Washington Lawyer - January 2018 - 10
CAREER & PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
QUICK-START TIPS TO BOOST
YOUR EI SKILLS
By Michelle Cotter Richards
motional intelligence is a set of social and emotional skills that we
tap into to better understand ourselves and others. Michelle Cotter
Richards, a lawyer and executive coach who works with other lawyers,
tells us why this is an important skill to master.
Lawyers have emotions and are intelligent. What
more do they need to know about emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence, or EI, is a collection
of skills that comprise the ability to (1) identify,
(2) understand, and (3) utilize your emotions in an
intentional way. EI is especially critical for lawyers,
many of whom have overdeveloped their cognitive
abilities at the expense of their emotional ones. The
resulting disconnect is evident from the enormous
challenges our profession faces when it comes to
stress, mental health, and substance abuse.
Emotions are extremely powerful. They drive our
behavior, decisions, relationships, and self-image.
The upside of harnessing such a powerful force is
self-evident. Developing EI is not only one of the
best ways to do that, it is also one of the easiest
If you are new to the concept of EI, a good way to
get started is to become more familiar with your
emotions. Set an alarm on your phone to go off at
the same time each day. When the alarm sounds,
record one word to describe your predominantfeeling. After you have recorded this feeling, ask
"EI is especially critical for lawyers,
many of whom have overdeveloped
their cognitive abilities at the expense
of their emotional ones."
yourself two questions: "Why am I feeling this way?"
and "What can I do to continue feeling this way or
stop feeling this way?"
At the end of the week, review what you recorded
and look for any patterns that emerge. Are your
feelings mostly positive or negative? Are there
common triggers for your emotions? Did you
identify any useful ways to manage your emotions?
If you practice this habit daily, you will notice that
you are better able to identify and understand
your feelings, which is the foundation for further
This approach is just one simple way to start
building your EI. For more information about EI
or individualized EI support, the D.C. Bar's very
own free and confidential Lawyer Assistance
Program (LAP) is a tremendous resource. To
reach an LAP counselor, call 202-347-3131 or
Michelle Cotter Richards of MCR Strategies is a lawyer
and executive coach for other lawyers.
Watch Richards discuss the value
of EI for lawyers at youtube.com/
Michelle Cotter Richards by John Matthews
* JANUARY 2018