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 wilfully 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 focusses on how a person internalises his or her impulses and controls it in order not to react emotively. Therefore emotional intelligence focusses 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 focussed 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.
Coaching Application of Behavioural Intelligence
Clive Hook argues that behavioural intelligence is an essential tool for effective communication encounters such as for managers, leaders, facilitators and negotiators. Evan Carmichael adds that one of the constraints that many clients experience is a psychological or emotional barrier which causes unhelpful goal blocking, or performance interfering emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviours. As identified earlier in this discussion, there is a relationship between the internal and external stimuli and exchange of behaviour based thereon from an emotional intelligence and behavioural intelligence perspective. In this regard Carmichael raises the value of the cognitive behavioural approach to coaching that appreciates the importance of the thought world of the client, however it focusses on the appropriate behavioural response in order to move the client forward.
According to Carmichael the cognitive behavioural approach recognises the relationship between behaviour, thoughts, emotions and feelings as it constitutes the thought world and ultimate operational system of the client that produces the external behaviour. He refers to the value of cognitive behavioural coaching which acknowledges the interaction between a client’s internal and external worlds as a pivotal factor in the coaching process to successfully bring about behavioural change. The premise of the cognitive approach to coaching is that the client’s thoughts influence their behaviour. Thus there is much value for a coach to accurately read and interpret their client’s behaviour and respond behaviourally intelligent to serve the client to identify emotions, thoughts and feelings that might sabotage their effective behavioural response.
Cognitive behavioural coaching adopts a psychological (internal) and behavioural (external) approach. The coach can help a client to identify, examine and change unhealthy thoughts, feelings and beliefs, and to adopt more realistic, positive and effective thinking to produce supporting behaviour. Cognitive behavioural coaching focusses the client to develop healthy and productive behaviours as wells as support the client’s emotional development. Thus the coach supports the client to increase their awareness of their automated thinking patterns which can be described by the analogy of a hard drive. The coach helps the client to identify more accurate and useful ways of viewing a situation leading to more behaviourally intelligent decisions and responses. To be able to assist the client to achieve this state of awareness the coach will benefit from a high sense of behavioural intelligence in order to correctly interpret the client’s behaviour and to be able to respond in a behaviourally intelligent manner.
Emotional intelligence and behavioural intelligence meets in the coaching arena when the client becomes aware of their internal thought world and accompanied feelings and emotions, however chooses to focus on the appropriate external behavioural response that will support them to advance their situation to meet their goals. This article posits that the internal and external stimuli are transcribed as internal thoughts, feelings and emotions which in turn mould and drive externally observerable behaviour. This transaction is an integrated and interrelated part of a person’s make up and will manifest for both coach and client in the coaching arena and may not be ignored. Carmichael cautions that coaches need to be mindful of the external behavioural world and the internal thought world of the client. The cognitive process assists a client to align their behavioural expression and thought world as the operating system that drives their behaviour. However he warns as with any form of coaching the intervention will fail the client if the coach does not engage with compassion and create a trusted and safe place through acknowledging the client’s psychological needs. He concludes that a coach who ignores the emotions of his client will miss a crucial element for success.
This brings us to the initial distinction between behavioural intelligence and emotional intelligence. Coaches who incorporate emotional intelligence and self-knowledge know that feelings are potential sources of useful information. Emotional self-awareness produces self-knowledge and is a foundation for success. It is thus beneficial for coaches to be mindful of emotional context whether focusing on external observerable behaviour or internal drivers thereof. After all, emotions are linked to cognition. Derived from this we can use the analogy of an Ice berg that describes the interactive nature of the behavioural expression of a person through word choice and body language as the observerable aspects above the water mark of the ice berg. Underneath the water mark of the Iceberg lays the submerged thought and emotional world as the operating system that drives the behaviour.
Is Schutz’s Interpersonal Communication Needs Theory Relevant To The Coaching Encounter?
Schutz’s interpersonal communication needs theory sets the scene for the coach and client to establish a trusting environment within which behavioural adjustments based on internal insights may follow. According toWikipedia Schutz stated in 1958 that
According to the (interpersonal communication needs) theory three dimensions of interpersonal relations were deemed to be necessary and sufficient to explain most human interaction: Inclusion, Control and Affection.
Schutz posits that according to the level that a person feels that they have a measure of control of a communication encounter, belong there (feels included) and feel cared for they will be an effective participant in the communication encounter. Schutz states that people communicate (such as to elicit a coach) to gratify felt needs or wants according to Communication Quarterly Volume 40, Issue 3, 1992.
A person will participate in a communication encounter such as coaching encounter if the statement
I find you likable if I like myself in your presence
is a reality for them. Furthermore Schutz’s Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation (FIRO) as part of the interpersonal communication needs theory, posits that if someone such as a coach
create an atmosphere within which I like myself
a communication participant such as a client may experience
affection/openness (being cared for) and will be able to get feedback.
In such a trusted, cared for and intimate arena it is likely to see how a coach can assist a client to identify and turn feelings into behaviour and to understand the origin thereof. This level of openness according to Schutz will only persist if the coach can lead the client to co-create an environment within which both feels their need for control, inclusion and affection (care) has been met. In such a trusting environment the coach will be able to provide feedback to the client regarding possible destructive behaviours or beliefs the coach may have noticed. Therefore to be able to guide the client to authentic insight into his or her thought world requires the client to trust the coach which can only be established if there is a feeling of safety and security. A sense of safety and security is the result of the client feeling that his or her need to feel in control, included and cared for is met.
From a coaching application perspective it is once the needs for control, inclusion and affection have been met that the coach can through recognition and acknowledgement motivate the client toward movement or support them to bounce back if they have lapsed during their journey towards their goal. Without this sense of intimacy the coaching interaction will be a mere conversation, a meaningless exchange of information. To create such a trusting coaching relationship we draw amongst others from psychology and in specific from Schutz’s theory of interpersonal communication needs to establish the successful role a coach can play to establish the trusting and intimate engagement needed for a client to open up to a coach. As John C Maxwell states in The 8 pillars of excellence, people care little for how much you know until they know how much you care.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fundamental_interpersonal_relations_orientation accessed 09.06.13
http://www.newintelligence.com.au/site/behavioural-intelligence.php website accessed 22.06.13
Communication Quarterly Volume 40, Issue 3, 1992 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01463379209369845 accessed 09.06.13