Emotional Intelligence and Nursing Practice

Emotional Intelligence is central to every aspect of nursing practice.

At its heart lies the Nurse-Patient relationship. Not just dialogue, but a dynamic highlighting nurse perception and an empathy with the patient’s feelings. Just two factors in the wider equation. But how does this fit the well-established definition of Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional Intelligence and Nursing Practice - at the heart of the Nurse-Patient relationship, highlighting nurse perception and patient empathy.

The Emotional Intelligence Framework

The widely accepted Emotional Intelligence framework emerged from the work of Daniel Goleman. Salovey and Mayer (1990) later defined Emotional Intelligence as:

“The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.”

Salovey and Meyer

Within this model, Emotional Intelligence has four central elements:

  • The ability to perceive emotions
  • Then to use these perceptions to complete identified tasks or activities
  • To understand and interpret others’ emotions
  • Enabling you to manage both your own and others’ emotions to achieve goals

So now, let’s look more closely at facets of emotional intelligence needed by nurses for the delivery of effective care.

Emotional Intelligence – Core Skills for Effective Nursing Practice

As a nurse, you probably take two intrinsic, yet highly complex skills for granted: that of being able to form a wide range of effective relationships – both with patients and colleagues – and the way in which you respond or react to a situation.

The degree of Emotional Intelligence is embedded in what becomes your conscious choices in how you relate and act. You might think that how you see and act on a scenario emerges from logical thought alone. But every thought is rooted in an emotion – a feeling – not just one, but a constantly changing mix of feelings that come to drive your actions and create an unexpected or undesired outcome.

So a vital part of developing Emotional Intelligence is being able to consciously change the emotion that a conversation or situation might initially trigger in you. If you:

  • Consciously change the Feeling
  • You can consciously change the thought
  • And therefore, consciously change the action

A More Objective Perspective..

This is all part of creating a more objective perspective on your feelings in relation to your actions. It’s as if they were part of a scene in a play or film of which you are the Director. You run it one way – perhaps how it’s written – and then you might well feel and think “What if..?” So then you run it again – Take Two – only this time, differently. Maybe a character feels differently – that changes their motivation – that in turn, changes another character’s response – creates an alternative outcome…

As the French composer, Erik Satie, said:

“When I compose, I walk first around the piece three times, accompanied by myself.”

Erik Satie (1866 – 1925)

A Practical Example

Here’s a good example of practical Emotional Intelligence in everyday nursing practice:

“The emotionally intelligent nurse can listen to a patient’s explosive angry outburst, assess the patient’s emotional state, and keep his or her reactions in check. The nurse can then respond in a calm and rational manner that demonstrates understanding of, and empathy for, the feelings of the patient, without any reactivity on the part of the nurse.”

Keith Carlson – Ausmed – December 12th, 2018

Keith Carlson also points out that this nurse with a high EQ (Emotional Quotient) can also work with her colleagues in a similar way: as a strong, but calmly assertive team member, a good friend and as a reliable team member.

This illustrates a number of interpersonal EI skills – for example:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-regulation
  • Adaptability

And a number of intrapersonal EI skills ie: those of personal insight and judgement – for example:

  • Empathy
  • Leadership
  • Ability to Influence Others
  • Conflict Management
  • Teamwork and Collaboration

Daniel Goleman (2001) laid the foundations for a wider recognition that emotional competencies can be a set of learned capabilities and can be developed to not only achieve outstanding performance, but also support the emotional, mental and physical health of the nursing practitioner.

Compassionise - a holistic approach to compassionate care and personal wellbeing for all NHS staff

A Holistic Approach to Compassionate Care & Personal Wellbeing – for all medical staff in the NHS & other organisations

Compassionise is a new approach in transforming how you:

  • Feel
  • Think
  • Act

Learning a recognised set of Emotional Intelligence skills certainly marks a significant breakthrough for yourself, your patients and your colleagues. But being able to consistently apply them in your everyday nursing practice and interaction at all levels can represent a new challenge.

Rather than simply assessing a situation then applying a learned principle or behaviour, true Emotional Intelligence emerges from within. This means how you are feeling and your own state of health and how these aspects can influence and drive your resultant actions.

Compassionise – Making the Difference

By contrast, Compassionise is an innovative approach that centres on you.

The flexible workshops empower staff at all levels to create a sustainable, everyday state of Energised Calm. This will give you the renewed energy, motivation and resilience to deliver effective, compassionate healthcare through a focus on your personal development.

Compassionise combines a range of established therapeutic techniques. This approach enables you to directly experience a mix of easy-to-learn exercises and routines that will not only transform the energy and compassionate care you are able to give, but also have a positive impact on your everyday mental health and wellbeing.

Compassionise will provide a long-term, sustainable approach through:

  • Consciously working with the everyday biochemistry created by your Mind, Body and Feelings
  • Removing emotional, mental and physical blocs
  • Developing more objective perspectives
  • Becoming less reactive to situations and others’ actions
  • Making calm, conscious choices
  • – and much more

Enabling you to:

  • Provide consistent, compassionate care – to your patients, colleagues and family
  • Develop and maintain your own emotional, mental and physical health
  • Greatly reduce everyday stress, tension and anxiety
  • Develop and everyday state of Energised Calm
  • Improve or eliminate many common conditions – for example: insomnia; migraines; back and neck pain; Irritable Bowel Syndrome – and more

All Compassionise participants can continue to draw on the comprehensive Compassionise Resource Pack and active support by Skype, email or phone.

For further details on Compassionise – visit:


or contact Dave Read direct:


07804 785305

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