Emotional Quotient -
In the Pursuit of Health and Happiness
by Judi Chow - Missionary Facilitator
I was recently having lunch with a group of young people after church. During our conversation, one of the young ladies mentioned that she missed a seminar on the Emotional Quotient. She was eager to hear what the others at the table could share with her about the seminar. I realized then that the EQ trend had really become popular among self-helpers and was carrying the Christians as well as Chinese along with it.
Why is there an overwhelming response to EQ? I am just wondering if it is because we Chinese are finally admitting that we are not accustomed to expressing our emotions openly or easily? Our parents were never too verbal or physical in expressing their emotions, therefore, we're never learned to communicate our emotions either. The Emotional Quotient trend has come along promising success, joy, and satisfaction in life if one can score high enough on the quiz. Corporations are paying mega bucks to get their CEOs and managing leaders to attain higher EQs to insure higher success and return for their company. Chinese parents now want their kids to have high EQ as well as IQ. What is this thing called EQ that has been the talk of town?
What is EQ?
Emotional Intelligence or Emotional Quotient is the term used to describe one's ability or competence to relate emotionally. Mayer and Salovey were the pioneer researchers in this area stating that there are four key aspects to emotional intelligence:
1. Emotional identification, perception and expression
2. Emotional facilitation of thinking
3. Emotional understanding
4. Emotional management
Daniel Goleman popularized the EQ phenomena in his book Emotional Intelligence in 1995; he categorized the EQ concept into five components:
5. Social Skills
Basically EQ has to do with our emotional sensitivity, awareness, and management skills, which can help us maximize our long-term health, happiness and success as we relate to others. With this brief understanding of emotional factors, how can EQ affect a person's life, work, and ministry? Research has shown that one of the top problems most of us face involves interpersonal relationships. Conflict often occurs when there is misunderstanding in communication or a lack of it. Sometimes it comes from unspoken or unrealistic expectations in oneself as well as in others. Enough theory for now, let's talk about the practical aspects of EQ and how it can effect our everyday life.
EQ and Everyday Life
I was visiting a seasoned missionary and had the opportunity to work with him for a short period of time. As we visited new immigrants from China, he often asked a simple question expressing his concern for their well-being. I saw people begin talking and crying within minutes while they poured their hearts out to this missionary. I believe this missionary has a high EQ because he was sensitive to the other person's emotional needs. He listened with empathy and allowed the other person to cry or sob without being embarrassed. He might sense his own discomfort when the crying was getting loud, yet he was able to control his own emotional reaction to the situation and to comfort the other person appropriately.
I've also seen how he motivates and encourages his fellow team-mates with trust, respect, acceptance, and love. No doubt, I see joy, success and satisfaction manifested in this missionary's life and ministry. If you were to ask him about the source of his harmonious and joyous state, he would not contribute it to EQ or whatever Q! This man experienced many heartaches, headaches, and brokenness in the past to the point of wanting to leave the field. What motivated him to stay? It was a strong sense of the Lord's calling for him to go into that field in the first place; without the Lord's confirmation to leave, he would feel that he would disobey His calling. It was the hardship of suffering and misunderstanding that produced maturity and a high EQ.
Do we have to go through trial and tribulation to increase our EQ? I sure hope not, because I would hate to tell you the sad stories of those I know personally who are still walking in the valley of the shadow of darkness. Sometimes we cannot resolve all the problems and conflicts we encounter, but we need to learn to accept them, live with them, and make the best of them. We need to remember it takes two to fight and it also takes two to make peace. We can't change the other person, but we can try to change ourselves.
There are some things we can do to increase our EQ, which can, in turn help us improve our inter-personal relationships and help us avoid some of the heartaches and headaches that others experience. If we are in-tune with our emotions, we can either accept ourselves for whom God has made us or try to improve those areas that are tarnished by sin. This ultimately results in a happier and healthier life as we relate to our husbands, wives, sons, daughters, parents, friends, colleagues, and our Creator.
Sharpening Your EQ Tool
Do remember, EQ is only a tool to help us gain inter-personal relationship skills. It is not an end in itself; it is a means to bring glory to God. These skills can be learned by practicing the following:
Talk about feelings and needs: My niece is almost four years old; she will not hesitate for a minute to tell you her feelings. I was baby-sitting one night when my niece woke up in the middle of the night crying, "I really miss my mommy." The next day when all of us were driving in the car, she popped out the words, "I love you, mommy!" I remember the character Sam, in the movie "Ghost" because he was never able to say, "I love you." What he could say was "Ditto." If you are like Sam, try to express your feelings in other ways such as writing a note, sending flowers, or journaling. It will help to prepare you to spit the words out.
Listen with care and acceptance: Listening is a lost art. Some people love to talk and others choose to be in a world of their own. Americans spend numerous hours in therapy just to get someone to listen to them. It is time members of the Christian community extend an arm of acceptance and an ear to listen to the many who need them. If a person feels that someone is listening to him, he would realize that there is someone who do care about him. A better relationship would result from the simple act of genuine listening.
Resolve conflict in love: It is natural and healthy to have conflicts, but how we deal with them can make or break us. Some ignore conflict and pretend it doesn't exist until it mounts to the point of explosion. I don't use a pressure cooker but I know if I don't release the pressure from the pot properly, the pressure can be as dangerous as a time bomb. I know a man whose wife always yelled and put her husband down. One day her husband yelled back, "If you keep this up, I am going to chop you up with a butcher's knife!" I believe he meant it too. All it takes is someone to initiate and start with "I am sorry for..."
Communicate before making decisions concerning others: I've seen this happen with so many couples. The husband invites his friends or colleagues home for dinner without first talking to his wife. He forgets he is not the one doing the preparation, cooking, and cleaning. On that particular day, his wife has a fever, a PTA meeting, and a dental appointment for their daughter. If the husband had called first before inviting his friends, he would realize that this was not a good night for entertaining guests and a big blow-out could have been avoided.
Verbalize your expectations: This might be a bit hard to master. We often don't verbalize our expectations, or they come out sounding like demands from a Sergeant-General. Be aware of your tone of voice. Before verbalizing your expectations, evaluate them first. Ask yourself, is it reasonable, specific, and attainable? Then try to say it in the form of a discussion rather than a demand. Believe me, it will sound sincere and you will be better prepared to express yourself this way.
Include others in both play and work: The secret to success for many Chinese ministers as well as businessmen is hard work and dedication. The Chinese adopted the "one man band" mentality and translated it into the "one foot kick" work ethic. Missionaries starting in the field have to do everything themselves, depend on themselves, and support themselves. I've seen ministries flourish during their years of hard work, but they deteriorated eventually after they left because they did not include others in their work or play. Trust me, play is not sinful and it is not a waste of time. God constituted the Sabbath so we can play, rejuvenate, and relate to others in a more relaxed and informal way.
Give time to yourself and God: We are faced with demands everyday. We often neglect our own physical, emotional, relational, or spiritual needs. Meanwhile, God is lost in the bottom of the stack of important documents. Schedule a time for yourself to reflect and to catch up with the rest of the world and schedule another time for you and God to chat and catch up with each other. You will find this a refreshing, recharging, and most enjoyable time.
Try practicing these skills. You might find your EQ tools are a bit rusty, so focus on one at a time. It will take effort and strength to get the rust off, but it will be worth it in the end. When stress and the demands of life, work, and ministry get tough, it is easy to expect those close to you to understand and somehow magically to know what's going on in your heart and mind without you taking the time to express it. Practice your EQ skills. Try expressing yourself with gentleness and resolve conflicts in love! Give your time to God and create time for yourself. With Godís guidance, you can become a more sensitive emotional communicator.