Blowing Your Lid? Check Your Emotional Intelligence

Leanna M.W. Lui, HBSc


January 20, 2022

The new year is often accompanied with an ambitious list of resolutions and goals.

I've seen many fitness resolutions floating around my social media feed, as well as plenty of career goals. Promotions. Raises. Even pivots to completely different fields. However, a term that's been lacking in my social networks — as it relates to new year's resolutions — is "emotional intelligence." 

With everything that has happened over the past couple of years, I'm quite surprised that we aren't having more conversations about emotional intelligence. There have been numerous forums dedicated to mental health and well-being, but it's also about time we start talking about the giant elephant in the room. 

Several models have been proffered to characterize emotional intelligence. At its core, emotional intelligence is composed of: (1) emotional awareness; (2) the ability to analyze and interpret this information for various purposes. For example, emotional intelligence may capture the form of self-awareness, reading others' emotions, analyzing the emotional environment of the room, and utilizing this information to create high-quality interactions with others to solve problems. The conscious awareness of one's emotional intelligence requires mental stamina as well as experience. 

Emotional intelligence is important for producing positive personal and social interactions, as well as outcomes. Although emotional intelligence may not be the most accurate predictor of social and workplace success, it is purported that high emotional intelligence is important for success beyond the benefits of general intelligence (eg, mental health, relationship quality, workplace performance). 

I've had the privilege of being surrounded by several brilliant minds. However, while they flourish with general intelligence, they may not always be the first ones that I choose to work with, simply because someone else has higher emotional intelligence. Being able to communicate well and effectively with others, as well as fostering creativity and productivity rather than conflict, are some key characteristics for a thriving workplace environment. 

Emotional intelligence also plays a key role in our interactions with stakeholders. The patient-provider dynamic is an excellent example of where emotional intelligence is an important component to a successful interaction. Having a strong sense of emotional awareness, in addition to demonstrating exemplary clinical competence, is important to effectively treat patients. In other words, emotional intelligence and bedside manners go hand in hand. Being able to recognize and assess a patient's emotional state, mentally shift gears, and simply stopping and thinking before acting may have a tremendous impact on the relationship that is built, the trust that is established, and ultimately, the care that is provided. 

With the new year, perhaps we should embrace honesty with ourselves. Is emotional intelligence an asset of yours or is it a component that needs improvement? For myself, I think it is an ever-evolving process that requires a conscious and continuous effort. It's a process that will require time, mentorship, and experience and it is by no means an easy feat to accomplish. However, learning to identify these weaknesses and converting them into strengths may create incredibly rewarding impacts on your personal, social, and workplace matters.

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About Leanna Lui
Leanna M.W. Lui, HBSc, completed an HBSc global health specialist degree at the University of Toronto, where she is now an MSc candidate. Her interests include mood disorders, health economics, public health, and applications of artificial intelligence. In her spare time, she is a fencer with the University of Toronto Varsity Fencing team and the Canadian Fencing Federation.


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