The rules for work are changing. We’re being judged by a new yard stick: not just how smart we are, or by our training and expertise, but also by how we handle ourselves and each other.”

-Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

A big buzz in many industries today is about a person’s emotional intelligence, otherwise known as EI or HEI in Healthcare Emotional Intelligence. Simply stated, EI is the capacity to blend thinking and feeling to make optimal decisions. This is key to having a successful relationship with yourself and others.

What does this mean for you as a Professional in the Healthcare world?

Consider two caregivers Sally and Joan caring for an anxious bed bound client, Bob who needs assistance with most of his Activities of Daily Living. Sally is a competent caregiver who performs her tasks with appropriate organization and precision. She provides the right treatment with the needed tools, but she doesn’t attempt to calm the patient or instill a sense of confidence and might not even pick up on Bob’s anxiety. Another caregiver, Joan, is not quite as thorough or experienced. She may even take a bit longer to figure out exactly what to do, but she is verbally comforting and may even use a touch of humor as she goes about her tasks. She may put a hand on the patient’s shoulder to let him know what she is doing next or take an extra moment to massage his head as she bathes him. Bob’s anxiety may resolve in the same amount of time, but the patient experience may be very different. Please note that this is not a differentiation between personality types, but it is about Joan recognizing Bob’s anxiety and matching her feelings and actions to accommodate.

According to Goleman, a psychologist who helped to popularize EI, there are five main elements of emotional intelligence:

• Self-awareness

• Self-regulation

• Motivation

• Empathy

• Social Skills

These five competencies are sometimes innate but the brilliance is that they can be learned. In healthcare, Emotional Intelligence is essential to positive client experiences. The ability to remain calm under pressure, to resolve conflicts, to learn from mistakes and have thoughtful discussions on tough issues are all pre-requisites for success. EI is so important that many hiring entities find that the EI quotient is more important than the IQ of a potential employee. What is your EI and how can you improve it? Here is a quick quiz to see where you are in your EI journey. You may find that improving your EI will benefit you not just in your professional life but your personal life as well.