Implementing Emotional Intelligence in Nursing

  • Have you ever heard of emotional intelligence? Have you thought about how emotional intelligence affects nursing? 
  • Emotional intelligence is a combination of self-awareness, self-regulation, empathy, social skills, and motivation. In nursing these skills are used as an advantage as one helps patients navigate what can often be a scary, uncomfortable time while receiving care. 
  • Emotional intelligence in nursing allows one to be a better leader, a collaborative coworker, and compassionate nurse. 

Katy Luggar-Schmit


August 12, 2022
Simmons University

Have you ever heard of the term emotional intelligence?

My first introduction to the concept of Emotional Intelligence was in nursing school. As part of our curriculum, we had to read a book called Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Dr. Travis Bradberry and Dr. Jean Greaves.  

The book explains why possessing skills in managing your emotions is important and how it affects all areas of your life including your professional life. Having a good grasp on who you are as a person and being mindful of your strengths and weaknesses can help you when developing healthy patterns in managing your emotions.  

Regardless of what field you are in, having strong emotional intelligence will be an advantage for you; but I want to discuss why emotional intelligence is important for nurses and can help you better succeed as a nurse. I hope you will find useful information you can utilize in your current nursing position.

emotional intelligence of a nurse

What Is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence is the ability to perceive, regulate, and manage emotions.  

In nursing, it is the ability of the nurse to understand, use, and manage their emotions in ways that promote effective communication, empathy, conflict resolution, and stress reduction. 

Why Is Emotional Intelligence Important in Nursing?

Emotional intelligence has a lot of benefits when applied in a nursing position such as:

  • Easier to manage and resolve workplace conflicts 
  • Leadership is more effective 
  • Supports positive nurse: patient relationships 
  • Understand own emotions and recognize when burned out or overwhelmed 
  • Promotes collaboration with other professionals 
  • Creates trusting environment within the healthcare team

What Are the Key Factors of Emotional Intelligence in Nursing?

  1. Self-awareness- how you feel and how your actions affect others. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. 
  2. Self-Regulation- ability to express emotions appropriately, adapt to change and remain flexible. Able to diffuse tense situations calmly. 
  3. Motivation- work hard to achieve goals and have high standards for quality of work. 
  4. Empathy- ability to put yourself in someone else’s situation, consider their feelings and thought before acting.  
  5. Social Skills- strong social skills helps to manage other employees well and communicate to team members more effectively.

emotional intelligence as a nurse

How Can Emotional Intelligence in Nursing Be Improved?

  • Maintain a positive outlook- regardless of the circumstances it is important to maintain a cheerful outlook and be approachable. 
  • Active listening skills- remember to listen to understand and not just to respond. This will help you have a greater understanding of someone else’s viewpoint and feelings before replying. 
  • Make emotional skills a priority- How you relate to co-workers and patients is important. Co-workers and patients are more likely to feel comfortable and have a healthy relationship with someone who is relatable to them and takes time for them.  
  • Assertive communication- Be direct while still maintaining respect for the other person. Maintain your personal boundaries. 
  • Remember why you became a nurse– Being a nurse can be overwhelming and stressful at times and it can be easy to lose your focus and sense of purpose during those times. It is important to remember why you became a nurse and what motivates you to keep going. This will enable you to push through challenges as they arise.  

emotional intelligence in healthcare

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, development of emotional intelligence will have a long-lasting effect on your nursing career and enhance your life in all areas. Developing emotional intelligence requires a great deal of self-reflection and honesty with yourself. Having a greater understanding of your feelings and emotions will help you focus on the areas you need to improve on and as a result, this will make it easier to enhance emotional intelligence. Patient satisfaction and positive patient outcomes will also be easier to achieve.

For nurses who struggle with setting boundaries and being assertive, they may find themselves struggling to enjoy their job and this can make staying difficult for them. This is another reason improving emotional intelligence is important in achieving overall job satisfaction. In a time of substantial nurse demand, developing and maintaining emotional intelligence as a nurse has never been so important.  

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