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If you had a quarter for every mention of emotional intelligence in the business world, well, you’d have a lot of quarters! This episode of Faithful on the Clock talks about how emotional intelligence and love connect and why understanding their similarities and differences influences your entire approach to work.
[00:31] - Definition of emotional intelligence (EQ)
[01:28] - How EQ relates to relationships and success in the business context
[02:32] - One of the negative aspects of how we focus on EQ is that it’s very scientific, which makes it harder to connect it to love and God.
[03:17] - The steps with EQ and love are essentially the same.
[04:01] - The key difference between EQ and love, if there is one, is in connotation. EQ is more egocentric and inward-focused, whereas love is more sacrificial and outward-focused in service.
[05:28] - Acknowledging the connotation difference is important because being forced to operate only in the context of EQ rather than love can lead to code-switching and inauthenticity.
[06:17] - We need to think about ways to bridge the gap between EQ and love.
[07:08] - There are many ways to be loving, as Daniel Goleman outlines with the 5 love languages. When professionals talk about good EQ, they really mean communicating well in those languages. Be mindful of your language and the language of others.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to pay attention to how you or others feel or think and then respond appropriately. It is multifaceted, involving past, present, and future orientations.
Good EQ can positively influence relationships, and subsequently, careers and companies. This is the theme across many articles, books, and other sources.
The scientific view of EQ that’s so prevalent today can rob us of seeing it as being synonymous with love and God. But the steps in EQ and love are virtually the same.
If there is any distinction between EQ and love, it is that the connotation of EQ is more egocentric. Love looks outward and is service-based.
In many business circles, it’s OK to talk about EQ but not love, which is unfair and which forces us to be less authentic as Christians.
There are many ways to show love in different languages, as outlined by Daniel Goleman. Be mindful of the language you have, as well as the languages others prefer.
See if you can find ways to pivot discussions of EQ back to love and the second commandment.
When you find yourself in tricky interpersonal situations, ask yourself if you are working to resolve things for yourself or for others. Seek to be a servant rather than to gain.
What’s coming up next:
We’re called to be loving, as God is. But doing that at work can be tricky business. In Episode 55 of Faithful on the Clock, we’ll explore what makes compassion at work so hard and present some tips on how to be more loving despite the hurdles.
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Hey, y’all. Welcome back to the Faithful on the Clock podcast, where everything is designed to get your faith and work aligned. I’m your host, Wanda Thibodeaux, and the show today is about love versus emotional intelligence. What have we gotten confused about with these two elements, and how can we get back on the right track? Let’s straighten it out in these next few minutes, shall we?
All right. The first thing I wanna do is just acknowledge what emotional intelligence is and why it’s like, a thing with professionals today. You might hear it sometimes referred to as emotional quotient or EQ, as well, but don’t worry, they’re both the same thing, OK? So I might use those terms interchangeably throughout the show. But emotional intelligence as defined by yours truly is just the ability not only to pay attention to how you or others feel or think, but then also to act on that well. So, for example, if I notice that I’m feeling angry or maybe depressed, then what is the appropriate response to that? And what I want to point out here is that this involves past experience, being in the moment, and the future. Because you’re drawing on what you know to interpret what’s going on, but then you’re enough in the present to pay attention and have awareness, and then you consider what to do next. So it’s multifaceted in that way.
Now, one of the reasons professionals are obsessing about emotional intelligence is that they know that good EQ has a positive influence on your ability to form relationships. And people want good relationships in the business context because relationships mean you have good support and stability to do whatever it is you need to do for your career or organization. You know, it relates directly to your ability to get ahead competitively in that way. So there’s this huge push right now to find any way possible to improve your EQ and, subsequently, improve your chances of being successful. And you’ll see this in company newsletters or books all the time. For instance, just to throw out some titles as examples, there’s Go Suck a Lemon: Strategies for Improving Your Emotional Intelligence, by Michael Cornwall. There’s The Language of Emotional Intelligence: The Five Essential Tools for Building Powerful and Effective Relationships by Jean Segal and Jaelline Jaffey. And then you’ve got Building Emotional Intelligence by Linda Lantieri and Daniel Goleman.
So I am not going to say that building your emotional intelligence is a bad thing, per se. And there are plenty of strategies you can look up on, you know, how to improve it. But one of the negative things I think that’s emerging from this stance we have on EQ is that it’s very, kinda, scientific. Like, we have all this discussion about it from the neurological perspective, and there are books that focus just on that, on what goes on in the brain with EQ. And what happens with this approach is that, at least in my view, it makes it almost impossible to see EQ as being synonymous not only with love, but with God. And don’t mistake me here, because I absolutely see God as being the Great Scientist. I’m not saying science is bad at all.
But let me kind of tease out what I mean. So arguably, when you are loving to someone, what do you do? Well, you pay attention to them, right? Like, if somebody’s bawling their eyes out in front of you, you notice that. And then you usually have some empathy. You relate to the feelings the person is having and you try to cognitively understand where they’re coming from. And lastly, you take all of what you and that other person are feeling and thinking and you ask yourself, “OK, how can I take care of myself or this other person? How can I protect them and make them feel valued and safe?” So I don’t know about you, but to me, emotional intelligence and being loving, they sound a lot alike. You know, the steps you go through with EQ and the steps you go through in love, they’re not really all that different.
But if you insist on drawing a distinction between EQ and love, here’s what I think it boils down to just in terms of connotation. With EQ, I think the focus is still pretty egocentric or inward-focused. You know, yes, you’re reading the room and all that, but you improve it to kind of put a stamp on your own success or reduce friction in your own life. But the intentionality behind love is different. Love always looks outward. And it really does ask the question of how much you will serve or sacrifice. I mean, 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 talks about all of the characteristics of love. You know, it’s patient, it’s kind, it protects. And Jesus, He was very clear that love went hand in hand with humility. And then, of course, you have John 3:16, which reminds us that God so loved the world that He gave up His only son for us. And all of that, it’s a big change in attitude. I mean, you can come into work saying, “OK, I’m gonna read the room and see what I personally can get out of this and, you know, just keep conflicts at bay,” OR you can come into work saying, “Who can I help today? How can I lift up the people around me and meet the needs they have?” And that really does change how you approach people or the tasks you’ve got so you feel more satisfied in the work and you don’t get discouraged.
And all of this matters because I think in a lot of business circles today, it’s OK to talk about EQ, but it’s not OK to tell your coworker, you know, “Hey, I want to be more loving to you today.” It’s acceptable to talk about improving relationships and the bottom line, but it’s somehow not OK to talk about how we’re called by God to be compassionate. Because we’re in this tough spot where, at least in the United States, talking about religion at work still can be off limits, or talking about loving others, I don’t think we wanna do that because we’re afraid of coming off as unprofessional. And I think that’s true even as we say authenticity and honesty are OK. There’s just something about it where we say we want to be open, but then we just draw a line. Do you know what I mean?
But what I want you to think about is finding a way to bridge that gap. How can we take all of this discussion around EQ, and maybe not ignore the science around it, but just kind of reconnect it back to the Christian lifestyle and why being loving is an honor to God. Because remember, this show is all about resolving the conflict between our faith and our jobs. And if everybody’s shoving books and whatnot about EQ in your face, if your boss is telling you, “Hey, this seminar on EQ is mandatory!” or whatever, but you then can’t have a deeper discussion about the ethics and morality that’s involved with being loving, then to me, that’s just really unfair. And it puts you in this position where you kind of have to code switch and, ironically, not be as authentic as you want to be.
So to just quickly wrap up, I’ll just end by pointing out that there are many different ways to be loving. You might have heard about the five love languages outlined by Daniel Goleman, but they’re words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, time, and touch. And when leaders talk about demonstrating EQ, what they’re really talking about is communicating in those languages effectively. And some of that is being able to say, OK, well, Jane from accounting, she prefers me to do something for her, whereas John from sales, he’s all about the kudos I verbally give him. But we also need to be aware of what our own default or most natural love language is, because it might not always feel natural to set that aside and use a different love language to get through to someone. So I’ll just encourage you to think about what you respond to and to have discussions with your coworkers about their own tendencies. And as you do that, remember, God designs all of us just as He wants us to be. So your language, you’ve got that for a reason, OK? Don’t ever be embarrassed about it. Just make sure that you’re doing your best to take care of yourself and your neighbor.
To close the episode, would you take a moment to pray with me?
God, you know just how much everybody loves the idea of hacks, and how we’ve extended that to improving our emotional intelligence. But let’s not forget in that that the essentials around EQ, at the heart, they’re all just coming back to you and your command to be loving. Turn our view on it all outward into service and erase all the awkwardness there might be about calling love exactly what it is. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.
That’s all I’ve got for today, people. On the next episode, I’m really excited about this, we’ll be covering why work is the hardest place to be loving. And just a reminder, since we’re biweekly now, that’s coming out not this coming Monday, but the following Monday after that. You can pass the time until then by getting involved with our Challenge Me Monday group. Every week on Monday, I post a fun scripture-based challenge for everybody, and then we have some discussion questions to help you reflect and get deeper into the Word through the week. You can learn more about that by checking out the pinned tweet on our Twitter page, @FaithfulOTC. Have a wonderful two weeks, everybody, and until next time, be blessed.
Faithful on the Clock is a podcast dedicated to ensuring your faith and work align. You won’t find mantras or hacks here--just scripture-based insights to help you grow yourself, your company, and your relationship with God. If you want out of the worldly hamster wheel and want to work with purpose, then this is the show for you. Hosted by freelance business writer Wanda Thibodeaux.
Wanda Marie Thibodeaux is a freelance writer based in Eagan, MN. Since 2006, she has worked with a full range of clients to create website landing pages, product descriptions, articles, professional letters, and other content. She also served as a daily columnist at Inc.com for three years, where she specialized in content on business leadership, psychology, neuroscience, and behavior.
Currently, Thibodeaux accepts clients through her website, Takingdictation.com. She is especially interested in motivational psychology, self-development, and mental health.