When someone has low emotional intelligence (EQ), it means they lack the ability to understand and manage emotions—both theirs and that of others.
Naturally, this makes it quite difficult for them to maintain good relationships.
It’s not that they’re bad people. They just need to learn more about emotions and how to handle them better.
Wondering if you or someone you know has low EQ?
Here are some behaviors that are tell-tale signs one has low emotional intelligence.
1) Exaggerated sense of self-worth
People with low EQ have the tendency to focus on how others act towards them. It’s like they’re always sizing up whether people are good to them or not.
They won’t be too bothered about how others are actually doing. Nevermind if the people they’re with are actually stressed or depressed…what matters is how they treat them.
When someone doesn’t exclaim a cheerful “hello” when they arrive, they won’t wonder “Are they okay? They seem sad.” All they can see is how they’re being “disrespected” and treated like they don’t matter.
And if they notice any sign that they’re not being “valued” enough, they distance themselves right away because they know they deserve better.
It’s definitely hard to be sensitive to other people’s emotions when one is too focused on themselves.
2) Invalidating others
Whether it’s just a playful argument on something trivial or a more intense confrontation, you rarely hear someone with low EQ say “Ah yeah, you’re right.” It’s always “No way!” or “It’s not my fault.”
This is especially the case when it comes to confrontations regarding relationships.
If you tell them honestly that you got hurt when they joked about your dead dog, they would say, “Oh, but that’s just a joke!”
They’d never say “Oh geez. I was a bit of an asshole for doing that. It won’t happen again. Sorry.”
They feel that acknowledging that they did offend others makes them seem like the bad guy…and they don’t want to be the bad guy—ever.
3) Feeling like everyone’s against them
People with low EQ constantly feel like they’re victims.
It’s as if NO ONE understands them and that EVERYONE is trying to gang up on them.
They like to say “all the time”, “never”, and “always”.
You can hear them say “Well, it’s okay. Everyone treats me like garbage all the time anyway.” or “I must really be awful. I’ve never heard anyone thank me for what I do.”
This is rooted from one’s insecurities and trauma. And if they truly want to change for the better, they must be able to identify when it’s just their insecurities and trauma talking.
That way, instead of being offended by others, they’ll be able to calm themselves down.
4) Blaming others for their reactions
“I wish you didn’t do that. Then I wouldn’t have snapped at you.”
“Why did you look at me that way? I screamed because I felt you’re staring at me like I’m some kind of criminal!”
People with low emotional intelligence always forget that we are fully in charge of our emotions. They blame others as if they have no control over their actions.
They don’t seem to grasp the fact that how they react to something is 100% their responsibility. And hey, if they can’t control it, they should just own it, and not blame others for it.
5) Inability to regulate emotions
Outbursts, overdramatic meltdowns, slamming, screaming fits…you name it.
People with low EQ have a tendency to freak out with every little inconvenience.
Most of the time, it’s because they find it really hard to manage their emotions. They get carried away and they feel they have no choice but to explode.
But sometimes, it’s also because they want to manipulate and show dominance. So instead of having clear communication, they use their emotions as a strategy to make others feel bad.
People with low EQ find it extremely hard to communicate—especially if they’re hurt or offended.
If they get hurt by what you’ve said or done, they won’t tell you directly. Instead, they’d drop as many hints as possible that something’s not right.
If you don’t get their message, they might even publish passive-aggressive rants on social media.
For some reason, they find it pleasurable when people chase them and ask them “Hey, are you mad at me?” or “Hey, did I do something wrong?”
An honest, one-on-one talk could have solved things in just a few minutes, but they simply don’t have the skill to communicate.
7) Being blind to one’s flaws
To the person with low EQ, everyone’s bad and mean and selfish. But not them. They’re actually very kind and understanding, according to them.
They wouldn’t take a hard look at themselves and examine their flaws and mistakes.
They simply don’t find the need to. The thought that they could have shortcomings and flaws doesn’t cross their mind—at all.
In other words, they lack self-awareness.
They wouldn’t go “Okay, they’re annoying… but what about me? What are my flaws? What’s my part in this fight?”
They’re very sure they have no mistakes and misgivings. What’s funny is that most likely, they’re also very sure they don’t have low EQ.
8) Avoiding confrontation
People with low EQe hate sit-down conversations where you discuss openly about each other’s emotions and try to resolve conflict.
If you’ve wronged them, they’d rather ditch you than give you a chance to explain yourself.
They’d rather burn bridges than deal with “drama”.
This is the reason why their relationships are always in turmoil and why they’re always jumping from one relationship to another.
A person with low EQ sees conflicts as deadends. A person with high EQ sees conflicts as opportunities to strengthen a relationship and grow deeper as a person.
9) Expecting others to understand their moods
Somehow, people with low EQ expect a lot from others.
If they lash out in anger or not show up for a date because they’re feeling blue, they expect everyone around them to understand.
It’s as if having a bad mood entitles them to act as badly as they want, and that people should give them a bottomless supply of understanding.
It’s hard for people with low EQ to become accountable for their choices and their emotions. This drains others because they always feel they have to be the “bigger person”.
10) Inability to sense what others are feeling
Someone with high EQ can determine what a person is really feeling by observing their actions, tone of voice, and facial expressions.
Even if someone says “I’m happy”, if their body language and voice betray them, a person with high EQ can sense they’re just lying.
On the other hand, someone with low EQ doesn’t pay too much attention to these things. They’d rather that someone tells them directly what they’re feeling because it’s really difficult for them to decode signals.
This doesn’t mean they’re heartless. Some people on the autism spectrum, for example, find it hard to read people. Does this make them bad? Not at all.
It just means they need to learn about emotions a bit more.
11) Blaming others for poor communication skills
What’s funny is that, most of the time, people with low EQ are the ones with poor communication skills. And yet, they find a way to blame others for it.
When they feel like their friend is ignoring them all of a sudden, for example, they won’t confront them directly to ask if everything’s okay. Instead, they will sulk and ignore them with much more intensity.
When asked why they didn’t confront them when they felt ignored, they’d say, “But you’re the one who has a problem with me…that’s why you ignored me. Why didn’t YOU communicate with me if you have a problem with me?!”
And if you try to explain that you’re not actually mad at them, they’d lash out and have a full-blown meltdown.
12) Inability to apologize sincerely
People with low EQ see asking for an apology as a form of weakness.
It’s like agreeing that they’re the ones who are wrong and flawed and immature. Hell, they’ll never do that.
People with high EQ would see no problem saying sorry. In fact, to them, it’s not even who’s right or wrong anymore, or who’s mature or immature.
They know that ultimately, no one is to blame—they all have flaws—and both are wounded by their conflict. So to a person with high EQ, it’s only necessary that they both say sorry and move on.
So watch out. If a person would rather die than say sorry, then they clearly have low EQ.
Emotional intelligence is just like any form of intelligence—it can be learned.
So if you or someone you know exhibit most of the behaviors listed in this article, don’t worry. Just like driving and swimming, anyone can very much improve their EQ!
They just need some guidance (and probably some therapy) and pretty soon, they’ll be able to navigate their emotions and relationships better.
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