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Emotional Intelligence: The Key To A Smooth Comeback

Posted April 27, 2020

Tonya Lanthier, RDH

As dental professionals, our education prepares and trains us for all sorts of situations and potential disruptions in our practices. We know how to adjust the schedule and skip lunch because one of our patients just broke a tooth or walked in with an abscess that needs immediate attention. But are we trained to handle the anxiety and stress of an unprecedented pandemic shutdown? Closing down our offices and furloughing staff was stressful enough, but the stress doesn’t end when we open back up. Not by a long shot. Opening our offices up again and opening them up to new protocols and operations amidst uncertainty is enough to keep us in “flight or fight” mode. But we don’t have to do either of those. With Emotional Intelligence, we can remain calm and thoughtful in times of stress.

Now more than ever, we need to tap into our Emotional Intelligence and take care of ourselves and each other.

Our reactions and responses to a crisis can fundamentally change the outcomes, attitudes, morale, and spirit of our teams in overcoming and thriving under duress. It’s difficult to make reasonable, balanced decisions when you can’t control your emotions. Our skills at self-directing and problem-solving on a week-to-week basis are key.

It’s never too late to improve upon your Emotional Intelligence – or “EI”. And that is exactly what we need to do right now. Taking a pause to respond to developments in the crisis in a thoughtful, calculated way means we can better care for ourselves, our careers, our practices, and our families. 

If you know me, you know this is a subject near and dear to my heart. We talk about it a lot at DentalPost. We were planning on launching our EI for Employers feature at the 2020 Hinman Dental Meeting that was canceled. But we don’t need a conference to continue to share how EI can help your practice thrive during times of normalcy and – more importantly – through difficult times such as these. 

For those new to it, EI is the ability to identify, understand, and manage emotions–both in yourself and in others. Emotional Intelligence includes soft skills like self-awareness, empathy, resiliency, stress management, and motivation. You can read more about EI in our blog, How High Is Your EI? Emotional Intelligence Is the New Smart.

Since the crisis hit, we have not lacked for information. It’s being blasted from every outlet, authority, expert, and non-expert on an hourly basis since this all began. So much so that we created a Road to Recovery Hub to try to curate and organize it all. And while these info hubs are helpful, we can better filter this information and make better decisions when we tap into a combination of resources, including our feelings, our instincts, our intuition, as well as on information coming from our rational intellect and news sources. 

Our emotional brains are what allow us to access memory and assign priority to the choices we face at work and at home. Our EI can guide us when we are forced to adapt to change or respond to the stresses of keeping the business afloat, taking care of our teams, paying bills in spite of income loss, and, most importantly, taking care of our families. We’re in uncharted territory, but our EI is there for this very situation.

The cornerstone of EI is empathy. And we could all use more of that right now.

Whether you are a Dental Assistant with looming student loans, a Registered Dental Hygienist single mom who is wondering where next week’s grocery money is coming from, or one who is not, your concerns are all equally valid. Or perhaps you are the Dentist, who is heartbroken at having to lay off long-time team members while having to take out loans and mitigate a new world of practice liability. Everyone is suffering. If we want to come out of this stronger, we need to practice empathy for each other’s situations, seeking to understand each other’s plights.

What you can do today to build your EI “muscle” & reduce anxiety

  1. Stay positive. Speaking positively manifests positivity around you. Everyone has their moment of breakdown, but when you can, don’t rob the world of your joy. We need it now more than ever. 
  2. Commit to self-care. Know when you need a break. We are in the business of caregiving. You can’t serve from an empty cup. Make sure you put the proverbial oxygen mask on yourself first, so that you can care for others. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 
  3. Be vulnerable. Ever gotten into an argument with someone who is being vulnerable? It’s very hard to go on the offensive with someone who is not being defensive. Save your energy and adrenaline. It’s taxing on your body and energy. 
  4. Accept the circumstances and let it go. The only way out of it is through it. We’re here. It stinks. Let yourself feel and accept all the emotions. The body stores bad energy when you hold on to fear and negative feelings. So intentionally make it a point to regularly let it go. However you do that…a walk, a workout, meditation. Whatever works for you. The residual build-up of all the toxic energy will build and result in a messy meltdown.
  5. Build trust with each other through empathy. When we show each other empathy we build trust. Right now, trust is what is holding us together. It tells the other person on your team that it’s gonna be ok and that in the weary work ahead they can count on you. 
  6. Keep the lines of communication open. Be as transparent as you can with each other. During radio silence, our imaginations are far often more active and cruel than reality. Transparency breeds trust and relieves some anxiety. If you are working on a plan, for now, next week or next month, even if it is tentative, let your people know that you are working on one and that you are thinking proactively. If you’re not already, consider bringing your team together with a virtual huddle as a way to connect and talk about your path forward.

We are all in this together. We may not get to choose the outcome, but we can choose how the journey there goes.

This can be our finest hour together as a dental community, to move from fear to action, and to love on each other in a way we never have before.

Our values at DentalPost are the same today as every day – in calm or in crisis, we are obsessed with finding a better way and improving lives. We have your back and are here to support you in the best ways we can as we all work through this. 

DentalPost is the dental industry’s premier and largest online and mobile job board.
We connect and educate more than 850,000 job seekers in the U.S. and Canada to build better places to work through teams that excel.

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