Level I: Board Instructions Cards

The cards with the green backs are meant to be placed face down on the board. This serves as a reminder of how EQTunement works.

If you have your Conversational EQ deck, we encourage you to lay out the board as pictured to follow while you read this section.

Corrective Complex

The Corrective Complex is a like a knee-jerk reflex we all have during any conversation. Examples of corrections are the desire to fix a problem, heal someone's hurts, convert them to our beliefs, teach proper information and direct the overall outcome. It is said that typically 90% of all energy in conversations is devoted to convincing others of an opinion. Think of all the recent conversations you have had, or others have had with you. Can you think of people who seem to talk at you versus with you? Chances are you have done the same. This is an example of the Corrective Complex in action.

If you are constantly correcting, you develop a complex, others develop a complex, and the conversation ends up becoming more complex than it needs to be. On top of this, when we are given correction or direction, especially on issues we know need action or change, what is our instinctive response? It is human nature to naturally want to do nothing, or more often than not, the exact opposite.

  • How do you respond when someone interacts with you in corrective complex (they want to fix, heal, convert, teach, direct)?
  • Where do you recognize the Corrective Complex in your own life?
  • Who around you always operates out of Corrective Complex?

Collaborative Change

The opposite of the Corrective Complex is Collaborative Change. Collaborative Change is the overall objective with Conversational EQ. Collaborative Change occurs when both parties work together on how to action. This is when everybody is intrinsically motivated to participate in change.

Collaborative Change requires trusting that the person you are having a conversation with is an expert on themselves. You may have more knowledge, insights or experience, but they are the ones who know what it will take to motivate themselves for change better than you. Intrinsic motivation is far more powerful than extrinsic correction and direction.

This applies in all personal and professional applications. Examples include parents and children collaborating on homework habits, or employees who suggest their own professional development and performance improvement plans, or even the classic customer who talks themselves right into a purchase. Collaborative Change simply makes getting anything done with people that much easier.

To increase the capacity for Collaborative Change, one must develop three skills: self-awareness, a robust emotional vocabulary and empathy.

Self-awareness is the conscious knowledge of one's own character, feelings, motives, and desires.

A robust emotional vocabulary is the first step and primary sign of healthy emotional intelligence and helps to build resilience.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. This is different than sympathy which, while important, is rooted in feelings of pity and sorrow that can overtake us or cause inappropriate reactions.

Based upon these definitions, on a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your:

  • Self-awareness?
  • Emotional vocabulary?
  • Empathy?

Who do you know in your life that exemplifies collaborative change?


EQTunement is the skill we need to avoid the Corrective Complex and move a conversation towards Collaborative Change. To do this, we combine EQ, emotional intelligence, and the act of attunement.

Here are the actual meanings of each according to the dictionary:

  • Emotional Intelligence: the capacity to be aware of, express and control emotions - responding appropriately (helping others do the same).
  • Attunement: to bring into accord, harmony, or sympathetic relationship. 

EQ is extremely important for success. It can be the single greatest determining factor when negotiating price on a sale, knowing where you stand with managers at work, or avoiding hurtful outbursts in marriage and parenting. Just to give a few examples.

While EQ is important, the techniques to bring accord, harmony and a sympathetic relationship into a conversation become the accelerators to Collaborative Change. In the context of attunement, a sympathetic relationship means sharing a common understanding and feeling.

  • Where have you experienced EQTunement in your life?
  • Where can you see you need more EQTunement?


The word "Why" immediately triggers the Corrective Complex in every conversation. Therefore, using the word "Why" is considered a penalty card in Conversational EQ. Take a moment to reflect on these two questions:

  1. "Why aren't your relationships doing better?"
  2. "What challenges are you experiencing with your relationships right now?"

Can you notice the difference between each just by changing the word "Why" and adding some EQTunement? Try these:

  1. "Why didn't you do your homework?"
  2. "I see you didn't do well on your assignment. Can we talk about what happened?"

One more, this time adding in emotional vocabulary:

  1. "Can I tell you why this isn't enough?"
  2. "Would it be OK if I shared the reasons I feel insecure with our progress?"


Imagine a couple having a conversation:

"John, I know you work really hard for this family and I am grateful for all you do, but..."

As soon as the word "But" is introduced, what happens to the conversation? The word "But" acts like an eraser and reduces the potential for Collaborative Change. We have all experienced conversations when someone starts with a series of compliments, only to add in a "But." We are so conditioned to this, that when we hear any compliment at all, we immediately expect the "But," followed by everything negative. (Some describe this as "waiting for the other shoe to drop.")

Unfortunately, especially in children, we learn that positive encouragement is only used to manipulate us into change. This triggers the Corrective Complex. Therefore, we advise not to use the word "But" at all and treat it as a penalty card.

Another benefit of eliminating the word "But" is that it forces you to slow down a conversation, think about what you are saying and come up with alternatives. This always prevents saying things you later regret. Talking slower is a sign of EQ and can be practiced.

"But" (Advanced)

There is a productive way to use the word "But" -- when it is used to erase a negative before a positive. This is not natural for most and requires intentional practice. Here is an example:

"John, I am feeling very angry with our conversation last night. But I know you had the best intentions and our relationship is the priority. So can we talk about it some more tonight?"

Level I: See, Hear, Understand, Care

In order to achieve EQTunement, we want to communicate the following in every conversation:

  1. "I see you."
  2. "I hear you."
  3. "I understand you."
  4. "I care for you."


A "J" symbol represents the currency of joy. Joy is how we measure the effectiveness of our EQTunement and convert emotional intelligence into emotional wealth.

We define Joy as the feeling of being glad to be together. When we enjoy our conversations, achieving Collaborative Change becomes much easier. When we drift into the Corrective Complex, we do not experience joy. We are not glad to be having a conversation. The more you invest into joy and use EQTunement, the more effective you will be in having any conversation that requires action, change and results.

During any conversation, we carefully monitor the altitude of joy and if it the conversation is staying in flight towards Collaborative Change. If the joy come crashing down, and we lose all our joy currency, then that is a sign that the conversation needs to be adjusted and relaunched in the right direction. Since every conversation is unique in context and personality of participants, EQ--the capacity to recognize and respond appropriately to emotions--is absolutely critical here to monitor and manage joy.

SOAr (Level II)

To propel the conversation towards joy, you will learn to make every conversation "SOAr" in Level II. This is an acronym for:

  1. Summaries
  2. Open Questions
  3. Appreciations
  4. reflections

Conversations with H.E.A.R.T.S. (Level III)

Level III teaches how to have conversations with:

  • Hearing
  • Empathy
  • Appreciation
  • Relfection
  • Trust
  • Safety

For now, let's do a deep dive into EQTunement.

Next: EQTunement >

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