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    How emotional intelligence can enhance the provider-patient relationship


    EI and the Myers-Briggs personality test

    The well-known Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is based on Carl Jung’s descriptions of psychological types and suggests that human behavior is shaped by three sets of preferences: (Jung, Carl. Psychological Types. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971. Print.) orienting to the world (Extroversion or Introversion), collecting information (Sensing or Intuition), or making decisions (Thinking or Feeling). Myers and Briggs added the fourth preference, the style in which we like to live our lives (Judging or Perceiving) (Myers, Isabel Briggs and Myers, Peter B. Gifts Differing: Understanding Personality Type. Mountain View, CA: Davies-Black Publishing, 1980. Print; Richmond, Sharon Leibovitz. Introduction to Myers-Briggs Type and Leadership. Sunnyvale, CA: CPP, 2015. Print.)

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    This questionnaire measures aspects of personality about your understanding of emotions and feelings as they relate to different aspects called emotional competencies, with each of us having our own unique compilation. Awareness of one’s personality type and communication style may facilitate an effective dialogue and avoid poor communication, a common source of patient dissatisfaction.

    Providers and EI

    Those who nurture EI in nursing and medicine have the potential to improve the overall quality of their practice. Awareness of psychological type may help in characterizing differences and similarities in how patients process information regularly discussed in provider-patient encounters (Med Educ 2004; 38:177-86). More accurate communication translates into a better patient experience and may result in improved patient outcomes. If EI improves communication, individually or at the team level, then this may positively affect patient safety.

    Can EI be taught?

    Research confirms that effective leaders in both nursing and medicine have better-than-average EI and qualities of self-awareness, self-management, and empathy (Am J Nurs 2017; 117:58-62). This is important in situations where a patient is coming to the clinic for guidance as well as information. Doctoral nursing programs and medical education are now incorporating EI assessments as part of their curriculum, and there is value in equipping our next generation with this skill (Postgrad Med J 2017; 93:509-11).

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    Fostering EI among providers supports the provision of high-quality and compassionate care. Ideally, challenges in the clinical environment can be approached in an emotionally intelligent manner. As providers are increasingly confronted with initiatives to improve quality of care, proficiency in this area may improve daily interactions and ultimately overall provider performance.

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