I’m a huge advocate for teaching emotional intelligence (aka EQ or EI) to nurses and some of the rationale might surprise you. Yes, it can be a wonderful skill to demonstrate empathy for your patients, but did you also know that it can help you and us develop a stronger collective voice around safe staffing? (If you like this article, please consider contributing one dollar to the Improvoscopy: Serious Play for Safe Care campaign that will help bring EQ & interpersonal skills to the healthcare workforce and thank you VERY much!)
What does EQ have to do with staffing?
First, self awareness is a key skill that you will develop. This will help you to know what your limits are, respect, and manage them. This will help you to ask for help, refuse a work assignment that will put you in overwhelm, and maybe even prevent an unsafe act.
Second, EQ is also about developing empathy and that includes respecting others, reading their emotional cues and honoring them. We often see this as a benefit to patients yet there is much much more to gain. When your colleague is asking for help, you will automatically respect their needs w/o judgement or comparison to your own. This will help you to offer help (if you can) or at least validate their request. This is how we can build a collective voice (in addition to staffing ratios) to ensure we have enough staff to provide safe care and go home feeling good about our work!
EQ Builds RESPECT
What I can do Monday morning might be very different from what I can do Thursday afternoon and what I can do Monday morning might be very different from what you can do any morning. Rather than judge myself for being inadequate or others for being lazy or some other derogatory term, we can learn and practice respect for our selves, each other, the practice of nursing. When nurses en masse develop EQ we will make a serious dent in staffing!
If this makes sense to you and you want to help me build the Improvoscopy: Serious Play for Safe Care educational website that will promote these skills, please contribute! Even a few dollars will show backing for the idea and there are some great perks to consider! Thank you!