Research Paper By Twanette Fourie
(Behavioural Intelligence Coach, SOUTH AFRICA)
It is accepted that coaching requires conscious observation of the client’s behaviour as part of the core competencies noted by the International Coach Federation (ICF). By implication a keen observation of the client’s behaviour (verbal and non-verbal) will require an informed response by the coach which in turn creates a trusted environment within which the client can progress. In this regard the ICF states that coaching need be conducted in a way that offers the client a trusted and intimate experience. Thus the ICF notes
co-creating the relationship
with the client as one of the core competencies of a professional coach in order to establish a trusting and intimate coaching environment. In addition Schutz’s theory of interpersonal communication needs posits that when both parties in a communication encounter’s need for control, inclusion and affection are met a trusting relationship is established. This article endeavours to understand the value of behavioural intelligence as an informed response and Schutz’s interpersonal communication needs theory as a means to create a trusting and intimate coaching relationship.
This article focuses on the external observable behaviour of a client whilst being mindful of the underlying emotions, feelings, beliefs and thoughts that drive the client’s behaviour. This allows the coach to support the client to respond behaviourally intelligent. Such a trusting relationship can only be established in a safe and intimate environment as the result of applying the core competencies of the ICF. Therefore behavioural intelligence is a critical factor to assist the client to align their internal world (EQ) with their external results (Behavioural intelligence) by growing cognitively aware of the relationship between their thought and behaviour world. This will empower the client to willfully choose the best strategic action to advance their situation / relationship / circumstance.
This discussion unfolds by means of understanding the nature of behaviour and behavioural intelligence in relation to emotional intelligence. From there on the discussion progresses to understand the relationship of the aforementioned within the coaching encounter. The value of Schutz’s interpersonal communication needs theory in relation to the coaching encounter closes the discussion.
What Is Behaviour?
According to social psychology and research in behaviour modification, behaviour describes the interaction between a persons’ reaction to internal and or external stimuli.
Triandis concurs that behaviour refers to
a broad class of reactions by an organism to any stimuli (internal or external to the organism) (1989, 201).
This definition is consistent with Sarafino, who defines behaviour as
anything a person does, typically in response to internal or external events (1996, 4).
Behaviour is also described with reference to feelings and emotions when behaviour is defined as the observerable manifestation of a person’s feelings and emotions.
What Is Behavioural Intelligence?
Evan Carmichael states that
behavioural intelligence focuses on overt or externally observerable behaviour as opposed to covert internal behavioural transactions.
He describes it as
Behavioral Intelligence is a set of skills and abilities used to select and execute at will the right behaviours to be effective with people and situations. To this end behavioral intelligence draws from competencies such as effective thinking, decision making and effective follow-through behaviours. Behavioural Intelligence is referred to as the capacity to observe, identify, articulate and leverage behaviour and the speed with which it is done.
Carmichael states that
A person with a high level of behavioural intelligence can detect and identify extra aspects of behaviour and derive more meaning from them than others through mitigating the ambiguous nature of behaviour.
Such people are better positioned to use that information to interact with another person, forming faster and stronger relationships, influencing their decisions, dealing with their emotions, detecting deception or understanding motivations behind issues. Behaviourally intelligent people increase the level of effectiveness and efficiency in their people relations. Carmichael summarises a behaviourally intelligent person as someone that can make a conscious decision about his or her next behaviour rather than to merely react impulsively. Therefore a behaviorally intelligent person basis his or her calculated response to a situation on their interpretation of external factors mindfully evaluated against their internal factors including emotions, feelings and thoughts. Thus the behaviorally intelligent person responds cautiously and do not react impulsively.
How Does Behavioural Intelligence Relate To Emotional Intelligence?
Behavioral intelligence differs from emotional intelligence in that emotional intelligence focuses on how a person internalises his or her impulses and controls it in order not to react emotively. Therefore emotional intelligence focuses inwardly on the internal feelings and emotions of an internal cognitive thought as opposed to the externally observerable behaviour which is a product of the internal thought. Behavioural intelligence refers to the ability to consciously choose the most suitable and appropriate behaviour to adopt to advance a situation. It focuses on the external requirements; therefore behavioral intelligence suggests that a person opts for what type of behavioral response would be suitable to meet an objective. It is thus more action oriented and less focused on internalisation and meaning that contextaulises a person’s feelings and thoughts.
Clive Hook posits that behavioral intelligence is the embodiment of Emotional Intelligence. He notes that what a person says or does (externally observerable behaviour) is much more significant than what one thinks or feels (internalised thoughts, emotions and feelings). Hook argues that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain (executive function of the brain), enables a person to choose their next behaviour appropriately as opposed to react out of instinct or emotional irrationality (lower back end of the brain where external sensory stimuli is stored on a primary basis). A person that strategises his or her response using the executive function of the brain (pre frontal cortex) can offer a calculated response as a result of the evaluation of the primary sensory information (lower back part of the brain).
Of interest from Hook’s work is that behavioral intelligence implies that a person moves away from his or her growing awareness of external stimuli such as other people’s behaviour to an internal view of his or her own locus of control of self-management that supports him or her to respond and not react. He posits that typically people start acquiring behavioral intelligence by noticing other people’s verbal and non-verbal behaviour. Much like what the coach does in the coaching encounter with their client. From there on a behaviourally intelligent person grows more aware of their self-management as he or she moves from being aware and focused of others’ behaviours to actively managing his or her own behavioural response in a strategically intelligent manner. This shift in focus positions a behaviourally intelligent person to offer the most suitable and appropriate behavioural response to a situation whilst still keeping within the context.
Hook contextualise that no behaviour is inherently good or bad – it is context based to determine what type of behavioural response is most appropriate to meet the need or the objective. This is the real secret of emotional intelligence. A person uses the brain (pre-frontal cortex) to limit or inhibit a reaction just long enough to make a conscious decision of an appropriate response as opposed to an impulsive reaction. He notes that on average it takes 0.6 seconds to move the thought transaction to the pre frontal cortex to make an executive decision as opposed to immediately react in an impulsive manner. In this regard he notes that it is beneficial to learn labels and vocabulary to describe different behaviours as it dramatically increases a persons’ ability to process internal transactions from primary stimuli input to the pre frontal cortex for executive decision making and appropriate response.