While reflecting on yesterday’s EI class, I’ve been thinking about Josh’s 12/15 blog entry. While I’m always awed and humbled when participants ask me to solve their personal problems, I agree with Josh—there are no quick fixes to offer. What to do? I want my participants to feel good about our training. How can I meet each person’s particular needs—especially if their requests are impossible to grant?

I’ve had similar struggles when teaching Time Management. My participants sometimes declare that I have nothing to offer them—their own situation is too unique and intractable. They describe untenable situations that have (in the past) caused my blood to run cold. Should I just pack up my things and go home? Then I remember what I know. I’m not a magician that can transform their workplace, but I can offer proven principles that work. When I feel lost in a training situation, I return to the principles. They are often quite basic but still, incredibly valuable. They also often require hard choices and the breaking of old habits.

In yesterday’s class, when “Ted” repeats his concern about his inability to feel emotions, I can’t let myself get dragged into his fear and despair. I need to remind him of a principle—Emotional Literacy is a skill that can be developed through practice. When “Annie” wants me to solve her problems with “manipulative” co-workers, I need to step back and find a principle. In this case, I can remind Annie that Emotional Intelligence involves our own skill at handling our own emotions, not controlling the behavior of others. We want to control others because it is scary and disconcerting to feel our own anger at “manipulative” co-workers. In this case, focusing on our self instead of others, we can use EI principles and competencies to learn how to manage feelings, examine thoughts, and choose helpful behaviors.

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