Coaching Challenge: Practicing Emotional Intelligence

Pat Barber Coaching Challenges

If you were to study the world’s best CrossFit or fitness coaches to figure out what makes a great coach so great, we believe the answer would center around connection.⠀

Great coaches know how to connect with other people.⠀

Which is to say, great coaches practice empathy and emotional intelligence.⠀

Those two terms — empathy and emotional intelligence — are often lumped together.⠀

But they’re not one and the same.⠀

“Emotional intelligence includes a cognitive awareness of empathy, which is less natural and more contemplative, but after some practice and familiarity, can produce the feeling of empathy if it’s not already present. Empathy is an inclination while emotional intelligence is developed through practice and immersion, reflection and comprehension, analytic ability and consideration. One who has empathy but lacks emotional intelligence, has an innate ability of being able to imagine how someone else feels, but might not necessarily know how to properly act on it to achieve a positive outcome.” ⠀
— Aimee Sparrow⠀

Emotional Intelligence (EI/EQ) has many definitions but, ultimately, the idea can be distilled to this: EI is your ability to be aware of and manage your own emotions while also being sensitive to the emotions of others. It is a practice of self-discipline and self-evaluation. It asks you to be a better listener, opens you to different viewpoints and helps you maintain boundaries. It’s about reading a situation and choosing the most effective path for a positive outcome.⠀

It is not something you have to be born with. It’s a choice, something that can be practiced.⠀

The challenge this week is one of reflection.⠀

We’re asking you to give these questions some thought:⠀

  • How does empathy show up in my coaching?
  • How does emotional intelligence show up?
  • How could I practice emotional intelligence?

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About the Author

Pat Barber

You might know me from the CrossFit Games, where I’ve competed since 2008, but I have also been the Head of Coaches Development for one of the largest CrossFits in the world. I have the honor of being one of the few L4 coaches, and I still love teaching L1s and L2s for CFHQ (I’ve put about 15,000 coaches through their L1’s). I'm husband to the most wonderful woman in the world, and a father who loves surfing, Magic: The Gathering, knife making and good coffee.

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