Emotional intelligence can help healthcare organizations deliver better service while achieving superior outcomes. Leaders and front-liners alike should harness the power of EQ through rigorous training and a patient-centered mindset.
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What is Emotional Intelligence?
Intelligence is not limited to the knowledge of facts and the ability to think with sound logic. It also includes our capacity to recognize our own emotions and those of others. We should be able to differentiate between various feelings and manage our emotions to adapt to our environment. Once we master ourselves, we can get into a better position to achieve our goals. This mastery is referred to as Emotional Intelligence or EI. The measure of it is called Emotional Intelligence Quotient or EQ. These terms are often used interchangeably.
The Five Key Attributes
Individuals who exhibit high emotional intelligence usually exhibit five key attributes. The first is self-awareness. They are keenly aware of how they are feeling at every moment. They are also conscious about the way that they are engaging with the people around them. These observations allow them to make better decisions whatever the situation might be.
The second attribute is self-regulation. They have the ability to handle their emotions and not get carried away. So many people have difficulties controlling their feelings that these inevitably end up controlling them, sometimes with devastating results. By practicing self-regulation, individuals can be more calm and deliberate in their actions.
Another thing that comes with high EQ is motivation. These people are driven to excel in everything that they do and they always find more room to improve. They keep striving to be a better version of themselves.
With emotional intelligence also comes empathy — the ability to understand the plight of others and show compassion in the midst of their difficulties. They do not merely sympathize with these people. They are able to put themselves in the shoes of others and walk around in them, so to speak.
Lastly, you can spot a person with great EQ through demonstrable social skills. They are able to communicate effectively with the people around them. During group tasks, they can collaborate well with their peers. In leadership positions, they have the ability to exert influence on the thoughts and actions of others.
How EQ Manifests in the Healthcare Environment
Emotional intelligence can be seen at work in various situations within health care environments. After all, hospitals can be a place of great stress. Emotions can run high. For instance, you can see it in the interactions between the staff and the patients. It is also apparent when difficult news needs to be delivered to patients and their families. Members of a team often have to control their emotions and work together to achieve their goals. Doctors, nurses, and lab technicians have to handle the stress of their jobs and avoid making serious mistakes. They have to juggle all their responsibilities without burning out.
EQ and Patient Outcomes
According to research, EQ is one of the things that separate the most successful medical organizations from the rest. Good emotional intelligence can have several positive effects on the physician-patient relationship. The two can work together better towards rapid recovery. Doctors look for creative solutions and patients adhere to all the directions given to them.
There is also increased empathy among all parties. Individuals can appreciate the difficulties being faced by those around them so they exercise more patience and understanding. It’s a less stressful environment, as people are nicer towards one another. Even when some aren’t being agreeable, feelings are controlled so it doesn’t affect them.
The value of effective communication is understood as well. With higher EQ comes increased communication, which ensures that all the parties are on the same page throughout the treatment process. Nagging questions are answered right away. They don’t fester or leave any doubts.
Leaders are effective in their roles. They are able to say what their teams need to hear so that everyone can move with purpose. Any hurdles faced are quickly discussed to find solutions. As a result, physicians and nurses are happy with their careers. They like coming to work and it shows in the way that they conduct themselves.
Efforts to Improve EQ Among Healthcare Professionals
Emotional intelligence is not a fixed trait. Even those who have trouble with their emotions can learn to improve control with proper training. It just takes willingness on the part of the individual to get better at it. Organizations should also extend assistance to their staff, nurses and physicians to get improvements across the board. Training sessions can be conducted to enhance patient care.
Most health professionals are too focused on the physical recovery of their patients. They neglect to see that these people have emotional needs that should be met as well. For instance, nurses may observe certain behavioral patterns in their patients. They can adjust their own behaviors to have better interactions with these individuals. Adjustments can also be made for a more harmonious relationship with colleagues.
Steps to Better Patient Care
A 10-step program was written by Fred Lee after imagining how it would be like if Disney ran a hospital. This proved to be an important work that is often cited as a model for the delivery of patient-centered care. This service excellence program starts by refocusing on things that cannot be measured. This, of course, includes the feelings of the patient. It may not be possible to quantify it but it is vital to the outcome. Health workers are also encouraged to place more importance on courtesy rather than efficiency. They are also told that they should measure things to improve and not to impress.
The program calls for decentralization of authority such that approvals can be provided much faster. This creates a more responsive service orientation. There should also be a shift in the mindset from our service to the guest’s own story. Understand where the patients and their families are coming from. Use imagination to motivate people towards the achievement of the goal. However, competitive rewards should not be among the tools used for motivation. Lee espouses a climate of dissatisfaction. The quest for improvement should never cease. The gap between knowing and doing should be closed.