Peer Support and Learning Emotional Intelligence

One question you might have is, if EI can be trained, how can you improve yours? The authors report that the studies varied in their level of specificity regarding training, so this question can’t be completely answered. However, Maddingly and Kreiger offer cautiously-worded suggestions about how the best training programs seem to operate, and so these might be qualities for you to seek.

The first component of a successful EI program is that you are given the opportunity to discuss the ideas offered in training with your fellow learners. As the authors note, “trainees should acquire more emotional intelligence when they can discuss the meaning of the construct and how it applies to them” (p. 150). This conclusion is consistent with other literature on adult education. Being able to apply new ideas to your life and share your thoughts with others can give you the chance to test whether these ideas are going to work. If you are picking an EI program, or one is being offered at your workplace or other setting, find out how much of the training will involve this peer-to-peer interaction.

The second, related, component of successful EI training involves being able to practice your ideas in between sessions through talking to others and getting feedback on the new approaches you are trying to use in your everyday life. For example, you might receive training in reading the emotional cues of other people. Try out how well you’re doing by asking people you already feel comfortable with about whether the way they’re feeling is the way you think they’re feeling. Perhaps you have company at your house and you’re discussing what color rug might fit in well in your dining room. One of your friends offers a suggestion but instead of exploring it, you just move on to what someone else is saying. It’s clear that you’ve now potentially offended your friend. The next time you get the chance, ask if in fact you did seem overly dismissive. Now your EI will benefit from being able to check out your read of the situation while also offering an apology.

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