Emotional intelligenceBMJ 2003; 326 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/sbmj.030218 (Published 01 February 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;326:030218
- Brian McMullen, portfolio doctor and specialist in holistic medical education1
- 12 Burnside, Kinloss, Moray IV36 3XL
Again, we feel anger and fear without choice, but the virtues are modes of choice or involve choice.
Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics, book 3
A few years ago, when I worked as a full time general practitioner, I did not like certain groups of patients. Angry people were a particular problem. Thankfully, I did not meet too many, but I would often feel paralysed and helpless after an encounter. Anger would simmer inside me for ages. I never considered that part of the anger might belong to me or that all of it might belong to the patient or that I had a choice about the feeling: I was a clever doctor with a low emotional intelligence (EQ).
What is emotional intelligence?
Aristotle was writing about emotional intelligence in 350 bc, long before the term became fashionable. Daniel Goldman, a journalist, is responsible for the current popularity of the subject, because of his international bestseller.1 In 1990, two colleagues from Yale University, Peter Salovey and John Mayer first proposed a concept of emotional intelligence (see box).2
Self awareness--knowing your emotions
Managing your emotions
Self motivation, emotional self control, and getting into the flow state
Empathy--recognising emotions in others
Handling relationships--interpersonal effectiveness
Academic or cognitive intelligence on its own is poor preparation for the emotional challenges that you will meet during your medical career. Emotional intelligence is a term for the other factors that can lead you to healthy relationships and the ability to respond to the trials of your life and career in a positive manner.
Your EQ measures your ability to manage emotions rather than the opposite way around. It is linked to IQ (a measure of intellectual intelligence)3; the two systems support each other. Evidence to support this link comes …