We live in a world where emotional intelligence (EQ) is of more importance than intelligence quotient (IQ)
“Emotions impact everything we do, think and say, and for this reason, a whole set of skills are all enhanced by emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is the ability to recognise and understand emotions in ourselves and others, and our ability to use this AWARENESS to manage our behaviour and relationships.” (Talentsmart)
An interesting thought came to me as I recently read the apostle Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonian Christians. After finishing chapter one it dawned on me that Paul was writing with emotional intelligence. Perhaps it unusually impacted me because Paul’s writing style seemed to contrast with much of what has become the norm for written communication today. Some of the seemingly unwritten laws of writing today include:
- keeping content to a bare minimum (even to one word).
- focusing on the message and ignoring the person to whom we are writing.
- eliminating any emotional intelligence content.
- doing everything in the name of efficiency.
The following are some of Paul’s words that reflect his ability to communicate with emotional intelligence (awareness) to the Thessalonians in chapter one of his first letter.
- We always thank God for all of you….
- We continually mention you in our prayers.
- We remember….your work produced by faith…..
- We remember….your labour prompted by love……
- We remember your endurance inspired by hope….
- For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that He has chosen you……
- ……you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.
- And so you became a model to all the believers…..
- ……your faith in God has become known everywhere.
How much poorer would we be if Paul, for the sake of efficiency, had kept his communication to the Thessalonians to a bare minimum? Instead he wrote with emotional intelligence that was characterised by:
- a detailed awareness of life in the Thessalonian church.
- research that required him to go out of his way to discover the impact the church was having further afield.
- strengths that reflected life in the church.
- a heart of thanksgiving to God for the church.
- his prayer life for the church.
- a heart of love for the church.
In this day of efficient, abbreviated, mass produced communication what can we learn from a father in the faith who wrote with emotional intelligence?
When writing to people :
- remember you are communicating with real people who have a need to be treated with dignity and respect
- thank people for the contribution they are making.
- encourage people in their ongoing involvement.
- add value to people on their journey.
- believe in people and recognise their potential.
- recall previous occasions where people created a valuable memory in your life.
- remember the impact that a timely word can have to inspire a person to greater levels of fruitfulness. (As I write this paper, I have just received an email from a leader who was in my leadership team 35 years ago, thanking me for the impact that I had in her lifetime of ministry.)
- let them know you are praying for them (if you are)
- remember the impact your communication could have on a multiplied number of people. Paul in his final chapter to the Christians in Rome greeted over 30 people with words of encouragement. And he hadn’t been to Rome.
- remember that you have an audience of one who is to be glorified in all you do, even in your writings.
- write with emotional intelligence and with grace.
- remember the great influence for God that you can be in this ministry of communicating with others.
I want to dedicate this paper to my wife Sue who through 41 years of married life has been a Christlike model and mentor to me in how to live a life characterised by excellence in emotional intelligence. For this I am thankful and for this I am a better person, although I am still a work in progress.
So how is your EQ? Does it exceed you IQ? What steps can you take to improve your EQ when you write?
I close with another great example of Paul writing with emotional intelligence.
“I thank God…..as night and day I constantly remember you in my prayers. Recalling your tears, I long to see you, so that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and , I am persuaded, now lives in you also.”
2 Timothy 1:3-5