Can Emotional Intelligence be Learned?

Can Emotional Intelligence be Learned- Daniel Goleman.


For ages, people have debated if leaders are born or made. So too goes the debate about emotional intelligence. Are people born with certain levels of empathy, for example, or do they aquire empathy as a result of life’s experiences?  The answer is both. Scientific inquiry strongly suggests that there is a genetic component to emotional intelligence. Psychological and developmental research indicates that nurture plays a role as well.

One thing is certain emotional intelligence increases with age. Yet even with maturity, some people still need training to enhance their emotional intelligence. Unfortunately, far too many training programmes that intend to build leadership skills- including emotional intelligence – are a waste of time and money. The problem is simple they focus on the wrong part of the brain.

Emotional intelligence is born largely in the neurotransmitters of the brain’s limbic system – this governs our feelings, impulses, and drives. Research indicates that the limbic system learns best through motivation, extended practice, and feedback. Compare this with the type of learning that goes on in the neocortex, which governs analytical and technical ability. The neocortex grasps concepts and logic. Not surprisingly – but mistakenly – it is also the part of the brain targeted by most training programmes aimed at enhancing emotional intelligence.

To enhance emotional intelligence, organizations must refocus their training to include the limbic system. They must help people break old behavioural habits and establish new ones. That not only takes much more time that conventional training programs, it also requires an individualized approach. Its important to emphasize that building one’s emotional intelligence cannot-will not-happen without sincere desire and concerted effort. A brief seminar won’t help; nor can one buy a how-to manual. It is much harder to learn to emphasize-to internalize empathy as a natural response to people- than it is to become adept at regression analysis. But it can be done. “Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm” wrote Ralph Waldo Emerson.

In light of the upcoming EQ summit in London, Davitt Corporate Partners will be discussing each of components of Emotional Intelligence at Work. These include: Self Awareness, Self Regulation, Motivation, Empathy and Social Skill.


Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to:

Develop Emotional Intelligence in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values


DavittCorporatePartners – Organisational Psychologists and Experts in Building Emotional Intelligence

1 month to go to the Leadership & EQ Summit – London – 9th March

Davitt Corporate Partners are proud to be a Premium Sponsor of the Leadership & Emotional Intelligence Summit in London on 9th March 2012.

Click here for further information or visit

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DavittCorporatePartners – Organisational Psychologists and Experts in Building Emotional

HR Magazine Article on EQ & Leadership

HR Magazine has become the official press sponsor of the Leadership & Emotional Intelligence Summit on 9th March in London

Today, they have published this article by Martyn Newman on their website.

DavittCorporatePartners – Organisational Psychologists and Experts in Building Emotional Intelligence

Talent Management


Organisations need more than an effective development strategy to ensure they have a ready supply of capable leaders. Development is just one component in a comprehensive talent management system. Talent management can be defined as a mission-critical process that ensures organizations have the quantity and quality of people in place to meet current and future business priorities.


This process covers all aspects of an employees life cycle, starting with when the organization selects the right leaders, continuing to when the person’s performance is aligned to the organisation’s strategic goals, with an effective performance management system. It is fuelled with effective development and leadership succession efforts. Improving the quality of leadership involves doing all of these things well.


HR professionals were asked to rate the importance of each of their talent systems in terms of its impact on organizational success. Although development was deemed important by the majority of them, even more HR professionals considered other systems critical for organizational performance. On the whole, talent management is clearly a driver of:

– Leadership selection
– Development programmes and learning opportunities for frontline leaders
– Development programmes and learning opportunities for mid-level leaders
– Development programmes and learning opportunities for senior leaders
– Performance management
– Leadership succession

Welcome to Sarah Mawhinney

DCP would like to welcome our newest member of staff, Sarah Mawhinney.

Sarah has joined us as an Organisational Psychology Intern.

She holds a BA in Psychology from University College Dublin and an MSc in Occupational Psychology from the University of Nottingham. During her Masters she completed her research dissertation on a “healthy workplaces project” with the World Health Organisation in Geneva.

Prior to joining DCP, Sarah worked in the financial services and recruitment sector with an Australian management consultancy firm.

She is certified by the British Psychological Society to administer and interpret psychometric assessments at level A and level B (NEO-PIR), and is a graduate member of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

Leveraging Career Assets – a Key to Success

By Andrew Harley

Most readers of this article may own a car and many will drive a car on a daily basis. We get in, start the car, drive off and arrive at our destination. Very few of us are aware or conscious of the complex mesh of knowledge, experience, judgement and co-ordination that are involved in what, for many of us, is a basic, routine daily task. There is a name for this – it is called “unconscious competence”. This term describes behaviour that is so deeply embedded in our routine that we do not know that we know how to do it!

Now driving is a fairly basic example. When we shift our attention to what happens in the workplace, the picture does not appear as clear. Although the underlying principles are the same, the most basic of jobs has an element of unconscious competence. The more senior the role, the more performance becomes a function not just of what is done but of the way in which it is done. High performers demonstrate exceptional levels of unconscious competence. While this is taken for granted when the economy and organisations are in a “steady state” it demands close attention in times of discontinuous change.

Traditional careers are a bit like driving a car. We join an organisation, progress at variable speed to our destination – retirement. Along the way, we acquire experience, knowledge, skills and some wisdom. If, however, we ask individuals about what they do, the chance is that they will answer in terms of their role or responsibility. Typically this will be “I’m Head of Logistics” or “I’m responsible for the Marketing Department”. These responses are spontaneous; they reveal how the individual sees him or herself. The label is the job title, an allusion to what they are there to do and why they are in the organisation. This response does not acknowledge of what they are capable or, critically, at what they are unconsciously competent.

Everyone makes their job their own. Subtly they shape it to fit their own skills and experience. The job itself is not subverted; rather it is adapted so that the individual finds the easiest way for him or herself to deliver the required results.

Essentially, each of us has a unique set of gifts that we learn to deploy in the context of the job that we do. The boundary between what we do and what the job is becomes hazy. For most, the shorthand of “I’m an accountant” substitutes for the acknowledgement of a genuine description of capability.

When the world changes, however, it is barely adequate to retain the label “Accountant” when the market is awash with hundreds of “Accountants” all looking for a job. Taking a less cataclysmic view, is it sufficient to expect an accountant to make the transition to Finance Director? Perhaps not! In both cases, decisions to appoint will be made not on the basis of a job title but on a judgement about how someone might do the job. The more senior the role, the greater the impact of “how things are done” not just “what is done”.

The individual’s capability, the “how” they do things, is the exercise of their knowledge, skills, experience and judgement. The job context has an influence but this is more about the impact of organisational climate and culture on the individual and the degree to which it fits with the individual’s preferred way of working.

As change quickens in pace and security of employment is in flux, the people best placed to grasp the opportunities will be those who know best their capabilities and can match their knowledge, skills, experience and judgement to new and different roles.

An interesting observation is that, when asked about what they have achieved most people struggle to identify anything significant. This is not because the achievement is absent but it is associated with “just doing my job”. Experience from working with a wide range of different individuals argues compellingly for a simple self-assessment process to begin to reveal the “career assets” – the transferable knowledge, skills, experience and judgement. In outline the process follows this kind of flow:

  • Think of targets, goals or objectives met;
  • Examine what you decided to do and how you did it;
  • Identify what would have happened had you not acted;
  • Analyse

o what you did,

o how you decided,

o how you got resources,

o who you had to persuade and how.

The results of your analysis should describe your career assets. This understanding of career assets allows the individual to make informed decisions about where and how to invest their effort in the future.

So far, this piece has focused on the individual and their fit to the organisation. The same applies to organisations and the extent to which they understand the human capital represented by the workforce.

In the same way that the individual is at the mercy of external factors, so is the organisation. An understanding of the capability of an organisation’s human capital can be a key strategic lever in meeting the challenge of a changing environment.


To learn more about our Career services, please contact the office: +353-1-6688891 or

Discover how DavittCorporatePartners can help you to:

Develop Emotional Intelligence in Your Organisation

Win the War for Talent

Realise Individual Potential

Align Behaviour with Corporate Values


Andrew Harley is a Senior Associate at DavittCorporatePartners – Corporate Psychologists


Tips for Sticking to Your New Year Resolution

Happy New Year to our clients and friends from all of us in DCP…

At this time of year our thoughts turn to what kind of improvements we can make to our lives in work and at home. Most of us will make New Year’s Resolutions this year and work hard at putting them into practice for a couple of weeks in January, but how many of us will manage to carry our good intentions through to the rest of the year?

The psychologist Richard Wiseman has found that over 50% of people who commit to making improvements in their lives are confident they will be successful, however, in reality he found that only 12% of people actually were.  So how can we improve our chances of sticking to our plans and reaching our goals for the year ahead?

In his book “59 Seconds” Wiseman offers these ten tips on how we can all be more successful in keeping our resolutions and reaching our goals in the New Year.

1) Make only one resolution, your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.

2) Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to think about your resolution and instead take some time out a few days before and reflect upon what you really want to achieve.

3) Avoid previous resolutions; deciding to re-visit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.

4) Don’t run with the crowd and go with the usual resolutions.  Instead think about what you really want out of life.

5) Break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals that are concrete, measurable, and time-based.

6) Tell your friends and family about your goals, thus increasing the fear of failure and eliciting support.

7) Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals by creating a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim.

8) Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal, thus maintaining motivation and a sense of progress.

9) Make your plans and progress concrete by keeping a handwritten journal, completing a computer spreadsheet or covering a notice board with graphs or pictures.

10) Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary set-back rather than a reason to give up altogether.

Merry Christmas

Xmas pic

DCP would like to wish all our clients, colleagues and associates a very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Our offices are closing on the 22nd December and re-opening on the 3rd January.

Biofeedback & Clinical Psychophysiology

Your body talks, do you listen?

What “biofeedback” is and why this not-so-new therapy could offer new treatment possibilities for many conditions

Biofeedback/clinical psychophysiology will help you:

  • reduce stress both at work and in your personal life,
  • manage chronic pain (migraine, back pain, shoulder pain, repetitive motion injuries or injuries incurred at work etc.)
  • ease or eliminate persistent problems such as panic/anxiety and depression.


Fig 2 A computer generated feedback screen linked to one of the physiological systems a person is interested in learning to control.


This approach appeals to many types of people including those of us in an industrial environment. Everyone has used a thermometer at some time. You take your temperature; if it’s normal, you just get on with life, but if it’s too high you may go running to your GP or looking for a cold compress. This is a basic form of “biofeedback” – you’ve used a device to measure your physiology and then changed your behaviour in order to induce your body to behave itself.  Biofeedback therapy is as simple as that; it’s about using a device to observe your body and responding to what it tells you.

Another biofeedback device you are familiar with is a mirror. You see your image and change the way you do something (even if it’s as simple as brushing your hair or fixing your shirt/blouse).  You change something because of what you became aware of. That’s why there are mirrors in gyms (not just for posing).  You can see yourself doing the exercise and alter the way you do the exercise if you need to.

Clinical psychophysiologists/ biofeedback therapists use a computer to measure and feedback physiological changes to a client. The difference between a biofeedback instrument and a mirror is that the biofeedback instrument feeds back information about processes that are usually below your awareness such as heart rate, the way you breathe, blood pressure, temperature, pupil size, the way we handle sugar, actually almost everything we do to live.  If we were sensitive to what our body is doing all the time, we’d go nuts. There’s just too much happening.  So, most of the time, in order to stay sane, we filter most of it out. The important thing is that if we become aware of what we are doing we can learn to change it.


Fig 1 A monitoring screen from a biofeedback device showing your electrical brain activity (EEG), muscle activity from your shoulders, pulse and your respiration rate.

Added to that, every emotion and thought is both psychological and physiological.  If we feel fear or anxiety lots of things happen in our body. For example, our heart rate increases, blood pressure goes up, pupils dilate, our mouth goes dry, digestion stops (butterflies in our tummy), breathing becomes more shallow, hands begin to sweat and go cold etc. It’s pretty much the same in lots of situations. When the boss shouts at us, we shout at people reporting to us, colleagues are annoyed at us or when a car comes barrelling down the road as we’re crossing we will react.  Sometimes it’s just a reaction we feel and keep to ourselves but it’s always there. These reactions can become an issue very quickly in both the workplace and in our personal lives.

If you want more information about biofeedback/clinical psychophysiology contact us here at DCP or call Daren Drysdale (our associate) at 086 872 7668.

Hogan Assessments with DCP

DCP are now offering the full range of Hogan assessments to our clients

DavittCorporatePartners – Organisational Psychologists and Experts in Hogan Assessment Systems