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How High Is Your EI? Emotional Intelligence is the New “Smart.”

Posted December 13, 2019

Tonya Lanthier, RDH

Did you know that your ability to recognize and respond to your emotions can directly tie to your level of success in life? It’s called “Emotional Intelligence” (EI) and it is defined by how aware and in control we are of our emotions, how we express them, and how we handle them.

Studies show that emotional intelligence predicts job performance 2 to 1 over any other job competency. And with Artificial Intelligence (AI) quickly moving into every field, including dentistry, the practices who will succeed are those who build up to include team members with this essential “superpower.” 

How EI Made Me a Top Hygienist & Employee

I have known about EI for a long time. Since childhood, I understood the value of being able to control my emotions and reactions. Having a compromised parent who had obsessive-compulsive disorder required me to be more intuitive and follow my instincts. I learned to develop skills like reading body language and facial expressions, being able to detect a slight variation in someone’s tone of voice and also being able to read a person’s energy. To me, it felt like “common sense.” Understanding it made me a better hygienist, co-worker, and person. 

These talents have served me (and my patients) well over the years, as they enabled me to provide better, more intuitive care to those sitting in my chair and beyond. Before even looking into a patient’s mouth and asking “have you been flossing?” – I could read them and know who was lying and who was not! It has also been invaluable in my personal and professional relationships – and as a leader. And though some of us are born with a naturally high EI, anyone can learn and hone these skills. And everyone should! 

IQ may get you the best scores in dental school, but it’s EI that makes you a standout employee and caregiver. Someone who graduates at the top of their dental school class and is polished and poised isn’t necessarily someone who can succeed in a relationship-oriented small business environment or one particular dental office.  

So, How Do We Measure & Improve EI? 

We all fall somewhere on the spectrum of high and low, but the good news is you can improve a low EI. Emotional intelligence highlights six major attributes:

Self-Awareness – Know Thyself!

Ever caught yourself not feeling joyous when your friends shared their great personal or professional accomplishment? You love your friend, so why did you act that way? If you asked yourself why, you’re one step closer to self-awareness which is key to improving our EI. Identifying patterns, triggers and emotional habits that drive or derail performance is the first step.

Self-Management – Control Thyself!

Being able to control your impulses and avoid rash or impulsive behavior is characteristic of those with high EI.  Have you ever been in a meeting where everyone talks over each other to be heard? These types of meetings are unproductive and lack emotional intelligence.  The ability to understand your effect on others, play to your strengths, and recognize your weaknesses while being confident in spite of them is a gift few possess.  

Motivation: Being Unstoppable.

The ability to remain on track when you feel challenged and things get difficult is a challenge to most. People who can power through the worst situations without becoming overly emotional and shutting down are game-changers in the workplace. It takes retraining our responses to “fight or flight,” and it’s not done overnight. But with time, transformation happens. 

Social AwarenessPay Attention.

When we do more than just show up, and really start paying attention and looking for emotional cues, we can transform our interactions with people and change team dynamics for the better. Being curious about others and less judgmental opens the door for new interactions. 

Empathy – Gain Perspective.

Some people have the natural ability to listen to the people around them and try on their perspective, imagining what it feels like from their viewpoint. But if you aren’t gifted with this talent, you can practice doing it with intention, and quickly see the benefits to both others and yourself, leveraging it to make you more successful in all your pursuits. In conflict, we can ask a neutral person their perception of events. Understanding other perspectives – and the consequences those differences create – can resolve conflicts effectively and efficiently. 

Relationship Management.

When you begin to intentionally incorporate all these characteristics, relationships become easier and stronger. Communication, which we all know is foundational to good relationships, is less strained and can even be joyous. If you know how to develop and maintain good relationships, you communicate more clearly, begin to inspire and influence others, and can lead and manage conflict like a champ. 

When we learn the science of emotions that drives behavior, we reduce the risk of our emotions leading to poor decisions and outcomes. While learning practical strategies, we can respond more appropriately in tense or complex situations. 

You may not be able to outrun your emotions but you can outwit them. What you resist, ultimately, persists. Embracing and accepting your natural responses, while making an intentional commitment to a new self-aware response is not an overnight process. But then, self-improvement never is! The most successful people and teams are a constant work-in-progress. 

Got EI? 

Do you have high EI? Take our EI assessment now and see how you stack up! Plus, check out all the free assessments DentalPost offers to you and your teams now, including the DISC personality assessment, Skills assessment, Core Values Assessment, and Workplace Culture assessment.


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