Everybody Hurts: Signs Of High And Low Emotional Intelligence

Psychology Today succinctly defines emotional intelligence as “the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others.” The skillset is more challenging than it seems, especially when passion and beliefs are involved. There are certain signs that help indicate where you or those around you fall on the emotional intelligence scale. Some examples include reactivity, mindful thinking, problem-solving, and empathy. Since emotional intelligence plays a major role in the quality of life, it’s paramount to take these signs into consideration. Awareness is the first step towards a more emotionally intelligent way of life.

High: You Take The Time To Pause

pause
Le Minh Phuong/Unsplash
Le Minh Phuong/Unsplash

Many of us have probably heard the phrase “think before you speak.” The suggestion is much easier said than done, especially when you’re flooded with emotion. People who are high on the emotional intelligence scale have the ability to hit the pause button.

Even when you’re tempted to react, having the inner strength to slow down can save a ton of heartache and regret in the long run. Taking a few deep breaths or some needed space can benefit everyone involved. It helps to ensure that temporary emotions don’t give way to permanent decisions.

Low: Your Emotions Get The Best Of You

IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images
IAN KINGTON/AFP via Getty Images

Emotional intelligence isn’t necessarily about controlling your emotions, but rather managing them. Feelings are valid, but that doesn’t mean that they should run your life. People who easily fly off the cuff don’t give themselves the opportunity to decide how they want to treat others.

Instead, their interactions depend solely on how they feel moment to moment. Likewise, someone with low emotional intelligence may find it impossible to get over something. On the contrary, someone who can manage their emotions can sift through the best actions to take. They first recognize what they’re feeling and then decide the best way to proceed.

High: You Know How to Rein In Your Thoughts

Michael Regan/Getty Images
Michael Regan/Getty Images

One key component of not being overtaken by emotion is being able to decide which thoughts are productive and which are destructive. Those who are emotionally intelligent know that the same way emotions can drive thoughts, thoughts can also drive emotions.

They take a moment to analyze their way of thinking to see if there’s any purpose in it. For example, you may find yourself getting riled up as you imagine how you’d respond to someone or something that makes you mad. Someone with emotional intelligence might question if the train of thought serves any purpose and shift it accordingly.

Low: You Struggle To Identify Your Feelings

JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images
JOSE JORDAN/AFP via Getty Images

People with low emotional intelligence may find it difficult or uncomfortable to delve into their feelings. They may have difficulty articulating what they feel, or worse, may not even be aware that emotion is controlling their behavior. For example, you might hold resentment against someone without realizing it, so it seeps out in the form of passive aggression.

Having the self-awareness to know what you’re feeling is key when it comes to emotional intelligence. Once you’ve identified the emotion, then you can start to look at why it’s there and what actions may be wise to take in response.

High: You Learn From Criticism

PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images
PAUL ELLIS/AFP via Getty Images

One clear indicator of emotional intelligence is the ability to take criticism. People who are high on the EQ (emotional quotient) scale don’t have a problem accepting their shortcomings because they don’t feel threatened by not being perfect. Instead, they see it as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Even if the criticism isn’t offered in the best way or is unsolicited, it doesn’t have to be debilitating. Rather, it can be something worth considering. If it does elicit an emotional response, that’s something to delve further into or talk through with someone you trust.

Low: You Struggle To Problem Solve

Fox Photos/Getty Images
Fox Photos/Getty Images

When emotions takeover, logic can go right out the window and problem-solving capabilities go with it. People with low emotional intelligence may be so overcome by a challenge they face that they can’t conceive of a way out of it.

Perhaps you find it impossible to come to a compromise with your significant other because your emotions have you deadlocked on something. Maybe there’s a problem at work that you are struggling to solve because of the growing sense of despair. Emotionally intelligent people are more apt to work through issues because they don’t allow their biggest obstacle to be themselves.

High: You Commend Others

James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images
James Baylis – AMA/Getty Images

Someone who is emotionally intelligent has enough self-assurance to be able to acknowledge the good in others without feeling inferior. They don’t just focus on the negative, but also look at the positive attributes of others.

Emotional intelligence isn’t just about personal awareness, but also understanding others. Someone with a high EQ knows that we all crave acknowledgment and that genuinely offering it to others strengthens relationships. Seeing the good in others also helps build trust so that when it is time to point out criticism, it’s less likely to be taken the wrong way.

Low: You Unknowingly Offend Others

Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images
Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

As we’ve mentioned, emotional intelligence isn’t just about self-awareness but also being attuned to others. Those who are low on the EQ scale may feel like they’re constantly being perceived as offensive and they have no idea why.

If someone takes something the wrong way, it may be a simple matter of misunderstanding. However, if this happens again and again in different settings and around numerous individuals, it’s possible that the problem is internal, not external. As they say, “Everywhere you go, there you are.”

High: You Offer Genuine Apologies

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Adam Pretty/Getty Images
Adam Pretty/Getty Images

Sometimes the people who lack confidence are the ones who come off the most prideful. It isn’t easy to own up to poor behavior or acknowledge the damage you’ve done. However, those who are high on the EQ scale see beyond themselves and appreciate the humbling experience.

Rather than feel that they need to defend everything they do, emotionally intelligent individuals own up to their mistakes. Furthermore, they aren’t so consumed in their point of view that they can’t acknowledge the way others feel.

Low: You Struggle To See Other People’s Perspectives

upset
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash
Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

As we mentioned with apologies, being able to own up to your negative impact requires stepping into someone else’s shoes. Those who are not very emotionally intelligent have a hard time doing so. This is where the phrase “the world doesn’t revolve around you” comes from.

Being able to genuinely feel how the other person feels requires empathy. Those who are low on the EQ scale are too wrapped up in their own emotions to have the capacity to consider others. They demand understanding despite being incapable of giving it.

High: You Help Others

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

People who have high emotional intelligence are more inclined to help others because they can genuinely feel for those in need. They also understand that kind acts build trust and benefit both the giver and the receiver emotionally.

Especially if you’ve been feeling down lately, helping others can be a great way to get out of your headspace and put your situation into perspective. Those who have low EQ are more apt to find excuses not to be of service to others.

Low: You Have Difficulty Reading People

Nick Ut-Pool/Getty Images
Nick Ut-Pool/Getty Images

Someone with a lower EQ might fail to notice emotional responses in others or misread them altogether. For instance, they may think that their partner is upset with them, unaware that they’re really just projecting insecurity. Or they might be overreacting about a mistake and not notice how much they’re hurting someone’s feelings.

Emotionally intelligent people are so attuned to their own emotions that it’s easier to recognize those feelings in others. They frequently think about their emotional impact on those they interact with. Thus, they have practiced deciphering others or at least showing that they care.

High: Offer Constructive Feedback

Will Ireland/Edge Magazine/Future via Getty Images
Will Ireland/Edge Magazine/Future via Getty Images

Emotionally intelligent people not only can take criticism, but they are also able to give it in a healthy way. Instead of constantly coming down on people, they balance positive and negative feedback and communicate effectively.

Someone with a low EQ would struggle to realize how they come off or might not be as aware of how their biases impact their evaluation of someone or something. A more emotionally intelligent individual can sort through what really matters. They come from a place of wanting to build someone up with their criticism, not tear them down.

Low: You Struggle To Assert Yourself

ELSIE ZHONG/Unsplash
ELSIE ZHONG/Unsplash

Being emotionally intelligent doesn’t mean being a doormat. One sneaky sign of a low EQ is the inability to exercise assertiveness when necessary. Though empathy and kindness are wonderful traits, they require a balance of strength and boundaries to create a healthy emotional environment.

Someone who shies away from their needs for the sake of avoiding conflict becomes their own worst enemy. Those with high emotional intelligence are able to keep their emotions in check while still honoring their capacities. Rather than giving into difficult people, they neutralize the situation by standing up for themselves and setting boundaries.

High: You Forgive And Let Go

Guillaume de Germain/Unsplash
Guillaume de Germain/Unsplash

The phrase “forgive and forget” comes under some scrutiny because it implies that you don’t learn from the situation. Still, it is important to let go of resentment to calm the internal storm. Emotionally intelligent people understand that holding on to negative emotions only makes you suffer, not the other person.

Those with lower EQs may think that refusing to forgive is a sign of strength. In actuality, it’s a defense mechanism that elongates the issue. Forgiving doesn’t mean allowing the behavior to persist. It just means allowing compassion to move you forward and trusting boundaries to keep you safe.

Low: You Take Misunderstandings Personally

Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

People who have less emotional intelligence have a harder time accepting that others don’t always understand them. They may think that their way of communicating is the way, and thus take misunderstandings as being fueled by the other person’s animosity.

Though not grasping what someone is saying and vise versa can be frustrating, it’s not always a sign of disregard. Emotionally intelligent people understand that they don’t always come off perfectly. When misunderstandings occur, they try a different approach. They pay attention to what the other person is saying without jumping on the defense.

High: You Learn But Don’t Dwell

FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images
FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images

When an emotionally intelligent individual makes a mistake, they hold on to it enough to adjust the behavior, but not enough to dwell on it. It’s a fine balance between transforming an error and letting it consume you emotionally.

People with lower EQs may find themselves easily overcome by feelings of worthlessness as soon as they mess up. One mistake can turn into a self-loathing narrative. Those who are more emotionally intelligent keep themselves in check by not jumping to conclusions. They strive to be better while showing themselves compassion and moving on.

Low: You’re Easily Offended

FOX Image Collection via Getty Images
FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

People with lower emotional intelligence are more susceptible to being easily offended. They may have lower confidence and thus can be set off by anything that they perceive as questioning their character. Furthermore, they have a harder time understanding others and can thus take things the wrong way.

Those with high EQs have a firm grip on who they are and can therefore remain open-minded without becoming defensive. While they are sensitive to others so as not to offend, they aren’t thrown off when someone pokes fun. Instead, they consider if it’s truly degrading and respond accordingly.

High: You Stick To Your Commitments

Estée Janssens/Unsplash
Estée Janssens/Unsplash

Emotionally intelligent people understand that keeping their word is a major part of building trust. They do their best to follow through on commitments because they understand how flakiness can send a message of not caring. When they can’t follow through on something, they empathize with the other party and make it up to them out of consideration.

Those who have lower EQs are oblivious to how others may perceive their actions. So long as they can rationalize breaking commitments, they see it as harmless. They may even become upset if someone expresses discontent over their absence or if reasonable consequences ensue.

Low: You Mask Your Feelings

Julian Finney/Getty Images
Julian Finney/Getty Images

People with lower emotional intelligence may feel pressure to put up a front. If a situation makes them uncomfortable, they put on a happy face and ignore their inner voice. Though you don’t want to throw a tantrum at a work meeting, you also don’t need to pretend everything’s fine if it isn’t.

Emotional intelligence isn’t about changing your emotions to suit other people’s needs. Those with high EQs express themselves genuinely but do so in a mindful way. Rather than defaulting to whatever behavior comes naturally, they modify their reactions appropriately without denying their inner truth.