10 signs of a highly successful person with low emotional intelligence

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You know what’s bizarre but true? Sometimes the most successful people around us aren’t really good at understanding their own emotions or those of others.

They might appear to be on top of their game, making all the right moves… but when it comes to emotional intelligence, they might just be playing an entirely different ball game.

That’s why it’s crucial to take a closer look at these high-fliers and their unique traits. 

We’re not here to judge or put labels on anyone. Instead, we want to understand how different types of people can be successful.

So if you spot any of these signs in a successful person around you, they might just be lacking a bit in the emotional intelligence department.

1. They’re All About Results, Not People

You know what’s a dead giveaway? When someone is super focused on results, achievements, or successes but doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the people around them.

They might be outstanding at reaching their goals and climbing up that career ladder.

But when it comes to understanding their colleagues’ feelings or considering the impact of their actions on others – well, they might just drop the ball.

Remember, it’s not that they’re villains or anything. They’re just more tuned into tasks and outcomes than emotions.

If you’ve ever thought, “Wow, they’re amazing at what they do but don’t seem to ‘get’ people,” you’ve probably spotted someone with high success and low emotional intelligence.

2. They Struggle to Empathize

Another sign to look out for is a lack of empathy.

After all, successful people are often charismatic and great at connecting with others.

But while they can be fantastic at networking and building relationships, they may struggle when it comes to truly understanding and sharing the feelings of others.

So if you find that a person is great at getting what they want but not so good at putting themselves in someone else’s shoes, it’s likely they’re high on success but low on emotional intelligence.

They’re just not wired to naturally ‘feel’ for others – and that’s okay. It’s just one of the many colors on the success spectrum!

3. They Find it Hard to Handle Criticism

A person with low emotional intelligence often has a tough time dealing with criticism, even if it’s constructive.

I had a boss once who was brilliant at his job, no doubt about it. He was efficient, innovative, and had a knack for making astute business decisions.

But when it came to taking feedback or criticism? Oh boy, that was another story.

One day, I gathered up the courage to give him some constructive feedback on how his decisions were affecting the team’s morale.

Instead of taking it on board, he got defensive and brushed it off as if it were irrelevant.

From then on, I realized that his success didn’t necessarily come hand-in-hand with high emotional intelligence.

It was clear that he struggled to accept criticism and use it as a tool for growth and improvement.

This was a real eye-opener for me in understanding that emotional intelligence and success don’t always go together. 

4. They’re Not Great at Recognizing Emotions

Successful people with low emotional intelligence often have difficulty recognizing and understanding their own emotions, let alone those of others.

You’d think that someone who’s done well in life would be in tune with their feelings, but that’s not always the case.

They might be great at making decisions, solving problems, or leading a team, but when it comes to pinpointing what they’re feeling or why they’re feeling it, they might just draw a blank.

So if you notice that someone is successful but often unaware of their emotional state or dismissive of their feelings, there’s a good chance they have low emotional intelligence.

But remember, it doesn’t make them less successful – it just means they navigate the world a little differently. 

5. They Struggle with Emotional Control

Sometimes, people who are incredibly successful yet low in emotional intelligence struggle with managing their emotions.

It’s like a rollercoaster ride. One moment they’re calm and collected, and the next, they’re struggling to keep their feelings under control.

This can be particularly true when they’re under stress or facing a challenging situation.

Why does this matter?

Well, emotions play a huge role in how we interact with the world around us.

If they’re not managed well, it can lead to misunderstandings, strained relationships, and even impact one’s mental health.

So if you know someone who’s successful but often has difficulty controlling their emotions, especially during trying times, they may have low emotional intelligence.

It’s a tough battle for them, but with understanding and support from those around them, these individuals can still thrive in their own unique way.

6. They Often Misread Social Cues

There’s something I’ve noticed over the years: successful people with low emotional intelligence often misinterpret, or completely miss, social cues.

A few years back, I worked with a colleague who was incredibly successful in her field.

She was highly knowledgeable and had an impressive track record of achievements.

However, she often seemed to be on a different wavelength when it came to social interactions.

I remember one team meeting where everyone was subtly hinting that we should take a different approach to a project.

Despite the cues, she completely missed the collective sentiment and pushed ahead with her own ideas.

That’s when it clicked for me – despite her success, she had low emotional intelligence.

It wasn’t that she didn’t care about others’ opinions; she simply struggled to pick up on the unspoken messages in our social interactions.

This realization helped me understand her better and appreciate the diverse ways in which people can excel and succeed.

7. They Have a Limited Emotional Vocabulary

Some successful people with low emotional intelligence have a surprisingly limited emotional vocabulary.

What does this mean? Simply put, they struggle to express their feelings in words.

It’s not that they don’t feel emotions; they just find it hard to articulate these feelings in a way that others can understand.

You might encounter conversations like, “I’m fine,” when they’re clearly not or “I’m just tired,” when something deeper seems to be bothering them.

It’s not that they’re trying to be deceptive; they genuinely struggle to identify and communicate their emotions.

This can be tough, both for them and for the people around them who are trying to understand what they’re going through.

But remember, everyone has their own struggles and this is just one piece of their larger success puzzle.

8. They Tend to Be Stubborn

People with low emotional intelligence can often be quite stubborn.

Why you ask? Well, because they usually have a hard time understanding and valuing the perspectives and feelings of others, they tend to stick to their own viewpoint and resist changing their mind.

So if you’ve ever come across someone who’s incredibly successful but often digs their heels in during discussions or debates, you’ve probably met someone with high success and low emotional intelligence.

It’s not that they’re being difficult on purpose; they’re just wired in a way that makes it hard for them to see things from another person’s perspective.

Remember, stubbornness isn’t necessarily a bad trait – many successful people are stubborn about their goals and dreams. It’s all about understanding and managing these traits effectively. 

9. They Struggle with Emotional Connections

From my own experiences, I’ve noticed that highly successful individuals with low emotional intelligence often find it difficult to form deep, emotional connections with others.

I once had a friend who was incredibly successful in her career. She had a stellar resume, impressive accolades, and a work ethic like no other.

But when it came to personal relationships, she often seemed distant and detached.

At first, I took it personally, thinking that she didn’t value our friendship.

But over time, I realized that it wasn’t about me at all. She was simply not wired to easily form emotional connections.

Once I understood this, our friendship became much easier to navigate.

So if you know someone who’s achieved great success but seems to struggle with forming emotional bonds, they might be low in emotional intelligence.

It’s important to remember that this doesn’t make them bad or uncaring – they just connect with others in a different way.

10. They Avoid Emotional Conversations

Some successful people with low emotional intelligence have a habit of avoiding emotional conversations like the plague.

It’s not that they’re heartless or unfeeling. In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

They might be so overwhelmed by emotions that they prefer to stay in their comfort zone – the logical, practical side of things.

Delving into feelings and emotions can be a confusing and uncomfortable territory for them.

So if you’ve ever tried to have a heartfelt conversation with someone who’s highly successful, only to have them change the subject or gloss over it, they might be low on emotional intelligence.

It’s a tough shell to crack, but with patience and understanding, it’s not impossible.

11. They Can Be Unintentionally Hurtful

Sometimes those with low emotional intelligence can unintentionally hurt others with their words or actions.

They might say something insensitive without realizing its impact or dismiss someone else’s feelings without intending to be hurtful.

It’s not that they aim to cause pain; they simply struggle to understand how their words or actions might make others feel.

So if you’ve ever been on the receiving end of sharp words or insensitive actions from an otherwise successful person, remember, it doesn’t reflect on your worth or value.

It just shows their struggle with emotional understanding. And like all of us, they’re learning and growing in their own way.

Remember, these signs don’t define a person entirely. They’re just parts of a larger picture that makes up who we are and how we navigate our journey to success.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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