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Correctional Officers – What is Emotional Intelligence?
By Carl ToersBijns, former deputy warden, ASPC Eyman, Florence AZ
Published: 03/17/2014

I have often heard the phrase “I worked with the best of the best” by people stating proudly they worked with good people or leaders while employed as a correctional officer. The truth is these people being referred to by their peers or their co-workers are often individuals that serve in training roles or mentors while executing their own tasks and responsibilities to the best of their ability. Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to identify, assess, and control the emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.

They might in fact be the best at what they do. Certainly they have clearly demonstrated the need to have the unique ability to work alongside of different kinds of people and learned how to understand how other people think and act. Sometimes we learn the hard way that you can be the best there is in the world but if you alienate or rub people the wrong way you are not going to get things done the easy way.

Learning how other people think and act can go a long way in your ability to build a network and rapport with others to manage your own experience and expertise more effectively while getting along with others. Taking the time to learn how other people “tick” is an art well worth learning. It’s not a form of psychology but rather a common sense approach to learn the emotional makeup of those around you.

Everybody has a different way of doing things and their ways are not always wrong if they disagree with your ways. Finding the ability to see through their technique and getting the right kind of feedback allows you to teach more to others while learning more about yourself and those you work with at all levels of the organization. Emotional intelligence gives you the insight to pick your time and place to get things done or to address “sticky” situations that might require a little more tact than other situations.

Basically speaking, emotional intelligence gives you the flexibility to get things do. EQ works best when you have the ability to adapt to different people during different situations and how you interact using your tone and voice volume accordingly and appropriately to develop an effective means to defuse while communicating differences and not become frustrated or taking it too personally.

Last but certainly not least, EQ is a strong quality of leadership – it gives you the opportunity for success for self as well as others. Since EQ gives a person self-control under stressful situations, and the ability to remain calm while assessing the situation, it brings out the best of you and others in what could have been a most chaotic or unwise development or situation.

Wrapping this up identifies EQ as being a person who does not shout at his co-workers or frustrates them beyond their limits. They are individuals that possess characteristics that include, but are not limited to; self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy and social skills. The more that you manage each of these areas, the higher your emotional intelligence will be.

Corrections.com author, Carl ToersBijns, (retired), has worked in corrections for over 25 yrs He held positions of a Correctional Officer I, II, III [Captain] Chief of Security Mental Health Treatment Center – Program Director – Associate Warden - Deputy Warden of Administration & Operations. Carl’s prison philosophy is all about the safety of the public, staff and inmates, "I believe my strongest quality is that I create strategies that are practical, functional and cost effective."

Other articles by ToersBijns:


  1. Mohammed al habahbeh on 03/19/2014:

  2. Mohammed al habahbeh on 03/19/2014:


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