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Robin Hills



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E-learning: how to develop emotional intelligence skills


Training people in emotional intelligence online can be a highly successful way to develop individuals, but it needs to be supported offline to reap the greatest benefits.

With budgets for training and development being continually cut, it is important that any training intervention can be shown to add value to an organisation or to contribute to profitability.

Now more than ever, executives and HR professionals are feeling the pressure to make sure staff remain engaged and productive, cope with change and survive to ensure they are delivering the results that the business needs.

E -learning is part of a developing global industry growing at 5% year on year and expected to reach $300 billion by 2023.

Changes in behaviour concerning attention spans, ways that information is delivered and changes around learning need to be considered which drives the requirement for short, snappy, relevant and engaging content.

E -learning is part of a developing global industry growing at 5% year on year and expected to reach $300 billion by 2023.

The benefits of online learning

Courses are usually available online around the clock from anywhere in the world meaning that learners can get their training wherever they happen to be. They can learn at their own pace, at whatever time suits them and they can review and revisit the material many times.

E-learning programmes are becoming more widely accepted to support the development of skills that require teaching.

E-learning does not have to be another form of “death by PowerPoint”. Advances in software means that inspiring, engaging content can be developed easily that use animation and interactions.

When facts, information and data need to be delivered in a uniform manner, learning can be disseminated quickly and easily to a large number of people.

Because of this, much computer-based training and e-learning has a well-deserved reputation for being dull and uninspiring, with high rates of drop out and low completion rates.

E-learning does not have to be another form of “death by PowerPoint”. Advances in software means that inspiring, engaging content can be developed easily that use animation and interactions.

Good e-learning programmes have built in methods to test the knowledge and understanding of learners. Gamification of online learning means that progress is automatically tracked and rewarded. This encourages the learner and can be seen by those organising the training.

Soft skill development and online learning

Can online learning be used to support personal development in areas such as emotional intelligence?

People are getting more used to using the web and applications are improving day-by-day. Online learning of soft-skills can be effective as it’s more impartial and impersonal. However, emotional intelligence can’t be developed just by watching a few video lectures.

For many people, learning is about dialogue and practice with other human beings. This is particularly relevant in the development of emotional intelligence.

This vital component is missing from a purely computer-based e-learning training package. Certainly, people can understand the basic subject matter, they can learn how people can develop these skills and they can review real life examples where people have improved their capabilities.

Emotional intelligence can’t be developed just by watching a few video lectures.

Pure e-learning, itself, is not appropriate nor good enough and will not have the impact and outcomes expected and so will, in effect, be a waste of money.

Beyond pure e-learning are blended e-learning and instructor-led e-learning programmes. These are evolving and becoming more widely accepted as a good way to incorporate e-learning into personal development.

Rising to the challenge of using the medium of online learning, revolutionary methods are being incorporated into packages that focus on each individual learner to work on and around the specific issues that they are facing relevant to them within their workplace.

Several highly effective advanced behavioural techniques can be utilised in online programmes that challenge thinking and generate alternative strategies.

Learners can build their emotional intelligence skills by identifying and replacing unhelpful thinking patterns and habits through graded task assignments incorporating planning, goal-setting and one-to-one coaching.

Training emotional intelligence online

Emotional intelligence can be defined as combining thinking with feelings to make good quality decisions and to build authentic relationships.

To be as applicable as possible, online learning in the area of emotional intelligence needs to blend in some form of individual assessment, investigation/observation and coaching.

Crucially assignments incorporated into e-learning packages are designed to integrate into the users’ normal working activities so that new habits quickly become second nature. These assignments are supported with coaching online or offline.

The timeframe for working through a programme will vary from person to person. Completion can be expected to be a few weeks with progress reviews that reinforce the material before moving forward. These reviews can be at any time.

Live webinars and discussion forums, also, help learners to share experiences and learn from each other.

Any insights and learning can be utilised as a coaching catalyst and a framework for discussion by management. Ideally, a follow-up phase to reinforce the material and new ways of thinking is built in.

New evidence and the latest research can be easily incorporated into online programmes to ensure that the most recent and most up to date information is presented.

Live webinars and discussion forums, also, help learners to share experiences and learn from each other. One advantage here is that people can learn about the issues and challenges associated with the assignment in different countries and in different cultures.

Proceed with caution – trainer experience

Emotional intelligence is a complex construct that encompasses every aspect of life (and business), incorporating disciplines such as wellbeing, resilience, mindfulness, decision making, interpersonal relationships and human factors, to name only a few.

Emotional intelligence is fundamental to all learning and development. It is a subject that is continually undergoing qualitative and quantitative research supported by positive psychology and neuroscience.

Delivering emotional intelligence training online to reduce costs can be done efficiently and effectively. However, it is worth noting that this is often a topic that is often covered very superficially as a bolt-on to leadership and management and other personal development programmes.

To really develop emotional intelligence the applicability in business at every level and in pragmatuc ways needs to be understood and reindofred. Also, training online requires a different set of skills to training in live workshops.

Proceed with caution – hidden costs

The costs per person of emotional intelligence training delivered through an online approach are very attractive when compared with either coaching or traditional training.

It is worth repeating that emotional intelligence cannot be developed with pure e-learning and without the right levels of support. People have good intentions, but these can be derailed by life events and by people who have low levels of emotional intelligence.

Blended learning, incorporating quality personality and behavioural assessments (such as the EQ-i 2.0) and live workshops, is very helpful to build upon the knowledge and skills acquired through online learning.

However, the best intervention to support online emotional intelligence training is coaching delivered individually online or offline and this will involve extra costs.

Training emotional intelligence online gives a good return on investment, when managed appropriately, giving perceivable benefits in a matter of weeks, through improved job retention, reduced stress levels and improved performance results.

3 Responses

  1. Emotional Intelligence, to me
    Emotional Intelligence, to me, is a bit like chess. You can learn the basic ‘rules/ideas’ quite quickly, but then it’s a lifetime study.

    If that’s the starting point – lifetime study – then you’ll probably be using a number of ‘tools’ along the way – videos, books, workshops etc.

    We make short explainer videos with the idea that they can be used as part of other delivery methods e.g. within elearning, as part of a face-to-face course, as an pre-course starter, or as a taster to see if this is something you would like to develop further. In other words, it’s just a tool or resource which can be used in lots of different ways.

    If you’d like to see our EI video is on our website as part of our ‘workforce’ section here:

    Thanks for the article.


  2. Let me tell you that as much
    Let me tell you that as much as we train people to try and be more sensitive and observant when it comes to addressing customers, it’s not an easy solution! I reckon that a lot of people have their own emotions locked up in storage somewhere and have thrown away the key! No amount of service or education will help them to “connect” any better!

  3. I have worked at a company
    I have worked at a company that highly engages in e-learning and I have to say that I loathed every single lesson that I had to complete. I felt that each one of them was unnecessary and unmotivating. There wasn’t anything that encouraged me to pay full attention to the lessons as there wasn’t much of an incentive waiting for me at the end of the day.

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Robin Hills


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