Brad Culp and Kevin Reitz Speak to Parkinsons Support Group at Trinity United Methodist Church

Oct 27, 2011

Caregivers - Improve your Relationships by Improving your EQ! 

What is EQ?  Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient is a measure of how well you manage emotion in yourself, and in others with whom you interact.  This is particularly important in a homecare environment where a senior or disabled adult is not feeling well.  Relationships, and their dynamics, can be much more volatile in this intimate setting.  Often the ones we treat the harshest are the ones we love the most.  Read on to find out how to better manage your relationships as a professional or family caregiver.

EQ?  What is that?  I’ve heard of IQ?  EQ is your Emotional Intelligence QuotientEmotional intelligence is the ability to integrate feeling, thought and action to influence relationships in a positive manner.  Your Emotional Intelligence Quotient is a measure of how well you do that.

Your intelligence quotient (IQ) typically does not change over the course of your lifetime.  It represents the basic “smarts” with which you have endowed by your Creator.  Unlike IQ, your emotional intelligence quotient can be improved over time by conscious development and practice.

Why is emotional intelligence important?  As it turns out, emotional intelligence is a better predictor of success in life than intelligence, education or training.  People with a higher EQ make more money, are more satisfied with their work, have better family relationships and change jobs less frequently.

How does this relate to a family or professional caregiver in a homecare setting?  Being a caregiver is a high stress job!  Seniors or disabled adults that require a assistance in the home with basic activities of daily living already don’t feel well.  Add the stress of dependency, particularly in a family environment, and you have a potentially volatile mix.

Here are a few easy steps to improve your emotional intelligence:

  1. Learn to recognize stress in other people – really, it’s pretty easy.  Symptoms include:  red face, raised voice, tense muscles (jaw or hands clenched), shaking, blotchy skin.
  2. Learn to recognize stress in yourself – same symptoms, but may also include inability to concentrate, flushed feeling, butterflies in your stomach
  3. Learn to manage emotion in yourself
  4. Learn to manage emotion in others

Learning to manage emotion in others can be tricky.  The reality is that no one person can “change” another person.  A person can, however, change oneself, and can change the dynamic of the relationship.  The best way to do this is to learn to manage emotion in oneself.  One approach to this is the “Six Second Pause”, defined by Joshua Freedman.  According to Freeman, there is a physiological opportunity to change a destructive response to a stressful situation.

Emotions are controlled by a part of the brain called the limbic ring.  If one uses a different part of the brain for only six seconds, there is an actual physiological change that takes place, offering an opportunity to change the dynamic of the interaction.  The different part of the brain is the analytical part of the brain, the cortex.  Here are a few exercises that might help:

¨      Count to six in a language other than English or Spanish

¨      Name the Seven Dwarfs

¨      Name the Seven Virtues (or Vices if you prefer…)

Whatever you think about, you will quickly realize the value in learning to pause before responding.  Give it a try!  For more information, go to