Emotional Intelligence in Social Work

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Emotions are feelings and behaviors that can be observed. They guide how people act and react to everyday situations. Emotional intelligence is described as someone's ability to control impulses dealing with emotions, acknowledge their own emotions and acknowledge emotions in others, and help create better relationship skills (Morrison, 2007). The higher one's emotional intelligence, the better equipped they are to deal with disagreements and cope with stressful situations. In high stress careers involving working with people, it is important to understand one's emotional intelligence to see where one stands, and to lessen the level of burden that stress takes (Ogi?„ska-Bulik, 2005).

In the career of Social Work, it is vitally important to have a high degree of emotional intelligence to make a positive impact and become a competent mentor (Morrison, 2007). The worker must be able to recognize their own emotions and how they can impact their life before helping solve a client's emotional stressors. A lack of self-awareness can result in personal biases affecting their observations, as well as crucial information not being picked up on (Morrison, 2007). Not only must a worker be able to have emotional awareness, they also need to understand the impact that empathy has on the helping relationship. They must be able to recognize where someone else is coming from to better understand how to help them cope with hardships or sadness. For my understanding of emotional intelligence, I will distinguish between the different domains and assess the areas to understand my level of emotional intelligence.

Domains of Emotional Intelligence


Definition of relationships. The first domain involves relationships and social skills. This skill is involved with the ability to have strong connections with others, to find common ground with others, to motivate and guide others, and the ability to resolve difficult situations or conflicts using negotiation or persuasion (Wang, Wilhite, Wyatt, Young, & Bloemker, 2012).

Self-evaluation of relationships. When I look at my level of skill involving relationships, I believe I have moderate to high levels in this area. I believe I am skilled in finding common ground with others and being a positive resource for others. In my personal life, my friends always come to me for support because they appreciate the advice I give them, and they know I can help them solve problems. In my professional life, I believe I stand at moderate levels because I am less confident in my skills to resolve conflicts and dispute. I do not enjoy confrontation and would much rather have everyone get along. If coworkers need help though, I am always there for extra support.


Definition of tolerance. Having skills of tolerance includes the ability to understand other's emotions and points of view, respecting and valuing the difference another person brings, as well as positively accepting and handling negative critiques of oneself (Wang et al., 2012). It also involves being interested in another person's problems or values, even if they are opposite of yours.

Self-evaluation of tolerance. I believe I have high levels of tolerance in both my personal and professional life. I understand the value diversity brings to every situation and I always choose to respect someone's opinion, no matter how much it differs from my own. I also have grown up with high levels of diversity all around me and I believe it has helped shaped me into the person I am today. I try to understand that someone's background and beliefs are different from mine, but that does not mean they have less value as a person. I have always believed in treating someone with the same respect as I would want them to treat me, and that is key in any relationship, but especially in a helping relationship.


Definition of flexibility. Flexibility involves the ability to adapt to changing situations, as well as having perseverance in the face of adversity. It is being able to change your lifestyle depending on the situation that comes up (Wang et al., 2012). It also involves being flexible in the way one thinks, which creates a more mature and emotionally competent individual.

Self-evaluation of flexibility. I believe I excel in this area of emotional intelligence. Having grown up in a home dealing with poverty, and attending a boarding school for 10 years, I have mastered the areas of adapting to life situations and perseverance in the face of adversity. I do contribute a lot of that success to my external protective factors, but I also understand my internal protective factors such as my positive mindset that helped make that happen. Not only do I have those characteristics, but I also believe I can be highly flexible when needed. When I work with children, the schedule can change frequently, and therefore, I have to come up with new ideas on the spot. I understand the importance of routines, but I also understand the importance of having back-up ideas in case things change.


Definition of self-management. Self-management skills are involved with the ability to control one's impulses, responding appropriately to others actions even when aggravated, how well someone considers their actions before they react, as well as how someone maintains a clear head when under pressure (Wang et al., 2012).

Self-evaluation of self-management. When I think of my level of self-management, I think I have improved greatly over the years. In one area in particular I would always catch myself trying to control my feelings of anger, were situations involving road rage. I have been trying to create a more mindful life and part of that is thinking before you react and not allowing yourself to get worked up over something small. I now understand someone else's actions do not necessarily have an impact on my life, and there are other things I should focus my attention on.

Emotional Awareness

Definition of emotional awareness. The final area of emotional intelligence involves emotional awareness. This domain involves someone being able to correctly identify how they are feeling, as well as how those feelings can impact others. They are confident in how they express their emotions and are able to use the right emotions in the right place and context.

Self-evaluation of emotional awareness. When I reflect on my level self-awareness regarding emotions, I think I have not mastered this area, but I have shown growth over the years. Previously, I would be afraid to talk about how I am feeling with others and did not want to think it is okay to be sad or mad sometimes. It has taken a lot to understand any emotion is valid, it is just how you respond with that emotion. By teaching preschoolers their emotions, it helps me to reflect on how I can do better, or react differently in front of the students, and even with family and friends.


In conclusion, emotional intelligence involves the ability to understand one's own emotions and in others, acknowledge how to react when dealing with certain emotions, and to learn how to create better relationships skills at the same time. In the role of social work, it is also important to understand one's own emotions to better help the clients. If a person cannot understand their emotions and effects, they are not able to help their clients cope with their issue, and not able to help their clients understand their own emotions.

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Emotional Intelligence in Social Work. (2019, Mar 16). Retrieved July 13, 2024 , from

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