Using Emotional Intelligence to Communicate in a Health Care Setting

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Before discussing how a healthcare worker uses emotional intelligence when establishing communication with a client in a health care environment, it is imperative to first have a clear understanding of what emotional intelligence is. Only then can we assess how it is used by a healthcare worker when communicating with client and its relevance in such a setting.

Defining what communication means in this context is also important to understanding how a healthcare worker uses emotional intelligence to establish effective discourse with a client. Communication is much more than just words and encompasses intrapersonal, interpersonal and observational skills which are critical when communicating with a client. With this in mind, it could be said effective communication and emotional intelligence are intrinsically linked and dependent on each other.

According to Akerjordet and Severinsson (2007, p. 1406), emotional intelligence was first defined by Mayer (1990) as the ability of a person to regulate their emotional state and understand what impact emotions have on an individual’s actions and thought processes. Expanding on this broad definition, Ioannidou and Konstantikaki (2008, p. 121) lists five key elements of emotional intelligence.

Firstly one must understand their emotions, then exercise control over their emotions, have clear emotional incentives, acknowledge other’s emotions, and finally, manage their relationships with others. Using these fundamental elements of emotional intelligence, it becomes possible to explore how a healthcare worker might employ these skills when communicating with a patient.

Defining what is meant by communication in this context needs to be briefly explored. When evaluating communication from within the Roper, Logan and Tierney model, it’s clear that communication is a key component of the relationship between healthcare worker and patient. Assessing a patient’s ability to hear, their cognitive and emotional...
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