Why Some People Get Burned Out and Others Don’t
Stress, defined as coping with long hours, intense pressure and ongoing work crises, can ultimately lead to burnout, which can be characterized by emotional exhaustion, cynicism and a declining confidence in one’s abilities. In this Harvard Business Review article, interviews conducted among 35 chief medical officers at 35 prominent hospitals revealed a common theme to keeping one’s level of stress under control and warding off burnout: leveraging your emotional intelligence (EI).

Authors Kandi Wiens and Annie McKee explain that the qualities that comprise emotional intelligence allow us to understand our sources of anxiety and frustration and better equip us to consider how we respond in stressful situations. Self-awareness, self-management, conflict management, empathy and compassion combine to form one’s EI and are indicators of an ability to manage even extremely stressful circumstances without turning down a path to burnout.

The authors suggest the following tips for tapping into EI to manage stress: Don’t be the source of your own stress — many of us unconsciously create more anxiety than the situation warrants, especially those who have perfectionist tendencies; Recognize your limitations; Practice relaxation techniques when tension and anxiety rise; Reevaluate your perspective of a given situation and shift your mindset toward positive problem-solving; and de-escalate conflicts by sharpening your listening skills and more fully understanding someone else’s perspective. Doing so can effectively neutralize a conflict, lessen stress, and pave the way toward better collaboration.
Harvard Business Review (11/23/16) Wiens, Kandi; McKee, Annie
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