Danny Gallagher | burnout and emotional intelligence

Burnout is an epidemic in our culture. In fact, in May of 2019, the World Health Organization officially identified burnout as an “occupational phenomenon.” Burnout is caused by chronic, unmanaged stress and results in poor work performance, negative feelings or cynicism regarding work, as well as utter physical and mental exhaustion.

What is Emotional Intelligence? 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) involves the ability to manage emotions. Daniel Goleman, the author of the 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, argued that EQ is as essential to success as IQ. Goleman also wrote that emotional intelligence requires self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.

People who have high EQ’s are good at identifying their own emotions, why they may be feeling those emotions, and how the emotions might affect the people around them. They are also skilled at identifying with others’ emotions and showing others that they care.

How Can Emotional Intelligence Help Prevent Burnout?

Since developing emotional intelligence requires heightened awareness of one’s emotions, EQ can be very effective at preventing burnout. If you’re more aware of how you’re feeling, you’re less likely to allow yourself to live in a state of chronic stress. When your stress levels get high, you’re more able to recognize that you should take time to decompress. You are also more likely to know what it is that you need to feel your best— whether it’s a good night of sleep, a night out with friends, or some time off work. 

Emotional intelligence also gives you a sense of control. When you have a high degree of emotional intelligence, rather than feeling like a slave to your feelings, you understand that emotions are temporary. You aren’t as hard on yourself when you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed because you recognize that those emotions are normal. 

Studies have confirmed that there is a correlation between high levels of emotional intelligence and lower instances of burnout (also known as “Burnout Syndrome”). In one study, researchers found that there was a clear, positive relationship between EQ and burnout. In other words, the higher the emotional intelligence of a particular individual, the less likely they were to experience burnout. 

All of this means that, if we want to curb the burnout epidemic in our country and prevent burnout in our own lives, we should be working on increasing emotional intelligence. Business owners should also focus on building strong emotional relationships with their employees. It would also be beneficial for organizations to implement programs geared toward increasing employees’ emotional intelligence.