How to use Emotional Intelligence to Exceed Patient’s Expectation!

How to increase the Emotional Intelligence (EQ) level of the doctor and team.

“Your EQ is the level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them,” says Howard Gardner, the influential Harvard theorist.   As individuals our success and the success of our profession today depend on our ability to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them.

Emotional Intelligence is important because a large amount of patient experience is emotional. This can be both at a conscious level and subconscious. Throughout the care journey your patients are having positive and negative emotional reactions.  Many times, there is an emotional gap between patient expectations and practice perceptions. Your ability to identify those emotional gaps is directly relatated to your EQ level.

How would you rate the EQ of the employees depicted in this video?


I don’t know about you, but I’m going with “LOW” as their overall EQ level.  As funny as this video may be, how many of you have actually experienced bad customer service like that?  I have and I’m pretty sure most of you have as well.  In this video, the gap between the customer expectations and company perceptions is extremely obvious.  However, in our practices, this gap can be very subtle.

Your ability to identify and locate these gaps and to fill them will depend on your EQ and your team’s EQ levels.  According to Harvard Review Guide for Emotional Intelligence, there are five major categories of emotional intelligence.

Five major categories of emotional intelligence:

  1. Self-Awareness – Your ability to recognize your own emotions and their effects. Self-awareness means having a deep understanding of one’s emotions, strengths, weaknesses, needs, and drives.
    • People with strong self-awareness are neither overly critical nor unrealistically hopeful. Rather, they are honest with themselves and with others. People who have a high degree of self-awareness recognize how their feelings affect them, other people, and their job performance.
    • When you are self-aware, you will be able to separate the patient’s reactions and feelings from your own.  This is very helpful when dealing with a difficult patient.  When you can separate yourself from their anger, you’ll have more clarity of mind to find a solution to the problem instead of just reacting to the patient.
  2. Self-Regulation – Your ability to control how long an emotion will last. People who can self-regulate make better decisions, are more resilient, and act with more integrity.
    • Self-regulation, which is like an ongoing inner conversation, is the component of emotional intelligence that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings. People engaged in such a conversation feel bad moods and emotional impulses just as everyone else does, but they find ways to control them and even to channel them in useful ways.
    • Self-regulation and self-awareness goes hand in hand.  When used properly, these two skills can turn you into a patient whisperer.
  3. Motivation – Your positive drive to achieve a goal.  Plenty of people are motivated by external factors, such as a big salary or the status that comes from having an impressive title or being part of a prestigious company. By contrast, those with high Emotional Intelligence are motivated by a deeply embedded desire to achieve for the sake of achievement.
    • People with high EQ are motivated by intrinsic factors when they deliver care.  Don’t let monetary gain be your motivational source in patient care.  Remember, your patients can sense your motives and that will impact their experience in your office.  Moral – Care for the sake of caring!
    • The first three parts of emotional intelligence are about self-management. The next two are about how to deal with others.
  4. Empathy – Your ability to discern the unspoken feelings of othersThe research says there are actually three distinct types of empathy:
    • Emotional empathy: “You feel awful? Then I feel awful too!”
    • Cognitive empathy: “I understand that you are feeling awful. That must suck.”
    • Compassion: “You feel awful? I feel for you. How can I help?”

    All three have their place. You want friends and family to have emotional empathy. You want someone to really feel what you feel when you’re down or to be thrilled with you when you’re up.

    However you don’t want your surgeon crying so hard about your tumor that they can’t perform the operation. You want them to have cognitive empathy.

    And we can all do better with more compassion. With compassion we feel for, not with. And this drives us to want to help, while not emotionally impairing us from helping. Compassion is what you want to focus on to improve the patient experience in your office.

  5. Social skills – Social skill is friendliness with a purpose: moving people in the direction you desire, whether that’s agreement on a a treatment plan or enthusiasm about a new lens technology. Socially skilled people tend to have a wide circle of acquaintances, and they have a knack for finding common ground with people of all kinds. They really have a knack for building rapport.
    • Social skill is the culmination of the other dimensions of emotional intelligence. People tend to be very effective at managing relationships when they can understand and control their own emotions and can empathize with the feelings of others. This is key for creating a positive patient experience.

When it comes to patient satisfaction, IQ alone is not enough; EQ also matters. In fact, psychologists generally agree that among the ingredients for success, IQ counts for roughly 10% (at best 25%); the rest depends on everything else — including EQ.

Your patients will spend more time with your team, than they do with you.  Therefore, it is vitally important that your team is made up of people with high EQ. Go over this article in your team meetings and review these five areas with them.  As they become more emotionally intelligent, your patient satisfaction will go through the roof.

Competition is fiercer than ever with so many more options available for Eyecare. Just having good services and products at a reasonable price is no longer enough. Patient experience is the new battleground and emotion should be your weapon of choice.  Eliminating the emotional gaps in your patient experience will strengthen your arsenal and position you to win and in the battle.

If you missed the first article in this series, click here to read it.  So stay tuned for more!

As you enjoy these articles, please add your friends to the email list and leave a comment below.  Thank you for sharing!


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