Emotional intelligence, or as some like to refer to it, “EQ,” has become an extremely important topic in today’s society. The concept that our emotional capabilities are just as valuable, if not more so, as our intellectual capabilities is now largely mainstream, and companies are focusing their attention on training their employees on how to increase their emotional intelligence as well as making their hiring decisions based on those who are high in emotional intelligence.
It is highly relevant for those of us who are working in healthcare marketing. In our jobs, we are constantly working with others and engaging our emotions. Whether it be working alongside a large group of co-workers to develop a creative campaign or presenting ideas to stakeholders, our emotions play a huge role in how we interact with one another. Knowing how to manage our emotions and behaviors appropriately will help us foster stronger relationships and become more successful.
Understanding what provokes a desired emotional response in people, and how it affects their behavior, is key to creating advertising and marketing that engages our target audience of potential patients. It should be worked into every strategy we write and piece of content we create.
Emotional intelligence is also important for physicians and associates to manage when dealing with patients. Now that a methodology has been developed to measure and teach emotional intelligence, promoting compassionate, patient-centered care should be much easier.
Emotional intelligence in the workplace
A person’s emotional intelligence level is said to be positively correlated with success.
For example, a study done by TalentSmart® tested emotional intelligence alongside 33 other important workplace skills, and found that emotional intelligence is the strongest predictor of performance, explaining a full 58% of success in all types of jobs.
According to a study done by the Yale University Center for Emotional Intelligence, managers and leaders with higher emotional intelligence exhibit the following attributes:
- Have greater sensitivity and empathy and are more expressive
- Are rated as more effective leaders by direct reports and managers
- Receive greater merit increases
- Receive higher performance ratings
The study also showed that teams with higher emotional intelligence experience the following behaviors:
- Have faster cohesion
- Perform more effectively in shorter time
- Are more satisfied with team communication
- Receive more support from team members
It’s simple; people want to work with people who have positive energy, whom they can feel comfortable with, and people also tend to perform better when they work with likable people.
So, what actually is emotional intelligence?
Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions -- in oneself and others -- and to use that information appropriately.
Emotional intelligence influences your decisions every day. Being able to recognize your own emotional intelligence will help you regulate and manage your emotions, while being able to recognize emotions in others will lead to empathy, allowing you to build stronger relationships, both personal and professional.
According to multiple sources such as Healthguide.org, emotional Intelligence is primarily centered in the emotional component of the brain rather than the rational and is made up of four core skills:
- Self-awareness – You recognize your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior, know your strengths and weaknesses, and have self-confidence.
- Self-management – You’re able to control impulsive feelings and behaviors, manage your emotions in healthy ways, take initiative, follow through on commitments, and adapt to changing circumstances.
- Social awareness – You can understand the emotions, needs, and concerns of other people, pick up on emotional cues, feel comfortable socially, and recognize the power dynamics in a group or organization.
- Relationship management – You know how to develop and maintain good relationships, communicate clearly, inspire and influence others, work well in a team, and manage conflict.
What’s my EQ?
Now you are probably wondering how to figure out how emotionally intelligent you are. In doing my research, I found there is no one single test or method that is endorsed, as many debate on the best way to actually determine one’s emotional intelligence. You can Google “emotional intelligence tests” and find a lot of different quick tests you can take. However, I personally found these tests to be very basic.
Through my findings, I discovered the most recommended way to get a feeling on how emotionally intelligent you are is to ask. Ask your friends. Ask your colleagues. As uncomfortable or embarrassing as it may seem, you would be surprised on what you will learn. And what better way to get feedback than by asking those whom you interact with the most?
The good news is…emotional intelligence can be developed.
According to the book Emotional Intelligence by Tatyana Williams, emotional intelligence, just like the I.Q., is a measure of capability. However, unlike the I.Q., which tends to stay stable from the late teenage years onward, your emotional intelligence can be improved. This improvement can begin with consciously improving your self-awareness as mentioned above and becoming more mindful of your emotions and thinking. But, it takes effort and constant practice.
In doing my own research on emotional intelligence for a training initiative at BPD, I, for one, found these strategies and findings very helpful. I have to admit I was skeptical at first. When I first began reading about emotional intelligence, I found the concept almost elementary and commonsensical. I automatically just assumed, “of course, I have high emotional intelligence. I totally recognize my emotions and how they trigger my behavior. I do all these things. This is so silly.” But, the more I researched, the more I became fascinated with the concept. I found myself becoming more aware of how I react in certain situations and how I can improve my interactions for the future.
Let’s face it. No matter how much we may try, we cannot always control the actual circumstances of our lives. Life is going to throw us curve balls and learning to regulate your emotions will help you keep a positive outlook on different situations you may face, rather than blowing up and reacting in a way you will later regret.
Below are a few key skills to learn that will help you build emotional intelligence that I found very helpful from Helpguide.org as well as Williams’s book. The first two skills are essential for controlling and managing overwhelming stress and the last three skills greatly improve communication.
The ability to quickly reduce stress in the moment in a variety of settings.
- Find out what your triggers are and how you can better react to them.
- Think about past situations and how you dealt with them. What could you have done better or differently?
The ability to recognize your emotions and keep them from overwhelming you.
- Are you aware of your emotions and how you are feeling?
- Are you honest with yourself?
- Do you pretend you have no weakness?
- Avoid judging your emotions and be open to how you are feeling. The more you can understand how you are feeling, the better you will be at managing your emotions in difficult situations.
The ability to connect emotionally with others by using nonverbal communication.
- Often, what you say is less important than how you say it.
- Note your emotional reactions to others throughout the day.
- Strive to be more confident with your accomplishments and recognize those of others.
- Focus on the other person; make eye contact and pay attention to nonverbal cues.
The ability to use humor and play to stay connected in challenging situations.
- Humor and laughter can lighten your burdens and keep things in perspective.
- Take hardships in stride.
- Use gentle humor to smooth over differences.
- Playful humor can also help you relax and be more creative to see things in a different light.
The ability to resolve conflicts positively and with confidence.
- Stay focused in the present and don’t dwell on past situations.
- Choose your arguments.
- Put yourself in the other person’s shoes.
- End conflict that can’t be resolved.
- Take responsibility for your own actions.
These are just a few skills that will help you improve your emotional intelligence. There are tons of books and websites out there that really go into depth about this topic, and I strongly recommend you do some research and find out what you can learn. As you can see, improving your emotional intelligence takes a lot of reflection and self-monitoring. But if you put in the work, the outcome will be worthwhile, both professionally and personally. It sure has for me.