Exercises to develop emotional intelligence at work

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  1. Who are you

Knowing ourselves is a multifaceted process, and we have different ways of describing ourselves, which vary from day to day, who we are with and what we do. Our emotions and moods are changeable. Our personality may differ or even reflect that of the people around us. So “Who are you?” may have a spectrum of responses.

Who Are You is a creative approach to self-discovery in which we create personal zines or narratives and collages that reflect our personality in response to the question ‘Who are you?’ The exercise begins with a meditation in pairs, taking turns, in which one person asks ‘Who are you?’ and the pair gives a different answer each time. The variety of responses helps participants create a collage or mini-journal that expresses their personal stories.

It is good that we have a spectrum of answers, this exercise helps us accept that we are multidimensional people. We can be more aware of how we act in different situations with different people and better understand why this may be so.


A goal setting exercise can work very well as a tool to improve our self-management and motivation. We can first reflect on our current strengths by doing a self-assessment, and then identify areas for improvement, along with a timeline of when we want to see a difference.

pizza for leadership it’s a time-tested exercise that can be adapted and shaped to accommodate leaders and team members anywhere in the company structure. First, as if it were a blank canvas, participants can identify the skills, qualities and characteristics that they consider important to be an effective part of the group. They can then assess their ability in that area and create goals to become more emotionally intelligent members.

3. Everyday annoyances

We often have built-in responses to stressful situations that we repeatedly do and sometimes regret. Our instinctive reactions can also cause friction with others and create conflicts with members of our team. By identifying and questioning how we respond, we can better adapt to future situations.

“Annoyances” is an activity that rethinks our approach to uncomfortable situations. Things that can come up in everyday life, like a traffic jam, can make us feel bad because it destroys our plans. Instead, by thinking of alternative, more positive solutions, the group can change their mindset about everyday annoyances, seeing them as opportunities.

The key to the exercise is for teams to see how they can control their emotional reactions, take charge of their responses and better manage stress.

4. Heard, seen, respected

Developing our empathic skills begins with listening, understanding, and respecting people’s stories. We create empathy by putting ourselves in another person’s shoes and feeling how they might feel in a certain situation.

In this exercise, we can practice deep listening and empathy by working in pairs. One person is invited to tell a story of a time when they did not feel heard, seen or respected. The other person’s job is to listen deeply and not try to fix or judge the situation. At the end of the narrative, each person reflects on how she felt from her perspective, either listening or speaking.

Active listening exercises help us develop empathy and create a safe space for conversation that allows people to feel heard and understood. We create an environment in which we respect each other without judging, and relate to what they can feel.

5. Couple walk

When it comes to managing our emotions, going for a solo walk can do wonders for letting off steam or taking time to get away from a situation. Being outdoors allows us to cool off and connect with nature. Meeting a friend and walking together can help us communicate and express our ideas and thoughts much more freely, with more casual eye contact than if we were sitting across from each other in a cafe.

Walking with your partner is a simple and effective way to connect with another person, and its benefits are multiple: it increases trust, empathy and communication, all while energizing our body and refreshing our mind. This exercise consists of pairing up, if possible with someone not so well known in the organization, and taking a walk outdoors for a certain time.

You can suggest a topic for the participants to discuss, such as gratitude, and share what they are grateful for. Or, often it is best to let the conversation flow naturally, with few or many details, as in an everyday, informal conversation in nature.

6. Back comments

Talking about someone behind their back damages trust, creating a loss of credibility and trust. Feedback, both positive and negative, should be made constructively and openly. Discussing both sides of the story helps make amends and creates a flourishing space for the team to thrive.

In this exercise, teams talk about someone behind their back, but that person is present in the room, and what is discussed is positive and constructive. One person sits with their back to the room, and the others talk about her in the third person, pointing out her strengths and what they appreciate about her; and then what they would like more about this person.

This open method of giving feedback is essential to sustaining team efforts and learning to accept criticism. Everyone has the opportunity to be transparent about their strengths and weaknesses, and to feel supported by their teammates.