Using Soft Skills to Enhance Emotional Intelligence


Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a field of study that came to the forefront in the 1990’s. In recent years, it has gained momentum as a key aspect of career development. With experience, you can deliver various strategies, techniques, and methods to help clients increase their own degree of emotional intelligence and enhance personal competencies to their benefit.

Typically, you cannot change a client’s personality, but you can help a client to strengthen personal competencies. For example, if your client is introverted, nothing will change that. However, you can employ strategies to help a client with this personality trait to better manage his career.

When it comes to career development, a client’s competencies can be broken down into two categories: “hard skills” and “soft skills.” Hard skills are typically technical, task-based job requirements – the core competencies that would make a candidate qualified for a role. Soft skills, on the other hand, are the competencies most related to EI.

Soft skills enhance an individual’s interactions, job performance, and career prospects. They tend to be interpersonal and broadly applicable. Employers value soft skills and are more likely to hire a candidate or promote an employee who displays these skills than one who does not.

There are many ways that you can help a client to improve soft skills and, in turn, enhance Emotional Intelligence and overall career development. Here are some examples that you can apply in your one-on-one support services:

  • Career Decision Making: Your clients must make career decisions that are consistent with their values and desires. Ask introspective questions so that they can evaluate not only a job, company, and industry, but also their emotions.
  • Flexibility: Adaptability is crucial when someone is going through a career transition. Help your clients to focus on the bright future ahead rather than getting stuck on “looking back.”
  • Self-management: This soft skill takes personal accountability, maturity, and responsibility into consideration. Help your clients to recognize and manage impulses, moods, and behaviours according to the situation.
  • Ethics and Integrity: Truthfulness and honesty are qualities that are sometimes hard to find these days. Advise your clients not to fudge information on resumes or exaggerate in interviews.
  • Decision making: Advise clients to not make rushed decisions. When someone experiences anger or other strong emotions, advise him to examine the situation before choosing how to react to it.
  • Leadership: To an employer, knowing the company’s mission and vision is important, but modeling it for others is equally as important. Give your clients examples of effective leadership styles and associated behaviours.
  • Teamwork: Your clients need to be courteous, helpful, and approachable. An easygoing person gets along better with others. Advise your clients to consider the reasons and emotions of all other parties involved before judging any situation or person.
  • Respect for Others: If someone is temperamental, insensitive, or abrasive with others, he will have difficulty moving ahead. You can tangibly teach clients how to show respect. Remind them to be on time, shake hands, wait to be asked to be seated, and be polite to the receptionist.
  • Verbal Communication: Give your clients the language needed to be effective “on the job.” If an individual uses offensive words, derogatory terms, or inappropriate jokes, give an alternative by suggesting a politically correct term.
  • Empathy. Teach clients to identify cues by watching and listening before speaking. Rather than judging what the person is saying, try to understand the reason behind situations and the feelings that others might experience.
  • Relationship Building: Clients must not underestimate the importance of fitting into the corporate culture and relating to people effectively.
  • Conflict resolution: Ensure that your clients act rationally and calmly in difficult situations. Remind them to process and work through their emotions before confronting a colleague or boss.
  • Networking: Remind clients that networking is not about asking. Rather they should cultivate relationships by giving back.

Your clients can change their habits and improve their emotional intelligence by consistently working on their soft skills. Consistent, experiential practice allows new behaviours to become automatic. Give your clients various scenarios and help them learn new ways of thinking and acting. Then, give homework exercises to continue practicing the new behaviours. Anticipate setbacks as part of the ongoing process.

As a coach, you must play a great part in ongoing encouragement and reinforcement of good behaviours. Of course, you must also model good behaviour. You need a high degree of emotional intelligence to be a good coach in this area. So, practice improving your own EQ.

Are you looking for tangible strategies to enhance your client’s emotional intelligence? The Certified Work-Life Strategist program is designed to help you learn all about how Emotional Intelligence affects clients who are living, learning, and working in our emerging world of work. Emotional Intelligence is discussed in detail in Career Professionals of Canada’s  Certification Study Guides. CPC’s Certified Work-Life Strategist program, is designed to help you learn all about how Emotional Intelligence affects clients who are living, learning, and working in our emerging world of work. Learn much more about how you can enhance these soft skills and many others through CPC’s self-study certification programs.

Sharon Graham is founder and executive director of Career Professionals of Canada. Committed to setting the standard for excellence in the career development profession, Sharon has authored top selling paperback publications and textbooks, and has established a range of certificationprofessional developmentcommunity developmentmentoring and award programs. As executive director of CPC, she provides foresight and leadership within sector and ensures that the mandate of this national organization is upheld with integrity.


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I was looking into the connection between soft skills and EQ.
I got a better idea from the title of your post itself: Using Soft Skills to Enhance Emotional Intelligence.
You are absolutely right about soft skills helping in a better EI.

Thanks for your post