Career Development

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Nursing

The Importance of Emotional Intelligence in Nursing

By: Kathy Marshall, Contributor

What is emotional intelligence? You may be hearing this question more frequently. 

With the development of non-traditional career paths, understanding emotional intelligence is a necessity for progressing through the changing landscape of nursing.

Emotional intelligence encompasses all the skills that are in the non-technical realm.

Emotional intelligence in the workplace is a vital key to providing a stable, efficient, and progressive environment. 

So what exactly is included in the category of emotional intelligence?

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-motivation
  • Social awareness
  • Social skills

Why Emotional Intelligence Matters

Think of the most respected leader you have ever worked under. Chances are they not only were extremely skilled and knowledgeable, but also were gifted at communication and effective at coordinating others to work together. 

This is why emotional intelligence in the workplace is so important. Being a good leader requires much more than technical skill to create a positive and effective workforce.

5 Ways to Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

1. Assess Your Emotional Intelligence

Look up a list of exactly what falls under the umbrella of emotional intelligence. Go through and honestly assess where you stand. 

Are you easily led by your emotions? Do you feel people should accept your way as the only logical course of action? Ask yourself questions about past events. Think about your reactions and responses.

2. Change Your Thought Process

Drop the “this is just the way I am” mentality. If you fall into that category, chances are you have a work history filled with multiple contentious work relationships, patient complaints, and clashes with supervisors. 

A core pillar of emotional intelligence is the ability to empathize and to control your actions.

3. Change Your Perspective

In order to improve your emotional intelligence in the workplace, you have to start looking at situations from other peoples’ perspectives. Part of a high emotional intelligence is the ability to see things from all sides, not just your own.

While difficult, this practice can be exceptionally useful if you find yourself in a stressful nurse work environment.

4. Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you are only surrounded by people who share your belief systems, opinions, and struggles, you will be at a disadvantage in treating others who hold much different beliefs. Look for opportunities to broaden your social circles and try out new work environments.

Often by volunteering, you gain insight into situations you hold firm opinions on but only before experienced through your morning newspaper.

5. Address Your Emotions

Until you look at why you react the way you do and resolve that, all the practice on improving your emotional intelligence will be met with frustration. 

Whether it be a childhood hurt, adopted ideals, or the “that’s just the way I am” mentality, try to resolve it to the best of your ability.

This is not a mind over matter situation. You have to make the conscious decision to not be controlled by your emotions and continue to make that choice every day. 

As time passes, it will become easier to assess all sides of a situation before reacting.

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