Emotional intelligence (EI) is defined by Oxford Dictionaries as “The capacity to be aware of, control, and express one’s emotions, and to handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically.” As such, it is critical to the work of locum tenens who are often in high-stress situations, where emotions run strong and stakes are high.
EI can be broken down into four areas: self awareness, self management, social awareness, and relationship management.
Self awareness is recognizing your own emotional responses to a given situation. You are not in the best position to take action when you are not fully aware of your circumstances and internal state.
Self management is using the knowledge you have to regulate your reaction in a situation. This takes a conscious intent and often requires practice to master. It is often demonstrated as composure and grace in stressful circumstances.
Social awareness is recognizing the emotions, possible motivations, and triggers of others around you. This is usually more difficult then self awareness, since we can often only guess about the state of others, especially when they don’t express their wants and concerns.
Relationship management is using what you know about the situation at hand, the people involved, and your own strengths and weaknesses to forge the best possible lines of communication, useful alliances, and beneficial trade-offs. This is often the most difficult stage, as it requires comparative mastery of the previous areas.
Think of a recent interaction you had with a patient or their family where you had to demonstrate awareness and management. Looking back, was there something you could have done better? Could you have tried to understand the patient or family perspective better? Did you demonstrate empathy in your communications?
Next time you are in a challenging situation, take stock of the emotions, needs, and concerns of the people involved, and try to think of some things you can do from your side to improve the situation.