Emotional Intelligence

In today’s complex world of crime, violence and stress, law enforcement officers are ever more exposed to toxic situations that may adversely affect their bodies and minds, their relationships with their colleagues, and their job performance. Law enforcement is constantly faced with situations in which they are required to use their best judgment on behalf of others. While typical law enforcement training has focused on the mental and physical development of officers, recent studies around the world suggest that implementing multi-dimensional training can proactively address negative effects of stress, improve the personal safety of officers, and create a committed working environment. 

So, how can you foster your own wellness and positively influence your agency’s performance? You can develop and improve your emotional intelligence (EI). Emotional intelligence can be described as the ability to identify and manage your own emotions as well as the emotions of others, and to use emotional information to guide your own behavior and influence the behaviors of others. EI can inform your decision making and performance in any profession, not just law enforcement, and can make you a more effective leader.

Here are a few ways that you can start to develop your Emotional Intelligence through practice and intentional change:

  1. Manage stress. Identify your sources of stress and determine stress relief measures that work for you. Do not stress about the things you cannot control, but instead focus on what you can control.
  2. Practice active listening. Instead of waiting for your turn to talk, try to fully concentrate on what is being said rather than just passively hearing the other person.
  3. Accept criticism. Understanding that criticism is supposed to be constructive can help you adapt and improve your performance.
  4. Learn from your mistakes. Take ownership of your mistakes, treat those failures as learning tools, and move on. Dwelling on the past is a waste of your time and energy. Instead, make intentional efforts not to repeat the same mistakes again.
  5. Think about others. Examining how your actions will affect others before taking those actions, and putting yourself in their shoes to fully understand the consequences of those actions will increase your ability to form healthy relationships.


Sources used:

Goleman, Daniel. Emotional Intelligence. Bantam Books, 1995.

Turner, Timothy. “Leadership Spotlight: The Need for Emotional Intelligence in Leadership," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, September 2006.