Emotional Intelligence or EQ
Emotional Intelligence (EQ or EI) is a term created by two researchers - Peter Salavoy and John Mayer - and popularized by Dan Goleman in his 1996 book of the same name.
In the recent past it was always considered that IQ was what got you employed in most jobs especially healthcare.
Today Emotional Intelligence or otherwise known as EQ is considered far more important than your IQ. Years ago IQ was the focus and tended to be what employees looked for when employing a RN, when interviewed a lot of questions revolved round responses which may have required you to be an expert on the subject matter and your ability to perform the job.
Today it is believed whilst IQ is important it really only counts for 25% with the other 75% being your emotional intelligence. Interview questions will ask you how you respond in certain situations, they can include question about relations with co-workers and previous managers. Interviewers want to know how do you work under pressure, with emphasis on conflict management.
EQ is not measurable in the same way that IQ can be measured because EQ is subjective, it is emotions and emotions can depend on the moment, the situation, your stability in life, to name a few.
EQ is your ability to handle stressful situations, your emotions, and your responses to a trigger in your everyday life.
So what it a trigger? A trigger maybe somebody who you do not have a great working relationship with, suddenly pushing your button and you respond in an emotional way. They may be late on a report, they may be late or don't complete a certain task. Triggers could cause you to be very negative towards a certain situation or a certain person.
An example of a trigger in my life-My boss questions me on every single cent on my expense report, every month without exception. Every month I wait for her to question and I am fired up, angry, indignant, upset and ready for a disagreement with her. I am immediately on the defensive, even if there is nothing to defend. This leaves me feeling stressed, upset, negative and feeling of inadequacy. It has an impact on physical health and well-being. I have included co-workers in my rants, which has caused them to feel miserable.
A better way to handle this situation would be to just answer her questions and move on. Not telling myself a story about how she is out to get me, or how she only picks on me.
The higher your EQ the better you are able to put things into perspective and manage your emotions. Disagreements with co-workers, patients, and family members can always be handled in a different way.
The big question is how do you plan to change your behavior and your response in situations.
The most important step you can make in your journey is to identify your triggers, this could be something that always makes you angry, it could be something out of the blue and you respond immediately.
For example you are in a line and somebody pushes in front of you or you may be cut off in your car-your immediate response is anger and indignation. You may or may not respond verbally, body language and facial expressions will be evident. Your BP may rise, your fight or flight responses will be initiated you whole body will respond in a negative way.
Do you always make the right decision when 'confronting' this sort of situation?
At work a patient is rude to you and you respond inappropriately then this situation doesn't rest easy with you for the rest of the day, so you seek affirmation from your co-workers, which then has the ongoing effect of dragging down the mood of the team.
You may have conflict with Doctor, I am sure most of you can identify with this situation-This can quickly affect your mood, your indignation and affect the mood of the floor and day. EQ is learning how to manage that situation so there is a positive outcome, managing your own responses to the situation, managing the outcome and managing the Dr.
You have to review how you behave when you are triggered; you need to evaluate how you are making other people around you feel when you are triggered. Could you have handled the situation differently?
Then you make an action plan of how to respond better to triggers, do you have any indication that you are triggered?
Role-play conversations with somebody who you consider 'safe' a mentor or a life coach. Mentors do not cost anything apart from time and investment from both of you. There is a commitment that you talk weekly; it can be formal or informal, in person or via the phone. You have to trust this person, make ground rules especially the 'Vegas" rule!
Life coaches can be expensive but a great alternative if you want somebody outside work who is not tied to your company. There are literally 1000's out there you will need to do research as with everything there are good and bad life coaches.
Do reflection, start noticing your responses to certain people in your life, this doesn't just apply to work, it could be in your family or any outside activity.
Start a journal initially twice a week, or when you have identified that you have been in a situation you could have handled differently.
Reflect on what you could have done differently, thinking about how the situation made you feel, the person who you were dealing with felt and also the people around you.
Once you start evaluating your behaviors, triggers, your responses to situations and start changing. You will start to recognize when you acted or spoke appropriately and can alter how you manage certain situations. On occasions you even recognize that the way you behaved which you thought was positive could be improved.
EQ is going to be life long learning, are you going to always handle situations appropriately-No of course not life is unpredictable and can change in an instant. You cannot predict how somebody else is going to behave; you can only change how you respond and how you manage others especially when under pressure.
You can however learn to manage your EQ so unlike IQ, which is, pretty fixed-EQ can be modified.
Further study is recommended-there are literally 1000's books out there devoted to EQ. Live courses, WebEx's, journaling and life coaches are the way forward.
'Emotional Intelligence 2.0' by Travis Bradbury and Jean Greaves-includes a EQ test to give you a base line to start from.