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Emotional Intelligence: How Emotional Expression Can Make or Break a Relationship


Healthcare professionals Mike Nelson,DHSc, DMSc, PA-C, and Mace Hamblin, DHSc, MPA, HWC discuss the importance of emotional intelligence and its role in how people express themselves.

Emotional intelligence, in its simplest definition is “our ability to communicate feelings both verbally and nonverbally,” said Nelson.

Nelson explained that they are focusing on “how emotional intelligence is expressed and how that expression leads to changes in circumstances and conversations, as well as to eventual positive outcomes.” 

Hamblin adds that “emotional intelligence is a skill that is developed on an individual basis. We all have it. It’s not that anybody does not have any ability to express themselves. It’s maybe that some don’t use that ability as much as they could, and so developing the skill is more about learning how and when to use it versus acquiring the skill.” 

They went on to discuss the importance of using this skill to communicate without words because of what is called the 55-38-7 rule. “7% of communication is received through words; 38% is received by our tone, our pace, and the volume of our voice; and then 55% is received based through our body language,” said Hamblin. 

Knowing the 55-38-7 rule allows for a broader understanding of everyone’s point of view and the importance of recognizing that most people have a valid perspective because it is built on their personal experiences. 

“Have you ever heard that everyone has a valid argument?” asked Nelson. “It’s because their view is based on where they come from, their history, their background. Their interpretation of things is 100% valid to them.” 

Nelson and Hambin also discussed both aggression and passivity as they apply to assertiveness, as well as the skills society expects people to learn. 

“A lot of time we label assertiveness as aggression,” said Hamblin. “But when you think about it as a scale where on one end is passive and the other end aggressive, the middle is where assertiveness can be found. That’s the normal point, but it’s not normal for most of us. So we’re trying to find that middle ground between passive–where you’re not speaking up, and aggressive–where you’re overdoing it and making enemies. 

Nelson also brought up the advanced emotional intelligence skill of passive assertiveness. “I’ve been toying with this term “passive assertiveness” for a few months now. It’s an advanced emotional intelligence tool because it can be hard to do it correctly. However, it can change a lot of circumstances as well as a lot of outcomes for the good. In essence, it is helping others come to the same conclusions on their own. This aligns team members’ perspectives to achieve attainable goals.” 

At Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Nelson is the Program Director for the Master of Science in Physician Assistant Studies and Interim Dean of the College of Medical and Professional Sciences, and Hamblin is an associate professor in the Doctor of Medical Science program.

To learn more about emotional intelligence, listen to the entire podcast episode here