"But is this not a job for psychologists?"
"No. I think this has more to do with compassion, and of being able to meet people with respect and understanding. We are not talking about people with severe depressions -- who of course should be referred to experts -- but about those who struggle with depressive emotions. The issue here is to address these emotions early on, in order to prevent critical and prolonged illnesses from developing," Akerjordet says.
EI can be taught
Inspired by her own experiences as a nurse, and encouraged by professor Elisabeth Severinsson, Kristin Akerjordet decided to study EI. She professes her fascination with good role models, nurses who possess great relational understanding as well as personal integrity.
"When such warm and considerate people are on the job, hospital units are usually calm. The units are often more turbulent, especially at night, when staff who don't have these qualities are on duty," she explains.
Akerjordet has asked herself what makes some people induce kindness in others, and why some people manage to encourage good professional standards. Her answer is that this "factor x" is an amalgamation of EI and professional knowledge.
She also believes EI can be taught through self-reflection, training and guidance. But this assumes health personnel are willing to better themselves as human beings, and not let themselves be overcome by routine and habits.
Even if working days are busy, good interactions between people need not require a lot of time, she asserts. It is all about being present and attentive, and emotionally aware of the patients' needs.
Learning to help themselves
While working on her thesis, Akerjordet developed two scales for evaluating her 250 respondents' emotional intelligence -- aim
|Contact: Kristin Akerjordet|
University of Stavanger