Welcome to the text-only version of the CWTI Pre-Service Emotional Intelligence Online Lesson. If you wish to return to the version which contains images, please CLICK HERE.

If you need special accomodations that this text-only website does not provide or you have other questions, please email your instructors: preservicetrainers@usm.maine.edu

The following links will take you directly to a section of the online lesson. Within every section, the page name and a detailed description of the content for each page is given. Read every page in the section in sequence to match the flow of the lesson. After each section, a link is provided to return to the top of the page in case you would like to navigate to another section to review.

Link to Introduction

Link to The Purpose of Emotion

Link to Defining Emotional Intelligence

Link to The Components of Emotion

Link to Emotion and the Brain

Link to Emotional Regulation

Link to Emotional Hijacks

Link to Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Link to References

Contact Us

Section: Introduction

Page: Intro.html


This lesson introduces the uses of emotional intelligence (EI) in social work and child welfare casework. The role of emotional intelligence in managing our feelings is the focus as we explore the practical importance of this well-established concept. This lesson also looks at the realistic applications of emotional intelligence in public sector organizations.


Learning Objectives

Define emotional intelligence and describe the interaction between emotion, cognition and behavior.

Describe the impact of emotion on decision-making abilities.

Identify relevant competencies in public sector work and name at least three (3) that the caseworker possesses.

Explain how emotional intelligence influences the core areas of social work practice.

Summarize how emotional intelligence impacts the workplace.



Psychological Understanding

Observational Skills

Analytic Thinking

Strategic Thinking

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Section: The Purpose of Emotion

Page: Purpose.html

The Purpose of Emotion

Most of us pride ourselves on our rational thinking. However, our emotions heavily influence how we see and interact with the world. Our responses to personal encounters are products not only of our rational judgments, but also of our emotions or feelings (Goleman, 1995, p.5). Psychologists, in explaining our spectrum of feelings, point out that feelings are not all or nothing events. There is in fact a wide range in the complexity and intensity of what we feel.

Emotions propel us to take action, and the actions we take create a range of positive or negative consequences. Emotions also have a social aspect in that they help us establish our position in social groups while also forming the basis for effective group processes. Emotions enable us to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. Finally, emotions act as the gateway to our internal and social worlds.

**Opening Case Scenario Activity** - This is a one page activity.

Opening Statement: Child welfare casework is an intense emotional process at times. The following is an actual case situation encountered by a caseworker. As you read, think about how you might feel if you were the caseworker in this scenario.

Case Situation:

I received an emergency report from a day care concerning a four-year-old girl named Eva. The report stated that Eva was crying hysterically when she arrived at school that morning. Eva told the school nurse that her mother got very mad at her and hit her with a stick on her “bum.” The nurse checked Eva’s back and discovered two 3-inch-long light bruises on Eva’s lower back and observed that her bottom was very red. At my request, the nurse took pictures of Eva’s injuries.

I interviewed Eva at her day care after notifying her mother, Rita, of the report. Eva was inconsolable when I arrived and said to me, “I’m afraid to go home because Mommy is so mad.” I spent almost 45 minutes talking to Eva about what happened. She told me the following: “I wet the bed last night and forgot to put my pj’s and sheets in the washing machine. Mommy got very mad at me because I guess I don’t pick stuff up the way I should. Mommy picked up a long stick and started spanking me hard. I tried to wiggle away but she kept on hitting me and hitting me.” Eva also said that her mother “cursed her out,” although she couldn’t bring herself to say the words her mother used. Eva started sobbing and shaking. She asked me through her tears if she could stay at the day care because she was too scared to go home. I told Eva that I would go talk to her Mom to see if it would be safe for her to go home. Eva looked up at me with her tear-stained face and quietly said, “I wish Mommy just wouldn’t hit me or scream at me.”

After talking to a supervisor, I went to Rita’s home to interview her. I understood that jeopardy did not exist in this situation given what we knew. Therefore, Rita needed to voluntarily agree to services in order for me to help Eva. Rita and I met in the kitchen of her home. In the corner of the room next to the stove, I saw a yardstick. During the interview, Rita repeatedly denied ever hitting her daughter or raising her voice to her even though I described the evidence to the contrary. After an hour of this very frustrating conversation, I said to Rita, “I don’t believe your story, but I believe Eva’s statements about what happened here.” Rita grudgingly agreed to write a safety plan, although she would not agree with her daughter’s statements. As the morning wore on, I was getting more and more upset about Rita’s refusal to take responsibility for what happened to Eva. The first question in the safety plan asks, “What makes it unsafe for your children in your home?” Rita answered the question, “DHHS says I hit my kid.”

There is a blank after this situation with the following instructions: Write a brief paragraph describing how you might feel if you were the caseworker in this situation. What might you think, say and do after Rita wrote her answer? How would you feel about Eva going home at the end of the day?

The preference is that you use the internet page provided for this training to write this paragraph so it can be tracked. However, if you have difficulty accessing that page, please email this paragraph to your instructors at

**End Activity Description**

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Section: Defining Emotional Intelligence

Page: Defining.html

Defining Emotional Intelligence

The idea of an emotional component of intelligence was popularized by the work of Howard Gardner, a Harvard research psychologist. Gardner proposed a theory of “multiple intelligence” in which the roles of inter-personal and intra-personal abilities are important factors in a person’s overall intelligence.

Expanding on Gardner’s work, and especially the work of Salovey and Mayer (1990) who coined the term, Daniel Goleman explored the emotional pieces of intellect, leading to his landmark book, Emotional Intelligence (1995). His work has become popular not only in psychology circles but also in the corporate world. Many workplaces now recognize that cognitive ability alone is not the best or only predictor of job performance; the ability to effectively use emotion is also a mark of a successful worker.


Links of Interest (Note: These are external website that will bring you to another window and we have no control over content):





Elements of Emotional Intelligence

According to Goleman (Goleman, 1995), emotional intelligence includes the following traits and behaviors:

Knowing your emotions - Self-awareness, or recognizing emotion as it happens, is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence.

Managing Emotions - Controlling impulses, delaying self-gratification, and regulating one's own moods are skills built upon self-awareness.

Motivating oneself - Using emotion to achieve a goal.

Recognizing emotions in others - Having empathy toward others and recognizing and understanding the emotions of others are essential “people skills.”

Handling relationships - Managing relationships includes recognizing and managing the emotions of others.

Goleman and others identified two important elements of emotional intelligence: Recognition and impulse control.

Impulse control is the ability to resist temptations in order to achieve a goal.

Recognition is the key component of emotional intelligence and includes:

Self-awareness of emotions.

Understanding how to express emotion appropriately.

Empathy, which is the ability to identify others’ emotions. The ability to connect with the thought and feelings of others is critical to emotional intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is as much about knowing how and when to express emotion as it is about recognizing it. Rather than allowing emotions to take control of behavior and decision-making, emotional intelligence involves thinking about feelings in order to guide behavior. These skills will be important in your work to support families because you will find yourself in challenging situations that will call for rational thinking before taking action. You will need to understand the feelings, moods and behaviors of the children and families you work with as they go through a very emotional process. In the next two sections, we describe the biological, social, and cognitive features of emotion.

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Section: The Components of Emotion

Page: Components.html

The Components of Emotion

Emotions have aspects that can be observed, measured and predicted. There are three general components to emotion:

Behavioral expression: How you show emotion through facial expression, body posture and tone of voice.

Cognitive: How you evaluate and interpret emotions and translate them into thoughts, including the meaning you derive from the emotion.

Biological arousal: How you physically experience emotion.

The following is an example that illustrates the components:

Emotion: Anxiety.

Behavioral expression:Tight facial expression, crossed arms, hunched over posture, tapping foot.

Cognitive: My final exam is today and I didn’t study enough - I feel sick to my stomach. I’m so nervous

Biological arousal: Increased heart rate; faster, shallow breathing; perspiration.

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Section: Emotion and the Brain

Page: Brain.html

Emotion and the Brain

All of the components of emotion – behavior, cognition and physiological response – are controlled through the network of neurons within our brain.

Over the course of human evolution, the thinking, or "rational" brain, evolved from the biological and emotional brain which helps explain the relationship between thinking and feeling. In essence, there was a primitive, emotional brain long before there was a rational brain to modulate it. During infancy and adulthood, the parts of the brain that control biological and emotional function develop first, with the rational brain becoming fully developed much later. Understanding these concepts helps us understand why and how people react in certain ways during stressful situations. Since our emotions impact rational decision-making, you can see why families may make certain decisions in their lives during highly emotional and stressful moments.

Heart Vs. Head

Think of the emotional and rational minds as “heart vs. head.” The more intense a feeling, then more dominant the emotional mind can become leading to the rational mind becoming ineffective to control the emotional response. Ideally, the emotional and rational minds ideally balance each other. Emotions feed into and inform the operations of the rational mind while the rational mind refines and sometimes rejects the expression of emotions. When passions surge, this delicate balance often tips, with the emotional mind overtaking the rational mind.

In a sense, we have two inter-connected minds:

One that thinks - the conscious, deliberate, and rational mind - and one that feels - the emotional mind that is more impulsive, powerful and sometimes illogical.

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Section: Emotional Regulation

Page: Regulation.html

Emotional Regulation

What happens when there is a breakdown of the balance between the emotional and rational minds, leading to an inability to manage overwhelming emotion? The ability to manage the expression of emotion is a trademark of emotional intelligence, but all of us have experienced emotional upsets that interfere with daily life. These upsets could involve a paralyzing anxiety at a final exam, a deep depression, or an anger that distances us from loved ones. The ability to manage your feelings and control the expression of emotion is called emotional regulation.

Scientists have found that “working memory” is overwhelmed when emotions rush over us (Goleman, 1995). Working memory helps us manage the information we need to accomplish a task, including organization and following directions. It also enables us to complete intellectual tasks, from speaking in logical sentences to analyzing a report. Therefore, in times of emotional distress it might seem like we “can’t think straight.”

Coping Strategies

The design of the brain means that we sometimes have little or no control over when we are swept away by emotions. However, we can interrupt the downward spiral of emotional deregulation by using effective coping strategies. The use of positive coping strategies is a mark of emotional intelligence. The following graphic displays the steps involved in moving from distress to emotional regulation.

**Graphic Description**

Emotional Regulation graphic showing progression from a trigger event (man with bomb) to deregulation (man juggling) to search for a coping strategy (man with periscope).

**End Graphic Description**

The goal in emotional regulation is not to suppress emotion but to achieve balance. Emotions add color and interest to life; to completely squelch feelings would be to deny the essence of being human. We can bring balance to the emotional ups and downs of life by making our feelings consistent to life’s circumstances. Two examples of striving for balance might include:

Avoiding “road rage” when cut off in traffic

After getting a poor grade on an exam, keeping perspective and not falling into depression

Normal moodiness is not a great concern; moods pass with time. What are of concern are the extremes of emotion – rage, depression, and chronic anxiety – that can have serious and prolonged impact upon day-to-day life.

As a caseworker, you will see the extremes of emotions in others or even yourself due to the emotional nature of the work. Achieving emotional regulation by recognizing distress and using an effective coping strategy helps bring balance to one’s emotional life. In the next section, we review coping strategies for an emotion often seen by child welfare caseworkers - anger.

Page: Regulation2.html

Emotional Regulation

Coping With Anger

Perceived danger or threat can trigger anger. This danger can be more symbolic than physical; for example, danger to a relationship, being treated unfairly, or being prevented from reaching a goal. Each person has their preferred coping mechanisms for times of minor to moderate distress, whether it is taking a nap, calling a friend to talk, eating a favorite comfort food, or exercising. Scientists have agreed upon some generally useful coping strategies for different types of emotion, including anger.

Goleman described three common ways of diffusing an angry response to a trigger: Challenging angry thoughts, cooling down, and venting.
Challenging the thoughts that trigger anger is more easily accomplished before anger is out-of-control. Thoughts exist in a constant feedback loop with our emotions and behaviors, and we can use our thoughts to influence both.

Example: Your co-worker snaps at you during an important meeting. You refocus your thoughts to reach for understanding rather than immediately snapping back at him. You think to yourself, “Wow … Tom must be having a bad day. I know he’s dealing with that tough case right now and he must be really stressed to snap like that.” If you continue with that train of thought, you will probably find yourself feeling calmer.

Cooling down is an effective strategy that involves creating distraction by involving yourself in an enjoyable activity or going to a pleasant, calming environment. Most people at one time or another have gone for a walk outside or exercised when feeling upset or angry. This strategy seems to work by helping the body move from a high-arousal state of anger to a low-arousal state.

“Venting” angry feelings, or catharsis through dialogue, yelling or other strong expression is generally not an effective strategy to cope with rage (Goleman, 1995). The emotional and physiological centers of the brain become more aroused when venting, leading to even more angry feelings.

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Section: Emotional Hijacks

Page: Hijack.html

Emotional Hijacks

What happens when coping strategies are not effective and our emotions take over? We can be disabled by an "emotional hijack". Most people can think back to a time when someone they know “snapped.” These emotional explosions occur suddenly and in response to the brain’s perception of stress, fear or danger.

Consider the following example of an extreme emotional hijacking. You might see a similar situation in the field of child welfare.

It is another hot and humid day in August. Bob arrives home after an unsuccessful afternoon looking for work. His girlfriend, Judy, isn’t anywhere to be seen and their 2-month-old son is in his crib, crying. Bob calls for Judy to come take care of the baby. She calls back from the other room that she is busy and tells him to take care of things himself. The baby cries louder. Bob grabs the baby and shakes him violently yelling, “Stop crying! Stop it! STOP IT!” Later, when being interviewed by a Child Protective Services caseworker at the hospital, Bob says, “I don’t know what happened … I just wanted him to be quiet.

Bob’s example shows a hallmark of an emotional hijack – once the moment passes, the person has a sense of not knowing what came over them. An emotional hijack results from the “emotional” brain overtaking the ability of the “rational” brain to regulate behavior. Essentially, the emotional brain declares an “emergency”, which triggers the rest of the brain to react before the rational brain has a chance to intervene. The commonly known “fight or flight” response is a good example of this type of reaction.


Emotional Triggers & Blueprints

This emotional alarm system can go off instantaneously, often in response to such triggers as fear of imminent danger. The drawback of these alarms is that they can be out-of-date, leading people to respond to past triggers that are no longer threatening (Goleman, 1995).

People store many potent emotional memories from infancy and early childhood that shape their responses to perceived stress and danger. The relationship between caregiver and child in the first few years of life teach the child many of the emotional lessons they will carry into adulthood. These lessons are stored in the brain as “emotional blueprints” before a child has words to describe their experiences.

Abuse and neglect in a child’s early years can impact these blueprints, leading to reactive emotional triggers later in life. For example, an adolescent who was verbally abused by his birth father as a toddler throws a punch at his foster father when he hears what he perceives to be an insult.

Page: Hijack2.html

Emotion Hijacks

Preventing emotional hijacks:

There are two aspects to emotional hijacks:

A triggered emotional brain

Failure to engage the rational brain to prevent an inappropriate response

Emotional hijacks can be prevented. Our brains have a built-in “off switch” that can disrupt over-reactions and pull us back into rational mode (Goleman, 1995). The brain contains a specialized center, the prefrontal cortex, which is in charge of our ability to organize and plan tasks to reach goals. When called into action, the prefrontal cortex acts as a damper to high emotion. It interrupts the emotional response cycle to evaluate situations for the true level of threat. The prefrontal cortex analyzes the pros and cons of possible reactions, so that an appropriate response may be chosen.

So, exactly how do you call the prefrontal cortex into action to prevent or manage an emotional hijack? Developing and practicing effective coping strategies, such as cooling down and challenging thoughts or others, helps "train the brain" to pause and flip the "off switch" before an emotional hijack can occur.

Emotional hijacks can happen frequently, usually with less severe outcomes than in Bob’s example. It is important to recognize emotional hijacks in ourselves and others so we can effectively manage the situation and keep communication going. The next activity will help you think about the steps you can take to manage emotional hijacks.


**Emotional Hijacks Activity Description** This page has an activity on it.

Emotional Hijack: Most people can recall a time when they were overwhelmed with emotion. Think about a time when you experienced an emotional hijack.

Instructions: In the space provided here, write a brief (1-2 paragraph) description of what happened, including the triggers, how you felt during the ‘hijack’, and how you behaved as a result. Considering what you now know about emotional hijacks, write about how you could have used emotional intelligence to handle the situation.

The preference is that you use the internet page provided for this training to write this paragraph so it can be tracked. However, if you have difficulty accessing that page, please email paragraph(s) to your instructors at preservicetrainers@usm.maine.edu

**End of Activity Description**


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Section: Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Page: Workplace.html

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

We discussed the importance of emotional intelligence for personal success earlier in this lesson. Emotional intelligence also influences workplace success. On its own, emotional intelligence is not a strong predictor of job performance (Cherniss, 2000). However, emotional intelligence provides the foundation for competencies linked to job performance.

Research has identified aspects of emotional intelligence that influence success in a variety of jobs. For example, a study by Schulman (1995) found that new sales personnel with high levels of optimism sold 37% more than their pessimistic colleagues. Optimistic people tend to attribute setbacks to temporary and external factors, while more pessimistic people tend to believe failures are linked to internal and permanent causes. This world-view affects how people manage emotions and also has an impact on their goal achievement - both of which are markers of emotional intelligence.

Other factors of emotional intelligence linked to success on the job include (Cherniss, 2000):

Ability to manage feelings and handle stress

Knowing how and when to express emotion


Note: Each of these abilities are linked to key competencies in the field of social work, particularly child welfare casework. The ability to perceive, identify and manage emotion is at the core of success in social work. In the next section, we discuss the key competencies in public sector work.


Page: Workplace2.html

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Competencies in the Public Sector

Emotional competency is a capacity based on emotional intelligence that contributes to effective performance at work. Proficiency in these emotional competencies can improve productivity and psychological well-being at work (Cherniss, 2000). TThis is important in public sector work, where high burn-out rates and heavy workload can deplete organizations. Not all competencies are necessarily inherent to the person; they can be developed and learned through awareness and experience.

Four emotional competencies are especially key to work in the public sector:



Social awareness, and

Relationship management

These four emotional competencies are categorized by:

Focus on self - “Personal Competence”

Focus on others - “Social Competence”

Ability to effectively recognize emotional content - "Recognition"

Ability to regulate emotion - "Regulation"

Effectively using emotional intelligence in the workplace means identifying and managing emotional cues in both self and others. The emotionally charged situations you will encounter as a caseworker will both challenge and strengthen your abilities in these competencies. As you review the emotional competencies, think about how you might call upon them in situations you may face as a caseworker.

There is a table on this page.

**Table Information**

Title: Emotional Intelligence Competencies in the Public Sector

Column 1: Self: Personal Competence: Under this column and in the row marked " Recognition:" Self-Awareness: Emotional self-awareness, Accurate self-assessment, Self-confidence. In the row marked "Regulation": Self-Managemement: Self-control, Trustworthiness, Conscientiousness, Adaptability, Achievement drive, Initiative

Column 2: Other: Social Competence: Under this column and in the row marked " Social Awareness: Empathy, Service orientation, Organizational awareness. In the row marked "Regulation": Relationship Management: Developing others, Influence, Communication, Conflict Management, Leadership, Change catalyst, Building bonds, Teamwork and collaboration

Jacobsin, Cherniss, and Goleman (2001), The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace

**End Table Information**

The following definitions are taken from Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI), Technical Manual, Hay Group, McClelland Center for Research and Innovation Prepared by Fabio Sala, Ph.D. June 2002

**Definition Toolbox**

Recognizing one’s internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions.


Emotional-Awareness: Recognizing one’s emotions and their effects.

Accurate Self-Assessment: Knowing one’s strengths and limits.

Self-Confidence: A strong sense of one’s self-worth & capabilities.

People with this competence:

Know which emotions they are feeling and why

Recognize how their feelings affect their performance

Are reflective and learn from experience

Receive feedback from others openly and are accepting of new perspectives

Are decisive and are able to make sound decisions despite uncertainties and pressures


Self-Management: Managing one’s internal states, impulses, and resources.   Factors:

Self-Control: Keeping disruptive emotions/impulses in check.

Trustworthiness: Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity.

Conscientiousness: Taking responsibility for personal performance.

Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change.

Achievement Orientation: Striving to improve or meeting a standard of excellence.

Initiative: Readiness to act on opportunities.

People with this competence:

Think clearly and stay focused under pressure

Build trust through their reliability and authenticity

Act ethically and confront unethical actions in others

Are organized and careful in their work

Effectively handle multiple demands, shifting priorities, and rapid change

Generate new ideas


Social Awareness: Effectively handling relationships; having awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns.


Empathy: Sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns.

Organizational Awareness: Reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships.

Service Orientation: Anticipating, recognizing, and meeting clients’ needs.

People with this competence:

Have sensitivity and understand the viewpoints of others

Listen well and pay attention to emotional cues

Gladly offer appropriate assistance to clients

Understand clients’ needs and match them to services

Accurately read key power relationships

Detect social networks

Accurately read the external components of an organization’s dynamics

Relationship Management (Social Skills):
The skill of evoking desirable responses from others.


Developing Others: Sensing what others need in their personal and professional development, and building the strengths and abilities of others.

Influence: Using effective tactics for persuasion.

Communication: Listening openly and sending clear, convincing messages.

Conflict management: Negotiating and resolving disagreements.

Leadership: Inspiring and guiding individuals and groups.

Change Catalyst: Initiating or managing change.

Building Bonds: Nurturing important relationships.

Teamwork & Collaboration: Working with others toward shared goals.

People with this competence:

Are persuasive with others

Register emotional cues in conversation and attune their messages accordingly

Foster open communication and seek mutual understanding

Step forward to lead as needed

Recognize the need for change and remove barriers

Handle difficult and tense situations with diplomacy and tact Build rapport and keep others in the loop

Focus on both tasks and relationships

**End Definition Toolbox**


**Public Sector Competencies Self-Audit and Action Plan **

We have a strong preference that you fill this out through the link for collection purposes. If you are unable to, please rate your self on the following statements and answer the questions in an email to your instructors at: preservicetrainers@usm.maine.edu

Self-audit instructions: Please rate yourself on each of the factors associated with the emotional competencies. Your primary trainer will discuss your responses with you during your upcoming meeting.

Self-Awareness: Recognizing one’s internal states, preferences, resources, and intuitions.

Emotional-Awareness: Recognizing one’s emotions and their effects. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me.

Accurate Self-Assess: Knowing one’s strengths and limits. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Self-Confidence: A strong sense of one’s self-worth & capabilities. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Self-Management: Managing one’s internal states, impulses, and resources.

Self-Control: Keeping disruptive emotions/impulses in check. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Trustworthiness: Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Conscientiousness: Taking responsibility for personal performance. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Achievement Orientation: Striving to improve or meeting a standard of excellence. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Initiative: Readiness to act on opportunities. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Social Awareness: Effectively handling relationships; having awareness of others’ feelings, needs, and concerns.

Empathy: Sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, and taking an active interest in their concerns. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Organizational Awareness: Reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me

Service Orientation: Anticipating, recognizing, and meeting clients’ needs. Not selected (1) Never like me (2) Seldom like me (3) About half of the time like me (4) Usually like me (5) Always like me


Action Plan

Action Plan instructions: Looking back at your responses, choose at least three factors you would like to develop. Write a brief action plan listing some steps you will take to enhance your abilities in this area. Your primary trainer will discuss your Action Plan with you during your upcoming meeting.

Factor 1 - Type in a factor you would like to develop.

Step 1 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Step 2 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Step 3 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Factor 2 - Type in a factor you would like to develop.

Step 1 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Step 2 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Step 3 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Factor 3 - Type in a factor you would like to develop.

Step 1 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Step 2 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.

Step 3 - Type in a step you would take to develop the factor.


Type in "Additional Thoughts".

If you have any further comments, email your instructors at: preservicetrainers@usm.maine.edu

**End Public Sector Competencies Self-Audit and Action Plan Description**

Page: Workplace3.html

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Emotional Intelligence in Social Work

Relationship-based work is at the heart of social work practice. The International Federation of Social Work defines social work as: Promoting social change, problem solving in human relationships, and the empowerment and liberation of people to enhance well-being. (IFSW, 2000) Link – http://www.ifsw.org/en/p38000208.html (Note: This will take you to an external webpage and another window. We have no control over the content).

The inter- and intra-personal skills required in social work rely heavily upon the abilities and competencies of emotional intelligence. Important skills and abilities include active listening, empathy, and recognizing verbal and nonverbal cues. These are particularly important in child welfare casework.


Page: Workplace4.html

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Five Core Areas

Morrison (2007) linked emotional intelligence to five core areas of social work practice:

1. Engagement: Relationship-building is the crucial first step in the casework process. The rapport and trust developed between caseworker and client is the foundation for the future work. Social workers must pay attention to the inherent power differential between themselves and clients and the emotional impact this power discrepancy may have on clients. This is especially true in child welfare work due to the legal mandates involved. Many of the families you will work with have had contact with the social service system before and may carry negative feelings from these experiences. Your ability to recognize any negativity, resistance, or distrust from families during the engagement phase of the relationship will enable you to respond with empathy and to effectively manage your own emotions around these potentially difficult interactions.

2. Assessment & Observation: The worker/client relationship can have an impact on the quality of the assessment process. Assessment requires both accurate recall and observation, which emotion can easily cloud. Lack of self-awareness or suppression of emotion may lead to information being missed or distorted. Assessment also includes accurately identifying the emotions of others and exploring them as needed.

3. Decision-making: Due to the emotional nature of social work, it may not be possible to completely remove emotion from rational decision-making. In fact, emotional knowledge can be key in making an informed decision. Emotion and thought exist on a continuous feedback loop, both informing the other. Failing to manage emotions can compromise the delicate balance between emotion, thought, and action. Disrupting this balance can lead to impulsive decisions that are not in the best interests of the client.

4. Collaboration & Cooperation: Social work does not only take place only between worker and client; the work also occurs in collaboration with organizations and systems. As a caseworker, your work with families and children will bring you into considerable contact with mental health professionals, educators, attorneys, courts and agencies. The ability to work in partnership with others toward a common goal – the safety, permanency and well-being of children – is a key competency of casework and a marker of emotional intelligence.

5. Resilience & Coping: For child welfare workers, self-awareness of the emotional impact in working with vulnerable children and families is crucial. The emotional nature of social work makes it necessary for workers to make resilience and coping a priority. In general, workers high in emotional intelligence perceive less job stress than their colleagues (Oginska-Bulik, 2005, Nikolaou & Tsaousis, 2002). Workers with strong emotional intelligence generally employ a more optimistic outlook, utilize effective coping strategies, and are proactive in seeking support.

Page: Workplace5.html

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Emotional Intelligence in Organizations

Social Defense Systems

Emotion is not just an individual experience. It is also an expression of collective and organizational experience (Morrison, 2007). Public sector organizations carry significant stress due to the emotional, political, and public nature of the work. Therefore, emotion is central to public sector organizations. How do organizations and the individuals within them cope in order to get the work done?

Menzies (1970) described the “social defense systems” that enable organizations to carry forward. Organizations and individuals frequently develop social defense systems to protect against anxiety and social sanctions, and also to guard against feelings and experiences that are too painful to confront. These defense systems are unconsciously supported and reflected in rituals, processes and systems of an organization. To enable individuals to cope emotionally and function in their assigned roles, the members of an organization essentially create mechanisms or "defensive routines" to avoid emotional upset. Social defense systems often develop over time and result from an unconscious collusion among individuals to prevent painful emotions (Menzies, 1970; Morrison, 2005).

Here are three examples of some common social defense systems seen in public sector organizations:

Depersonalization occurs when a person(s) perceives a stressful experience detached from the experience itself as an outside observer. . The person using the defense system removes individual distinctiveness from a person or event. For example, a caseworker refers to a client by case number or by an inappropriate nickname, rather than by their proper name.

Detachment has two expressions. In a negative sense, it refers to an inability or an unwillingness to connect with others emotionally and avoiding situations that may lead to emotional attachment. In the positive sense, emotional detachment enables the person to maintain healthy and appropriate boundaries with clients or groups in order to be effective in the work. Anyone entering into a helping profession such as child welfare casework needs to develop sufficient professional detachment to control emotion, avoid over-involvement, and maintain objectivity in the face of manipulation and demands. However, detachment can quickly turn maladaptive, leading to an inability to enter into even a healthy professional relationship. Organizations can implicitly support detachment through formal and informal policies encouraging overly strict boundaries and frequent transition of cases from worker to worker.

Denial occurs when a person rejects or refuses to recognize a situation that is too painful to accept, despite evidence to the contrary. A person or entity may also be in denial when they admit a fact or event, but deny its seriousness; or when they admit both fact and seriousness, but deny responsibility. Denial can also involve repressing distressing feelings that arise from relationships. Organizations support this by creating a culture where emotional outbursts are avoided at all costs and staff are encouraged to maintain a “stiff upper lip.” This type of culture prevents staff from asking for and receiving the emotional support they need to process stressful events and remain effective in their role.

Additional Note:

Stress and anxiety are part of being a caseworker. In times of stress, you may revert to one of these mechanisms or see them in colleagues, clients, or even in your organization as a whole. Emotionally healthy people use a variety of defense systems throughout life. However, defense systems can become maladaptive if their persistent use leads to adverse effects on physical or emotional health. Recognizing these social defense systems will enable you to seek or offer support when needed and to effectively handle your professional relationships - a trait of emotional intelligence.

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Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Emotional Intelligence in Organizations

This page start out with a graphic of three circles nested in each other like a bulls-eye.

**Graphic Description**

Inner (gray) circle: experience, plan and act, reflect analyse. Middle (green) circle: uncertainty, risk innovate, solution, persistence. Outer (red) circle: fight and flight, defensiveness, denial and avoidance, share denial, disengagement. Anxiety is highlighted on red circle as well.

**End Graphic Description**

When you reflect back to the Kolb Cycle and the Learning Styles Inventory that were introduced earlier in Pre-Service, you will recall that everyone learns in different ways and has preferences for one area over another. You learned that a person should ideally go through all the phases of the cycle for the most effective learning to occur. This diagram illustrates the cycles that individuals and organizations experience in their emotional learning. Emotional intelligence can help people and organizations remain effective and positive in their work.

The inner circle on the diagram represents the processes we all go through when detecting and responding to an emotional situation. These includes an experience that triggers emotion, reflecting upon the situation, analyzing the options for response, and action.  

New learning experiences can introduce anxiety and uncertainty, which moves a person into the next circle on the diagram – the “Green Cycle.” The Green Cycle involves innovative thinking, risk-taking, persistence, and generating possible solutions. People who are in the Green Cycle may experience clarity about their role in an organization and have a sense of identity and belonging. These processes help to integrate the learning and enable them to move to the next emotional learning experience.

However, when that emotional experience becomes anxiety-provoking, the cycle can move to the outermost circle – the “Red Cycle.” This cycle is characterized by a refusal to accept the experience, denial, flight or flight reaction, defensiveness, denial or avoidance, and disengagement.

Since organizations themselves are in continuous cycles of change and emotional learning, they can find themselves settling in a particular cycle.  Below are some common Red and Green Cycle features seen within organizations. Taken from Morrison (2005).

Green Cycle Features:

Staff have role clarity

A sense of identity and belonging

Focus on service users

Feelings are used appropriately in exploring problems

Differences are valued

Strong feedback loop between workers and the organization

Staff take appropriate responsibility for their work

Supervision is valued

Policies and standards are important

Theory and research are shared and utilized

Staff show care for each other


Red Cycle Features:

Roles are unclear

Policies are ignored or non-existent

Poor planning

Lack of trust and safety

Supervision is poor and not valued

Preoccupation with survival at the individual and organizational levels

Service users are seen as demanding and even dangerous

High staff turnover and/or illness Inability to acknowledge feelings

Inappropriate attitudes

High number of complaints and/or critical incidents


Organizations will find themselves moving back and forth between the cycles in conjunction with internal and external influences and pressures.  Both of these cycles can be contagious, particularly the Red Cycle, which can infect the work environment with negative thinking.  Most people have experienced negative thinking or low morale in the workplace at one time or another.  Each person is responsible for creating and maintaining a supportive working and learning environment that includes open communication and accountability at all levels.  You can call upon emotional intelligence to counteract negative thinking, maintain emotional regulation, and influence the organization toward the Green Cycle. 

You can see that emotional intelligence clearly has an impact on success, at an individual and organizational level.  Clear benefits to having a children’s services workforce literate in emotional intelligence have been identified:


Emotional Intelligence:

Improves engagement of staff and service users

Reduces anxiety and defensiveness in staff and service users

Increases quality of assessment and analysis

Improves ability to recognize needs, risks and strengths

Improves capacity to deal with complexity

Improves collaboration

Models pre-social, empathic, and responsible behavior

Page: Workplace7.html

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Suggestions for Successful Practice

As you develop as a caseworker, you will encounter situations that test your capacity to manage your emotions effectively. Some of these encounters might include:

Removing a child from his/her parents

Testifying in Court

Moving a child to a new placement

Difficult Family Team Meetings


Consider these suggestions for effectively using emotional intelligence in your day-to-day work: 

Maintain optimism by focusing on the “big picture” and keeping things in perspective and in proportion. People who are overwhelmed by details when under stress, often fail to see the whole picture. Strive for regulation by keeping your emotions in proportion to the situation.

Be sure to clarify and check your perceptions to avoid making false assumptions. Consult with your supervisor or a co-worker to process your perceptions with a neutral person. Supervision is a place for you to examine your thoughts and feelings around challenging emotional experiences.

Check the validity of your feelings. Are they appropriate? Legitimate? Valid? What is triggering your emotions and why? Remember that recognition and self-awareness are key components of emotional intelligence.

Once you identify and understand your emotions, decide how to express them. What is appropriate given the context of the situation? How might others respond? Consciously engaging your rational brain can prevent inappropriate emotional expression. Try to prevent your emotions from taking over by stopping to think or using an effective coping strategy before you react, even if just for a moment.

Be aware of your coping skills and defense mechanisms when working through an emotionally charged situation. Stay engaged, confident, and involved. Face your feelings and work through them positively. Seek support from supervisors and others when needed.


**Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Activity**

Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace:
From your personal experience, write about a situation where someone in your school or workplace lacked emotional intelligence.

How do you think this affected their performance? Did it impact the organization’s success? If so, how? Please do not use names or identifying information in your responses.

The preference is that you use the internet page provided for this training to write this paragraph so it can be tracked. However, if you have difficulty accessing that page, please email paragraph(s) to your instructors at preservicetrainers@usm.maine.edu

**End Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace Activity Description**

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Section: References

Page: References.html


Cherniss, C. (2000, April). Emotional intelligence: What it is and why it matters. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, New Orleans, LA.

Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. New York: Bantam.

McKeown, K. (2000). A guide to what works in family support services for vulnerable families. Dublin: Department for Health and Children.

Menzies, I. (1970). The functioning of social systems as a defence against anxiety. London: Tavistock Institute of Human Relations.

Morrison, T. (2007). Emotional intelligence, emotion and social work: Context, characteristics, complications and contribution. British Journal of Social Work, 37, 245-263.

Nikolau, I. & Tsaosis, I. (2002). Emotional intelligence in the workplace: Exploring its effects on occupational stress and organizational commitment. The International Journal of Organizational Analysis, 10(4), 327-342.

Ogińska-Bulik, N. (2005). Emotional intelligence in the workplace: Exploring its effects on occupational stress and health outcomes in human service workers. International Journal of Occupational Medicine and Environmental Health, 18(2), 167-175.

Rosenthal, R. (1977). The PONS test: Measuring sensitivity to nonverbal cues. In P. McReynolds (Ed.), Advances in Psychological Assessment. San Franciso, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Schulman, P. (1995). Explanatory style and achievement in school and work. In G. Buchanan & M.E.P. Seligman (Eds.), Explanatory style. Hillsdale: NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Shoda, Y., Mischel, W., & Peake, P. K. (1990). Predicting adolescent cognitive and self- regulatory competencies from preschool delay of gratification: Indetifying diagnostic conditions. Developmental Psychology

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