verbal communications to others is cordial, friendly, curious, and their central nervous system, even if it is currently disordered, (stressed!), will allow them to calm down, since I do not appear to be dangerous.

However, Paul Ekman teaches that we respond to facial expressions in 1/25th second, and that response is hormonal and subconscious, so if my conversational partner, say my beloved son, expresses contempt for Dad, I will respond hormonally before I have words in my prefrontal cortext.

Better be able to be aware and choose my response, because if I am violent to my son, then I may change his brain forever, and make him hypervigilant.

Emotional intelligence coaching must include information of this kind to be truly effective as far as I am concerned.  Please see the link to the Heartmath program in the right column.

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