Emotional intelligence skills (self awareness, self management, social awareness, social skill) are fundamental to the work we do as physicians, and play a large role in both preventing and managing conflict. Christiana described the importance of self awareness – knowing ones emotions, strengths, weaknesses, drives, values, and goals and how they influence others. Social awareness is equally important; those with high social awareness consider others’ feelings when making decisions, are aware of others’ concerns, and are able to build networks to accomplish larger goals. If Sam had been able to think back to internship and the multiple demands Nina was facing while talking on the phone, perhaps it would have prompted Sam to consider going to the floor to find Nina to give recommendations. Sam acknowledges feeling awkward calling Nina about the consult (self awareness), but didn’t take the next step to consider what Nina’s perception of their prior interaction was or how it might affect her in the current interaction (social awareness). Improving your social awareness takes deliberate practice, but can be done. Strategies include paying close attention to people's facial expressions and body language, being curious about other people’s experiences and perceptions, and practicing asking questions that help you learn more about these things. One of my favorite expressions is “turn to wonder.”
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