The Definition of Emotional Intelligence

Posted on January 15, 2017 by VITAL WorkLife

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligenceEmotional intelligence, as defined by Peter Mayer and John Salovey in 1997, is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.

“People with well-developed emotional skills are ... more likely to be content and effective in their lives, mastering the habits of the mind that foster their own productivity; people who cannot marshal some control over their emotional life fight battles that sabotage their ability for focused work and clear thought.”— Daniel Goleman, "Emotional Intelligence" 2

Daniel Goleman went on to identify the following five components of emotional intelligence at work. 1
  • Self-awareness: The ability to recognize and understand personal moods and emotions, as well as their effect on others
  • Self-regulation: The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting
  • Internal Motivation: A passion to work for internal reasons that go beyond money and status. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence
  • Empathy: The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. A skill in treating and relating to others according to their emotional reactions.
  • Social Skills: Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport

Physicians and Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence can be especially difficult for physicians. In general, physicians have personality traits which in part, make them great at the skills and abilities required by their profession but which can be counter productive to a high degree of emotional intelligence.

  • Obsessive-compulsive behavior patterns often leading to feelings of perfectionism, doubt, guilt and self criticism
  •  Introversion  more reserved and solitary behavior
  •  Social isolation  is a state of complete or near-complete lack of contact between an individual and society. It differs from loneliness, which reflects a temporary lack of contact with other humans.
  •  Competitive – a strong desire to succeed
  •  Preoccupation with order and control
  •  Exaggerated sense of responsibility

All of us are born with the ability to think and feel. Our rational minds work methodically, taking in information and data, running through various scenarios and then helping us make decisions. For quick response situations, it is often our logical/rational minds which take over and in some cases, ensure our own survival or in the physician and provider world, the survival of our patients. What must be learned is to identify and manage our emotions as to avoid making poor choices or bad decisions. 2

James Salwitz, MD, authored an article in late 2015 titled “For doctors to survive today, they need emotional intelligence.” 3 Physicians and providers are highly trained scientists whose expertise in the field of medicine is significant. On the flip side, their understanding of the emotional side of caring for patients can be difficult to achieve. Stories of abrupt, disinterested and unfeeling physicians are easy to find. Physicians with emotional intelligence are able to connect with each patient’s specific emotional needs, their family dynamics creating a more positive patient experience. Physicians applying their emotional intelligence to their colleagues and care teams are also better at handling stress and building resiliency in the sometimes overwhelming culture of healthcare.

Emotional Intelligence and Professional Success

Emotional intelligence plays a significant part in a person’s professional success. A recent article, “Why Emotional Intelligence (EQ) Is More Important Than IQ” 2, discusses the current accepted practice of our education system which measures students likelihood of success based on their GPA, standardized test scores and college entrance exams. All of which are contrary to multiple studies pointing to a 20% likelihood of success when based on IQ by itself.

Per the article mentioned above, here are 5 reasons Emotional Intelligence helps determine success.

  1. Your IQ can help get you a job, but a lack of Emotional Intelligence could get you fired.
  2. Delayed gratification is a top indicator of future success. The ability to focus on self-development rather than receiving instant rewards is a sign of a high Emotional Intelligence.
  3. Relationship skills like conflict resolution, respectful communications, collaboration and building trust are important at work and at home. Maintaining healthy relationships can only be done if we can understand and can manage our emotions, have the ability to conduct important and sometimes difficult conversations and can take into account the emotions of our co-workers, friends and family.
  4. The connection between physical health and emotional health is strong. Approximately 80% of physical issues such as heart disease obesity and diabetes can be linked to a physical response to stress. Stress is experienced when we are not emotional comfortable and when not managed can create burnout.
  5. Low Emotional Intelligence can be linked to unethical and even illegal behaviors. Successful leaders demonstrate high levels of integrity and ethical decision making requiring a high Emotional Intelligence.

We Can Help

As part of your VITAL WorkLife Well Being Resources, you have access to unlimited telephone consultations with consultants who can give you advice on developing emotional intelligence. If you would like more focused work in this area, Peer Coaching is great way to address it. To speak with a consultant or a Peer Coach give us a call at 877.731.3949

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