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What are the five components of emotional intelligence in nursing? 

Posted on: 20 Jan
Emotional intelligence – also referred to as emotional quotient (EQ) – is recognised as one of the top five soft skills you need in the workplace. It’s proposed that a high EQ is more valuable than a high IQ because emotional intelligence allows an individual to cope well under pressure, navigate social situations with far greater ease and it’s also been linked to better decision making.

The significance of emotional intelligence in nursing cannot be overstated, because it is the key to improving patient care and because it protects nurses from burnout. To help grasp the concept of emotional intelligence, it is broken down into five components. Let’s take a look at why each of these components is important both in a nurse and nurse advisor role:

Self awareness

Self-aware people understand their emotions and, beyond that, recognise how their actions and moods impact others. Because they can identify their strengths and limitations, people with a high self-awareness willingly accept new information and like to reflect and learn from their interactions with others. Despite its importance, it’s estimated that only 10-15% of the population are self-aware.

This component of emotional intelligence can be developed over time and nursing staff who do this through self-reflection, asking for feedback and other self-awareness building activities, are protecting their emotional wellbeing.


A nurse’s awareness of their emotions is the first piece of the emotional intelligence puzzle. The second is the ability to regulate those emotions. This doesn’t mean bottling them, but rather finding the right opportunity to express them. For example, nurses and nurse advisors are among the healthcare professionals helping to fight against Covid-19 and will have faced many moments when the importance of their work could have distracted them from the task at hand. But these healthcare professionals (HCPs) understand the need to focus on the job and choose the right time to express these emotions.

Social skills

No matter whether they’re in a nursing advisor or nurse specialist role, these HCPs are in one of the most sociable jobs. On a daily basis, they’ll communicate with other nurses, doctors, patients, families, caregivers and physicians. One social skill that is unique to nursing is knowing how to use humour to enhance the nurse-patient relationship, also known as complimentary treatment. A nurse’s intuition tells them when it’s the right time to lift a patient’s spirits, when to be serious about delivering medical information and when to let patients and their families have a moment to process information.


Empathy is one of the hardest social interactions to teach, yet it’s an essential component of emotional intelligence. Evidence has shown that nurses and nurse advisors who show empathy directly improve the quality of care and patient outcomes because they put themselves in their patient’s shoes and by doing so they understand what the patient might be feeling.

For nurses who communicate with patients directly, sharing emotions creates a strong connection with the patient and it encourages an open expression of their feelings and concerns for their health. Put simply, empathy is the key to improving patient care.


Self-motivation is more than turning up for work each day. It’s wanting to achieve something that goes beyond recognition, money or other external rewards. Nurses are highly self-motivated because they have an inner drive to provide high-quality patient care. In turn, this helps them to fulfil their inner goals and triggers internal rewards. Nursing staff understand that the key to self-motivation is taking charge of goals and achievements. This is the fuel that drives self-motivation and ensures that a person continues to learn and develop.

Make a difference with a career at IQVIA

These five components of emotional intelligence in nursing demonstrate how nurses and nurse advisors have a unique set of skills and innate attributes that allow them to improve patient care and make a difference. If you’re looking for a role where you can have a positive impact on people’s lives, browse our nurse advisor and nurse specialist jobs. Or if you’re just beginning the search or need some more advice, find out how to job hunt during the pandemic.