EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: A benchmark to surgical conscience.

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The operating room is a dynamic setting in the clinical environment that has it’s own unique practices, structure and obstacles.

Emotional intelligence, a not too popular concept that describes the connection between emotional energy and action is an element if adequately understood and utilized bestows credibility to professional practices, especially for peri-operative nursing practice.

This article explores briefly but deeply the subject of Emotional Intelligence and relates it to Nursing & Medical practice.

Ayinla Daniel (Rn)
(Editor Care City).

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE: A benchmark to surgical conscience.
By Moses, Esla (RN)


Emotional Intelligence (EI) is an important factor that helps people to connect successfully with the modern world and themselves when it comes to issues of happiness [emotional makeup] and success in their relationships, careers and goals.

EI matters just as well as the intelligence quotient (IQ). We actually need EI to be able to convert our intentions into action and to make informed decisions on things that matter most to us without severing relationships with people around us.

It helps in relieving stress and promotes empathy thereby diffusing conflict…

Psychologists; Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey introduced the concept of emotional intelligence, (EI), in the early 1990s.

An inner commitment to strictly adhere to aseptic technique principles throughout the three phases of peri-operative practices which also requires the perioperative team members to be accurate observers as to report any incorrect procedure or violation of sterile field is referred to as “Surgical conscience”

Berry & Kohn’s (13th edition) observed self-determination, self-regulation and control as elements to surgical conscience, can easily be achieved with good emotional intelligence.

What is Emotional Intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions and the emotions of others. The capacity to reason about emotions and emotional information to enhance thoughts is emotional intelligence.

It is important to mention here, that it is not always true that the smarter people are the more successful or fulfilled in life they are. Some people may be academically brilliant but are socially inept and are unsuccessful at work and personal relationships.

Skills in emotional intelligence;

It is generally said to include three skills:

  • Emotional awareness: The ability to recognize one’s personal emotional being, detect emotions in people’s faces, pictures, voices, and cultural artefacts, and to harness emotions applying them to tasks like thinking and problem solving is the basic aspect of emotional intelligence.
  • Understanding emotions: This is the ability to comprehend emotional language and to appreciate complicated relationships among emotions, encompasses the ability to be sensitive to slight variations between emotions.
  • Managing emotions: The ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

Emotional intelligence is also described as the ability to perceive, understand and manage emotions.

It is also to understand and influence the emotions of others.
In practical terms, this means being aware that emotions can drive our behaviour and impacts on people, and learning how to manage these emotions both ours and others – especially when we are under pressure, describes emotional intelligence

Successful intelligence requires that we know how to put our intellectual best foot forward. With high EI, you can succeed in many areas of life. Your close relationships can benefit from knowing how to read people’s feelings, regulate your own emotions (especially anger), and understand what you’re feeling, and why.

Can Emotional Intelligence Be Learned?

Like cognitive intelligence, Mayer believes EI is primarily shaped by genes and early experiences. Salovey (2018) agrees that like musical talent, EI is partially innate but he argues that people can learn a richer emotional vocabulary and they can self-regulate emotions better.

Strategies to Emotional Intelligence:

Think about feelings. Emotional intelligence begins with what is called self- and social awareness, the ability to recognize emotions (and their impact) in both you and others. That awareness begins with reflection. Ask questions like:

  • What are my emotional strengths? What are my weaknesses?
  • How does my current mood affect my thoughts and decisions made?
  • What’s going on under the surface that influences what others say or do?

Think before you act; Making commitments too quickly is dangerous. The pause is as simple as taking a moment to stop and think before you speak or act. (Easy in theory, difficult in practice).

This can help save one from embarrassing moments. In other words, pausing helps refrain from making a permanent decision based on a temporary emotion.
Strive to control personal thoughts. One doesn’t have much control over the emotion he experiences in a given moment. But he can control his reactions to those emotions by focusing on his thoughts.

Benefit from criticism: Nobody enjoys negative feedback. But criticism is a chance to learn, even if it’s not delivered in the best way. And even when it’s unfounded, it gives you a window into how others think. When you receive negative feedback, keep your emotions in check and ask yourself. How can this make me better?

Show authenticity: Authenticity doesn’t mean sharing everything about yourself to everyone all the time. It does mean saying what you mean, meaning what you say, and sticking to your values and principles above all else. Not everyone will appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings. But the ones who matter will.

Demonstrate empathy: The ability to show empathy which includes understanding others’ thoughts and feelings helps you connect with others. Instead of judging or labelling others, work hard to see things through their eyes. Empathy doesn’t necessarily mean agreeing with another person’s point of view. Rather, it’s about striving to understand which allows you to build a deeper, more connected relationship.

Appreciate others: All humans crave acknowledgement and appreciation. When you commend others, you satisfy that craving and build trust in the process. This all begins when you focus on the good in others. By sharing specifically the most appreciable part of them. This inspires them to be the best version of themselves.

Give helpful feedback. Negative feedback has great potential to hurt the feelings of others. Realizing this, reframe criticism as constructive feedback, so the recipient sees it as helpful instead of harmful.

Apologize as at when due. It takes strength and courage to be able to say sorry. But doing so demonstrates humility, a quality that will naturally draw others to you. Emotional intelligence helps one realize that apologizing doesn’t always mean you’re wrong. It does mean valuing your relationship more than your ego.

Forgive: Hanging on to resentment is like leaving a knife inside a wound. While the offending party moves on with their life, you never give yourself the chance to heal. When you forgive and learn, it prevents others from holding your emotions hostage – allowing you to move forward.

Keep commitments: It’s common nowadays for people to bridge an agreement at their own pace. When you make a habit of keeping your word – in things big and small – you develop a strong reputation for reliability and trustworthiness.

Assist others. One of the greatest ways to positively impact the emotions of others is to help them. Most people don’t really care where you graduated from, or even about your previous accomplishments. But what about the hours you’re willing to take out of your schedule to listen or help out? Your readiness to get down in the trenches and work alongside them. This builds trust and inspires others to follow your lead when it counts.

Protect self from emotional sabotage. Realize that emotional intelligence also has a dark side – such as when individuals attempt to manipulate other’s emotions to promote a personal agenda or for some other selfish cause. As such, continue to sharpen your own emotional intelligence – to protect yourself when they do.

I don’t become defensive when criticized
I stay calm under pressure
I manage anxiety, stress and anger in the pursuit of a goal
I handle setback effectively
I utilize criticism and other feedback for growth
I am positive
I maintain a sense of humour
I try to see things from others’ perspectives
I recognized how my behaviours affect others
I air out grievance skillfully
I can listen without jumping to judgment
I can easily admit to making mistakes

Strongly disagree
Neither agrees nor disagree
Strongly agree

As Perioperative team members, we are saved to serve humanity; we need to trust God for this virtue (EI) to be able to deliver well in this vineyard. Our ability to strike a balance and cope with the various challenging characters we come across daily in our working places and still achieve our set goals (surgical conscience) proves that we are Emotionally Intelligent.

Selected References/Links:

  • Cavazotte, F., Moreno, V., & Hickmann, M. (2012). Effects of leader intelligence, personality and emotional intelligence on transformational leadership and managerial performance. The Leadership Quarterly, 23(3), 443-455. Doi:10.1016/j.leaqua.2011.10.003
  • www.en.u.wikepedia
  • www.psychilogytoday.com
  • Salovey, p., & Mayer, J. D. (2015). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality,9(3),185-211.
  • Berry & Kohn’s, surgical conscience, a textbook for Operating room technique (13th edition). Elsevier.

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About the author:
Mr Moses Esla is a Registered Peri-operative Nurse residing in Nasarawa state Nigeria, he is currently practising with Dalhatu Araf Specialist Hospital Lafia, Nasarawa State Nigeria. His hobbies include listening to music & engaging in outdoor activities. You can contact him via his email: emosesmail@gmail.com.


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