Definition of EI
Though being a comparatively recent concept in sociology, emotional intelligence has already been viewed from a variety of perspectives; as a result, the notion under analysis can be defined in several ways, yet each definition revolves around the ability of an individual to recognize and accept their emotions. For instance, Morrison (2007), in his turn, views the concept of EI in a slightly more specific way, emphasizing the motivational properties of EI. Particularly, the researcher explains that EI is a tool for enhancing the metacognitive processes in exploring one’s emotional makeup, developing the ability to stream impulses the right direction, reduce the threat of developing a depressive mind frame, and fostering the skill of empathy (Morrison, 2007, p. 246).
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The ability to listen to the respondent, as well as relating to their emotional experiences and empathizing with them is a crucial step in developing EI. Apart from the specified requirement, however, the process of developing and learning to apply it to address the needs of the target population, one must also consider the steps such as the analysis and interpretation of the impacts of non-verbal communication elements (Morrison, 2007). Although often underrated, non-verbal elements of communication serve a set of specific purposes and often turn out to be just as significant as the verbal ones, if not more.
As Poulin (2009) explains, listening is one of the basic tools for building a link between the patient and the social worker and, therefore, contributing to the development of emotional intelligence in the former. Traditionally split into several types, such as focused listening and reflective and addictive empathy correspondingly, the specified tools serve as the basis for establishing a strong emotional connection between a social worker and a patient. Once the specified emotional link is created, the premises for developing EI in the patient are set (Poulin, 2009, p. 112).
Critical Evaluation of EI
As it has been emphasized above, the concept of EI is comparatively young; therefore, it deserves a detailed evaluation. The complexity of the tool under analysis is another reason for the identification of the subject matter and its further application to occur at a relatively slow pace. According to the existing definitions, EI paves the way for a social worker to the complex and delicate world of the patient’s emotions (Morrison, 2007).
One must also bear in mind the fact that the social worker is also prone to the disbalance in the EI rates. Particularly, the issue of workplace burnout needs to be addressed. As the existing studies say, a consistent work with patients, especially children, and the unceasing emotional involvement into the progress of the patients, leads to emotional devastation (Poulin, 2009). Therefore, it is crucial for a social worker to make sure that their essential needs are addressed properly. For instance, Morrison (2007) mentions that “self-awareness about how working with children may affect you emotionally and how to seek help” (254) is a crucial step on the way to personal and professional evolution. Moreover, making sure that the social worker has not developed a workplace burnout yet and is capable of carrying out the basic self-assessments related to EI is an essential part of working in the specified area (Morrison, 2007).
Moreover, the theory under analysis should be credited for getting the very essence of emotions across. As Morrison (2007) explains, a social worker must be aware of the very nature of feelings: “They are deep level signals about information that demands attention, as to whether a situation is to be approached or avoided” (p. 255). Therefore, feelings and emotions are viewed as signals when considered from the tenets of the EI theory and need to be treated as such in the course of communication with the patient. Particularly, the emotions of the latter should inform the social worker to carry out a specific step and define the further course of actions.
The significance of strong and trustful relations between a social worker and a patient is truly huge. Indeed, according to the existing studies, the application of the key tenets of EI leads to the development of a very strong bond between the social worker and the person undergoing therapy and the related procedures. As a result, the premises for making the positive change that occurs to the patient permanent emerge (Poulin, 2009). The application of the basic tenets of the EI theory, in its turn, leads to the promotion of trustworthy relations between the client and the social worker: “Solidifying or maintaining the gains made through the helping relationship is another task that needs to be addressed during the disengagement phase” (Poulin, 2009, p. 129).
In other words, EI is a perfect tool for building strong relationships between the patient and the social worker. By introducing both stakeholders to the idea of empathy, the specified tool shows to the patient that experiencing emotions means being able to draw valuable lessons from them; moreover, it will teach the patient to draw valuable lessons from negative emotional experiences as well. As a result, the person, who needs the support of a social worker, will be able to learn by acknowledging their past mistakes and locating new means of carrying out basic communication tasks.
The fact that EI allows for promoting tolerance among the target denizens of the community should be listed among the key reasons for introducing the concept of EI to patients. Implying that a person, who is aware of the emotions experienced in the course of communication, is able to understand and accept the feelings of others, the concept of tolerance creates the basis for EI and serves as the foundation for the social worker and the patient to create strong and trustworthy relationships on (Morrison, 2007).
Additionally, tolerance can be viewed as a shield from outbursts of violence, which the patients may be prone to in the course of their therapy. Herein lies the significance of maintaining a tolerant attitude towards the target population and at the same time promoting tolerance as the basis for the patients to create a link between them and the rest of the world. In order to integrate back into the community successfully, people need to accept nonviolent methods of solving conflicts.
The application of EI allows for a significant flexibility in the choice of the strategies that can be used to approach the problem experienced by the customer. Particularly, the person undergoing therapy will be presented with certain options as far as their emotional responses are concerned, Being aware of the processes that occur when a specific emotional response is produced, the patient will be enabled to make a conscious choice and identify the response that is deemed as socially acceptable as opposed to picking the incorrect pattern of behavior without considering or even acknowledging the rest of the opportunities (Roulin, 2009).
EI, therefore, provides patients with enough room for choosing a particular behavioral pattern. Offering people an opportunity at tracking down the development and production of emotions, EI offers tools for both navigating the emotions under analysis and controlling them. As a result, the person, who is aware of the EI strategies, is provided with a sufficient amount of flexibility for choosing a particular mode of behavior.
By learning the principles of EI, one will be able to develop impressive self-management skills (Roulin, 2009). Seeing that EI allows one to have a better understanding of how one’s emotions emerge and develop, as well as what they grow to become, the very phenomenon of EI is likely to help one realize how these emotions can be controlled. As a result, one will be provided with the tools for managing emotions and, thus, one’s self once the basic principles of EI are absorbed and applied to a practical issue.
Seeing that self-management presupposes the ability to take control over one’s emotions, it will be reasonable to assume that the development of the corresponding EI skills, which, in their turn, allow for understanding the nature of emotions, will contribute to a better self-management. According to the existing studies (Roulin, 2009), the adoption of the key EI strategies creates premises for classifying the emotions that one experiences and, thus, determining their effects, root causes and the factors that either enhance or inhibit them, in a very accurate manner. Once knowing where specific emotions come from, one becomes enabled to control the latter and, therefore, indulge in complete self-management.
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Particularly, the use of EI means developing the skills of maintaining focus on what is important at present, thus, helping one shift the emphasis from very strong, yet barely positive emotions, to the one that should be taken into account at present. It would be wrong to claim that the specified approach leads to suppressing emotions; the latter phenomenon can hardly be deemed as positive, since it leads to the development of a range of psychosocial issues and is likely to become a hindrance to the further establishment of a strong connection between a patient and a social worker: “Social work is a collaborative practice. It is not enough for social workers to be able to work individually with their service users, if they are unable to make and sustain constructive within and outside their organizations” (Poulin, 2009, p. 257). Instead, EI allows one to navigate in the pool of emotions and switch from experiencing an irrational emotion to its analysis (Morrison, 2007).
The significance of EI skills is also high in developing emotional awareness. Despite the fact that emotions are an integral part of a person’s existence and brain functioning in general, learning the methods of managing the specified emotions is a rather lengthy and complicated process, as it involves a detailed analysis of a variety of factors affecting the production of specific emotions.
As a learner, I hope to develop the skills that will assist me in my further development; basically, I seek the means to develop self-directed learning skills and engage in the lifelong learning process. Although the specified phenomenon can be considered a mode of life and not a style of learning, it, nevertheless, should be viewed as a goal for a student to strive for, since it provides a plethora of opportunities for further development. Additionally, I hope to learn more about the process of developing EI in patients, as well as the tools for establishing a stronger connection between a patient and a social worker.
As far as my personal goals are concerned, I look forward to developing communicational skills that will help me not only excel in my career but also succeed in creating trustworthy relationships with other people and conversing successfully. Particularly, the development of nonviolent communication abilities should be brought up. There is no need to stress that proper communication skills are not intrinsic and, therefore, has to be developed with the help of consistent training and regular self-reflections.
Particularly, I believe that I will need to work on my conflict management abilities. There is no need to stress the fact that conflicts are inevitable in interpersonal interactions; however, these conflicts, when underrated, may result in rather drastic outcomes; particularly, certain problems may start brewing until they reach critical mass and lead to a major disaster on a personal or even social scale. Therefore, it is crucial that I should develop the corresponding negotiation skills as a functioning member of the society. To be more exact, I will have to learn to listen carefully to the opinion of the vis-a-vis, as well as identify their needs in a manner as expeditious as possible.
Additionally, I will have to develop the skills that will allow me to be sensitive to the changes in people’s emotions. As Poulin (2009) explains, a social worker must use a minimum number of prompts to retrieve the information that will inform the further actions of the social worker. At this point, the importance of nonverbal elements of conversation also needs to be brought up; the specified details may reveal a plethora of additional information about the client, thus, defining the tools that I as a social worker will have to apply to help the patient deal with a specific issue.
Currently, my main professional goal concerns developing the skills required to become emotionally intelligent. There is no need to stress that the acquisition of EI skills is crucial for the further process of learning more about the specifics of a social worker’s profession. As it has been stressed above, emotional intelligence is essential for identifying the ways of helping a patient. Therefore, the development of the corresponding abilities is my current concern.
Seeing that enhancing wellbeing of the target population is another key goal of a social worker, I will have to develop the skills that will contribute to the creating an environment, in which the person requiring my help will be able to feel relaxed and which will bring comfort to the target denizens of the population. In other words, as far as the professional skills are concerned, the application of the above-mentioned information regarding EI can be viewed as the primary professional goal to be accomplished. While learning about the specified information is essential to develop a strong theoretical foundation and a framework to apply for solving complex cases, it is the real-life experience that helps understand what a social worker actually has to accomplish to meet the needs of the patient. Indeed, a closer look at the subject matter will show that the existing theoretical statements are rather loose in terms of their practical application; therefore, one may develop the corresponding skills only by carrying out practical tasks.
Herein the need to analyze the lessons learned in the course of communicating with patients lies. As soon as I learn to draw important conclusions from my professional experiences, I will be able to help the patients in a more efficient manner. The ability to learn from both successes and mistakes is an important quality of a social worker, which I will need to foster to become an expert and help the people, who need an assistance of social works. More importantly, the skill of analyzing family experiences will serve as the foundation for developing a unique technique of addressing patients’ needs. As Morrison (2007) notes, there are “a number of areas of social work activity in which relationship-based practice is crucial” (p. 249). In other words, the
Last but definitely not least, the acquisition of skills of dealing with violence deserves to be mentioned as the significant part of a social worker’s professional responsibilities.
At this [point, the significance of interactions between a social worker and a patient needs to be brought up. Since deriving essential knowledge from regular experiences with patients is crucial for me as a social worker, I will also have to enhance the connection between the patient and myself. As Morrison (2007) explained, the significance of interaction-based practices is not to be underestimated; therefore, it is not merely the experience of practicing certain knowledge, but the fact of communicating with the patient that matter is for me as a social worker the most. Particularly, I will have to consider the development of the skills such as the ability to relate to the patients and their culture, beliefs, and values. Studies show that the necessity to provide significance of understanding and sensitivity to the people, who are in need of social workers’ support, is very high, and that, by learning the specified information about the patient, one is likely to attain the corresponding objectives in the patient’s treatment within a relatively shorter amount of time.
More importantly, the above-mentioned values, beliefs, and cultures create the unique environment, in which the patient evolves and which affects the progress of the corresponding issue that they might have. Therefore, by learning the specifics of the clients’ culture, values and worldview, a social worker is likely to acquire the background knowledge that can later on be used for further professional evolution and the creation of the background knowledge that will serve as the foundation for making a contact with the patient successfully.
Finally, as a social worker, I must learn that violence comes in many forms, and that very manifestation thereof must be addressed in a corresponding manner. As it has been explained above, some of the patients may be unwilling to communicate with the social workers; in addition, some people may have communication issues, which are most likely to result in violent outbursts in case conflicts emerge between the social worker and the patient; thus, the necessity for the former to be ready to face enmity and address it in a proper manner should be considered the priority for a social worker. At this point, the need to introduce the patient to the concept of collaborative work should be mentioned. Supported by the key premises of the EI theory, the aforementioned tool will help make sure that the patient realizes the significance of the intervention; therefore, it is the duty of a social worker to deploy the tool in question in a timely and appropriate manner, therefore, either addressing or preventing the instances of violent outbursts and setting the background for the further productive cooperation between the therapist and the patient.
Being a social worker means using the key tenets of the EI theory on a regular basis, as well as being able to make conscious decisions concerning the choice of the adequate tool for managing a specific problem. Moreover, the significance of EI as a means of carrying out a corresponding intervention lies in its properties such as creating an opportunity for a social worker to reach the patient emotionally. Seeing that the adoption of the EI tool promotes the integration of empathy and cooperation into the intervention, as well as allowing the patient to navigate in the world of their personal emotions, it must be viewed as the ultimate weapon of a social worker in reaching out for the patient and helping the latter overcome the emotional barriers that block the therapist’s way to the core problem of the patient in question. Once the relationships based on trust are created with the help of the EI tool, the further healing process may commence.
Morrison, T. (2007). Emotional intelligence, emotion and social work: Context, characteristics, complications and characteristics. British Journal of Social Work, 37(2), 245-263.
Poulin, J. (2009). The collaborative model: Tasks, inputs, and practice. In Strengths-based generalist practice: A collaborative approach (3rd ed.). Stamford, Connecticut: Cengage Learning.