We spend a lot of time talking about how emotional intelligence is a teachable skill. In fact, one of the advantages of taking EQ assessments is to understand where your biggest opportunities for improvement are. What a lot of EQ experts don’t talk about, however, is what to expect from emotional intelligence training. What is emotional intelligence training like? What kind of gains can be expected? What should the prospective EQ student keep in mind before going into an emotional intelligence training program?

1. Emotional Intelligence Training Is Challenging

Something that most people working in the emotional intelligence field don’t often admit is that improving your EQ can be a difficult process. The reason why emotional intelligence training is harder than it looks has to do with the way we learn. Specifically, with the concept of cognitive learning and emotional learning. Cognitive learning, like learning skills and expanding your knowledge, works by expanding and enhancing your existing neural circuitry. It builds on existing knowledge and adds to it.

Emotional learning, on the other hand, needs to change years of habitual wiring before it can take hold. The way you process emotions and communicate is hard wired after years of being a reflexive action. Those kinds of habits take time to unlearn, and they need to be unlearned before good habits can replace them. In many ways, emotional intelligence training is as much unlearning as it is learning.

2. Emotional Intelligence Training Doesn’t End When You Leave The Seminar

Or the intensive. Or the conference, workshop, retreat, or class. Think about it: you spend a whole life time picking up bad habits, poor communication practices, and negative social tendencies. Thinking that they can be unlearned and replaced in a few hours or even days is unrealistic, to say the least.

Emotional intelligence training is the first step on the journey to becoming more emotionally intelligent. The techniques and strategies you can learn from a training session or a course are a foundation and a path, but they are also something that needs to be practiced and reinforced daily.

3. Emotional Intelligence Training Is Not One Size Fits All

There are a lot of common techniques and strategies that might be introduced at your emotional intelligence training session. A lot of them will make anyone a better listener, communicator, and empathizer. BUT these common techniques are not the end of the story.

To get the most out of your emotional intelligence training, you need to understand where you need the most work, and focus on improving those areas. Going into a training session with a full understanding of where your biggest opportunities are will make your training sessions much more productive, because you can work on the techniques that will benefit you.

Getting the most out of your emotional intelligence training means having to do a little bit of homework prior to the session. If the training doesn’t begin with a thorough emotional intelligence assessment (most do), make sure to get one on your own beforehand. Then, work with your trainer to identify a few areas where you feel you can get the most impact, and focus on those. Instead of looking for a one size fits all solution, work with your trainer to create a program just for you.

4. Expectations Are Important

Study after study has found that the expectations you bring with you to training can seriously impact the results. That means if you go in expecting to fail, or take to hear the misconception that people can’t change for the better, your results will not be as good as someone who went in expecting nothing but success.

It’s important to remember that emotional intelligence is a skill. Just like any skill, it CAN be learned. If you can teach yourself how to cook, or how to pilot a plane, then you can teach yourself to be more emotionally intelligent. Keeping a positive attitude will help you be a better student, and will be much more beneficial for you.