Need of Emotional Intelligence for healthcare workers


Mrs Sreedevi Menon
CNK Reddy College of Business Management
#193, Indiranagar 2nd stage, Double Road, Bangalore-560038


The rules for work are changing. We are being judged by not just how smart we are but also by how well we handle each other and ourselves. Our each and every action is systematically controlled by emotions; this is the essential premise of EQ. To be successful requires effective awareness, control and management of one's own emotions and those of other people. This is having very much relevance in service industry, especially in health care sector. This article discuss about the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) and how can it be successfully applied to healthcare workers to improve their service quality.

Key Words: Emotional Intelligence, soft skills and self- awareness


Emotional Intelligence is increasingly relevant to organizational development and developing people, because the EQ principles provide a new way to understand and assess people's behaviors, management styles, attitudes, interpersonal skills, and potential. Emotional Intelligence is an important consideration in human resources planning, job profiling, recruitment, interviewing, selection, management development, customer relations, customer service and more.

The current system of healthcare, in which patients typically pay more of their healthcare expenses than they had previously, has resulted in patients who are more discerning consumers. In addition, the Internet provides patients with abundant, readily available healthcare information, creating patients who are also better educated about their health concerns. Patients today often expect that not only will their diagnosis and treatment be efficient and effective, but their care will be delivered in a personalized and compassionate manner.

Staffing to manage patient needs

Healthcare providers who seek to remain competitive may wish to consider examining the quality of their patient care from both a medical and an emotional perspective. Thus, although a staff member's intellect, clinical experience, and education are valuable attributes, it is often the so-called soft skills, such as emotional intelligence (EI) that a provider may call upon to manage common challenges, such as expressions of emotional strain by patients undergoing, for example, fertility treatment. Poorly managed, these expressions may lead to provider-patient conflict, poor team interaction, staff burnout, and other issues that can influence staff performance.

In recent years, non–healthcare businesses and healthcare organizations alike have engaged in EI training for staff members. Those organizations that focus on improving both supervisor and employee EI report increased productivity, an improved bottom line, and reduced employee turnover.

What is EI?

An analysis of predictors of advancement and success among employees commencing work in the same environment at the same time found that traditional measures of success, such as IQ and vocational training, failed to predict success. Further research and investigation led to the awareness that a key differentiator appears to be a person's ability to navigate not only the technical aspects of the workplace, but also the emotional aspectsEI (also known as EQ), is described by Goleman as "the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well in ourselves and in our relationships.

Emotional intelligence - the five domains

Goleman identified the five 'domains' of EQ as:

    1. Knowing your emotions.

    2. Managing your own emotions.

    3. Motivating yourself.

    4. Recognizing and understanding other people's emotions.

    5. Managing relationships, i.e., managing the emotions of others.

Framework for emotional competence

* Personal competence

Self-awareness – ability to recognize one's own emotions and abilities. Competencies that are required for self- awareness are accurate self-assessment, emotional awareness and self-confidence

Self-regulation – ability to control impulses and emotions. Competencies that are required for self-regulation are adaptability, conscientiousness, innovation, self-control, and trustworthiness

Motivation – ability to manage emotions to attain goals. Competencies that are required for this are achievement drive, commitment, initiative and optimism

* Social competence

Empathy – awareness of feelings and needs of others. Competencies required for empathy are leveraging diversity, political awareness, service orientation and understanding others

Social skills – interpersonal communication, teamwork, conflict management. Competencies required are building bonds, change catalyst, collaboration and cooperation, communication, influence, leadership and team capabilities

EI in healthcare sector

EI in the workplace is defined as the ability to understand and manage one's emotions and to express them appropriately and in a manner that facilitates people successfully working together toward common goals. An organization with conflicting employees cannot be productive. So, it is very important for an organization to give stress on emotional quotient when they are hiring employees, especially in case of healthcare workers. Hiring and training a staff with high EI is, therefore conducive to optimizing productivity, teamwork, and overall employee satisfaction. Although personality conflicts are likely to occur in a stressful work environment, self-regulated employees have the ability to act appropriately and remain composed under trying circumstances. The typical healthcare environment is dynamic and fluid, and requires that employees adapt easily to change. Indeed, adaptability and innovativeness are two core competencies of EI. By learning self-awareness skills, workers can become more cognizant of emotional response to change, and thus, may be less resistant to it. Ideally, a flexible team can be trained to react positively to changes in personnel, management, and even physical office space. Additionally, the healthcare setting can be emotionally charged and stressful for both patients and providers. Patient anxiety may arise from physical, emotional, and, perhaps, financial challenges, while staff members may feel overworked, under-supported, or insufficiently equipped to handle daily challenges. Basic EI training may allow staff members to more easily and effectively adapt to change and also to meet patient needs.

How to achieve a high EI team?

First and foremost thing that the organization should do is to create an excitement and interest in minds of employees by explaining the importance and benefits of emotional intelligence and its necessity in a sector like healthcare. Once received the acceptance from employee's side, we can go ahead with the EI assessment. Two commonly used assessment tools are the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (Bar-On EQ-I) and the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). Through these tests, strengths and weaknesses of the employees will be assessed. Depending on the size of the organization, training may involve a series of one-on-one coaching sessions or a series of half- or full-day training programs with 10 to 12 participants at a time.

Effective EI training involves skill development that includes tools and techniques to assist employees' understanding of their own emotional landscape as well as methods for identifying and managing the emotions of others. Identified weaknesses can yield longer-term goals for improvement, which may be incorporated into the employee performance review process.

In case of healthcare workers, training should focus on dealing with their own emotions and emotions of the patients. Once management and staff receive and integrate training and establish a healthcare environment with high EI, an important step in maintaining that high EI is to integrate behavioral interviewing techniques in the hiring process. An employer hiring healthcare personnel typically focuses on a candidate's technical training and clinical experience, and the introduction of effective interviewing techniques can expand the assessment to include an analysis of a candidate's communication skills, flexibility, adaptability, stress management, and potential for teamwork. Many employers have added a formal EI assessment to the interview process, possibly using one of tools mentioned above. Although the competencies involved in EI can be improved through structured training, a baseline measurement of the candidate's EI can provide helpful data in the hiring decision.


EI assessment and training can directly affect patient care. Practices that train staff in EI may experience an improved workplace environment, better patient retention, and better outcomes. Understanding one's emotions will allow healthcare workers to better self-assess and self-regulate, and thus better work together in a medical setting.


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3. Goleman Daniel, 'Emotional Intelligence', new edn, Bloomsbury publishers, 1996, Newyork

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Mrs Sreedevi Menon
CNK Reddy College of Business Management
#193, Indiranagar 2nd stage, Double Road, Bangalore-560038

Source: E-mail September 13, 2010


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