Emotional Effectiveness - In Practice
Today I’m going to let two participants on the Personal Effectiveness Project speak for themselves. I’ll offer some brief reflections at the end and then follow up shortly with another post dealing with some of the theory of Emotional Intelligence.
The two participants are:
• Alex, who works with Sam.
• Martin, who is married to Jules.
There is no Alex on the Personal Effectiveness Project. At his or her request I have anonymised his or her name and Sam’s. I am quite clear on which gender(s) they are, but in the slightly-taking-it-too-far interests of anonymity I have decided to toss a coin to decide, for the purposes of this blog post. Here goes … heads for male, tails for women … tails. OK, Alex is female and so is Sam.
Here goes, speaking with their own voices:
My commitment: every time Sam complains about something I will respond to her using encouraging rather than negative words.
What was happening before? I was finding that I was getting very frustrated with Sam, either speaking to her in a harsh way and without much compassion, or alternatively not speaking to her at all. Because I had this response, I was much more easily being drawn into the general negative attitude to Sam that exists at work rather than standing out from the crowd by responding to her in a way that was different and Christ-like. When someone would complain to me about Sam, I found that I was agreeing with them which was effectively undermining her behind her back.
How has it been going? I have this difficult to stick to. I would say that I have managed it about 50% of the time. What I learnt from the first PEP session was that the key thing is not whether I have stuck to my commitment everyday but whether I have begun to make a change which given time can become a new habit. So I don’t feel too frustrated that I haven’t kept to it more.
What’s the spiritual angle? This one has definitely had spiritual benefits for me. Throughout my working life I have found it a constant challenge to be the same person at work as I am, say, in church; to take the same levels of faith that I have in church on a Sunday into the office on a Monday; for my actions and emotional responses to be the same in the heat of a manic day at work as it is when I’m, for example, in a prayer meeting. I suppose that could all be summarised as I’ve always found it a challenge to live in a consistent Christ-like way in my work environment. I believe that when I have been able to stick to my commitment I have been responding in the way that I think Jesus would respond to Sam and that therefore my actions and emotions are more in-line with my beliefs and I feel that, in a small way, I am achieving that greater consistency that I desire. Another benefit is that, generally in life, I find that the times I am living with more consistency are the times when I feel like I have my best relationship with God and have a more solid base for things such as prophecy etc to flow and also to feel greater joy in life. Just typing this is a great encouragement to me as I can see that after years of working and not seeing much, if any, fruit that there is the hope and real possibility of being a powerful agent for change at work. I think that over those years I had to a certain extent lost the belief that I could influence things by the way I act at work.
This is awesome stuff! It shouldn’t surprise us - should it? - that living in a more Jesus-like way benefits us emotionally and spiritually!
My commitment: “As a youth worker I’m very much a people person and having been in the emotional crucible that is marriage for 4 years I should be pretty advanced in engaging with someone else’s emotions, although I wouldn’t dare to claim to be an expert and so I challenged myself to take special note of how my wife is feeling and to make a deliberate and positive response, be it talking together, taking action of some kind, or simply praying.”
How’s it going? On a scale of 1-10: 7/10. Being more intentional in observing how my wife is feeling has been good, partly because we’re both relaxed and easy going, so it can be easy to breeze along without thinking too much about what might be happening at a deeper level.
What’s the spiritual angle? For those of us seeking to follow Jesus as a model, we don’t have to look too far in the gospels to see many examples of a man very in touch with his own emotions and very free in expressing them, a whole range of them; love, sadness, disappointment, joy, compassion, anger! But we see too in Christ that awareness and focus on the inner thoughts and feelings of those around him, friends, enemies and even strangers. In John’s gospel, we find this statement: ‘But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.’
Good going! God knows what is in us, and that includes our emotions, which he wants to function at full capacity.
Let’s replay one of Alex’s sentences:
Just typing this is a great encouragement to me as I can see that after years of working and not seeing much, if any, fruit that there is the hope and real possibility of being a powerful agent for change at work.
This is significant because many non-Christian approaches to emotional intelligence position spirituality as something separate from the physical, emotional and mental aspects of our beings. We will think about this more in future posts. I am passionate about reclaiming the word spirituality. God is Spirit. The body of a Christian is a temple of the Holy Spirit (1Cor 6:19). So is the church (1Cor 3:16). We are spiritual people and our emotions are part of that. Let the word ‘spiritual’ not come to mean non-Christian. And let our emotions not become dislocated from our spiritual walk. Well done Alex, Martin and other PEP participants. Roll on the next evening!