10 habits that reveal more about your emotional intelligence than you think

There are plenty of ways to be smart. But if we really want to get on in this world, nothing is quite as valuable as being emotionally smart.

Your emotional intelligence dictates how well you can understand and manage your own emotions, as well as how you perceive and respond to the emotions of others.

So it’s no surprise that it plays a significant role in our personal and professional relationships, influencing our communication skills, empathy, and decision-making abilities.

But many of the crucial ways it filters into our lives can go unnoticed. That’s why the following habits reveal more about your emotional intelligence than you think.

1) Being able to say what’s on your mind

Healthy self-expression relies on our emotional maturity and intelligence.

That goes for both sharing our feelings and thoughts with others, as well as expressing our opinions and problems.

It’s not always easy navigating our own feelings, that’s for sure.

But emotional intelligence arms you with the tools to better understand the root of your emotions, which then makes it easier for you to voice them too. 

Without emotional intelligence, the vulnerability of self-expression can seem too daunting, tempting us to try to keep a lid on how we feel.

2) Getting instant gut reactions

This is actually a subtle yet powerful form of perception.

Your intuition about people and situations runs deeper than you think.

People with better emotional intelligence are more switched on to the signals that are being given out. Meanwhile, those lacking in it remain oblivious.

Tone of voice, micro facial expressions, bodylanguage — all of these cues paint a picture of someone.

That becomes so valuable in honing your social awareness.

It allows you to:

  • Pay closer attention to non-verbal cues
  • Be mindful of the emotional atmosphere in a room
  • Understand the dynamics of different social situations
  • Adapt your behavior to suit the needs of others.

3) How well you can motivate yourself

It’s not something we automatically link to levels of emotional intelligence.

Motivation is often thought of as an energy thing. We can imagine that it depends on your personality type or mindset.

Whilst that’s true, our EQ can greatly impact it.

Learning, problem-solving, and decision-making are a few of the areas where your emotional intelligence has a knock-on effect on your approach.

That’s why emotionally intelligent people are more driven by personal goals and ambitions.

The awareness they cultivate gives them a stronger desire for self-improvement.

Crucially, their ability to manage their emotions and behaviors helps them to maintain a positive attitude and resilience in the face of obstacles.

4) How effectively you listen

How well we listen to people sends them signals about how interested we are in them.

We might not think it’s a big deal that we’re simultaneously on our phones whilst someone is trying to tell us something. But it really is.

We may not realize we’re subconsciously scanning the room whilst they’re busy talking to us. But you can be sure that they certainly do.

I once took a step back from a friend because her lack of presence whenever we spoke became intolerable.

I’d strive to give her my full attention whenever she had a problem or issue she wanted to hash out. Not only giving my undivided attention but trying to ask thoughtful questions.

But this wasn’t recipricated.

Of course, it’s not that she was a bad person, she just lacked the emotional intelligence to see what was going on.

People with very high EQ are much better at actively listening, which involves a lot more than just keeping quiet and letting someone speak.

That means they naturally do things like:

  • Maintain eye contact
  • Provide verbal and non-verbal cues to show attentiveness
  • Nod their head to show understanding
  • Use their facial expressions to convey empathy

5) Not taking any sh*t

If you think that emotional intelligence is all about being soft and gentle, you’re wrong.

It isn’t something that leaves you super sensitive and at the mercy of others.

Quite the opposite. It is the root of strength too.

All clear and firm boundaries demand a high degree of emotional intelligence.

There’s a big difference between playing the badass and genuinely being one.

Those with emotional intelligence know how to put their needs and wants first. They have the awareness to see what is good for them and what isn’t.

That means they say no without guilt or fuss. It means they walk away from people who are trying to take advantage.

6) Saying sorry and meaning it

Holding your hands up and saying “My bad” takes guts.

It’s not always comfortable or easy to acknowledge our mistakes.

It’s easy to take a defensive stance, where we blindly back ourselves, regardless of whether we’re right or not.

But emotional intelligence involves the self-awareness to help us:

  • Recognize and understand our own failings and flaws
  • Reflect on our feelings and thoughts to gain insight into our emotional state and also imagine how others feel
  • Accept feedback from trusted individuals to gain a better understanding of how others perceive us.

It also does something else significant:

It lets us put our ego aside and recognize that being right isn’t always worth bulldozing over other people’s feelings for.

7) Saying thank you and meaning it

When you’re wrapped up in your own little world, it’s easy to overlook people around you.

But when you are tuned in, you notice what is going on with other people too.

That helps you to cultivate a deep appreciation for people and means:

  • You say thank you often
  • You give compliments with sincerity and freely
  • You recognize and value the strengths and contributions of others
  • You’re happy to offer constructive feedback and positive guidance
  • You want to celebrate people’s successes and achievements

8) Being able to stop yourself in the heat of the moment

Like I suspect countless people all around the world, my mom can sometimes drive me nuts.

Hey, that’s not a reflection of how much I love her. It’s just a recognition that nothing can be quite as triggering as family.

As spiritual teacher Ram Das once remarked.

“If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.”

So sometimes I lose sight of the emotionally smart thing to do, and instead, bite back.

When our buttons are pushed we can go into attack mode without even thinking.

If you’ve ever been able to catch yourself before this happens, that’s your emotional intelligence at play.

It’s our EQ that allows us to:

  • Manage and regulate emotions more effectively
  • Avoid impulsive reactions and think before responding
  • Look for healthier ways to cope with negative emotions

Sometimes it kicks in too late, and we’ve already said something we’ll regret.

Sorry mom!

We’ve allowed our emotions to pour frantically out of us in potentially ugly ways.

Every time you’ve taken a deep breath and paused to reflect before you reach that point, kudos to you.

9) How well you handle fallouts and conflict

I’ve always found it surprising that a few people amongst us seem to thrive on drama. They seemingly have zero problems storming in and kicking up a fuss.

That’s certainly not me, but that doesn’t mean my approach to conflict is much better!

That’s because I’ve been guilty of avoidance when it comes to tackling issues that arise.

But working on my emotional intelligence is helping me to overcome that.

Because conflict resolution gets much easier when we can apply some EQ skills to it.

This helps us to:

  • Express how we feel even when it’s difficult
  • Communicate assertively when we need to, without getting aggressive
  • Tell people our side calmly and without being demanding
  • Approach conflicts with more of an open mind
  • Listen to other sides before forming judgments
  • Look for common ground
  • Focus on finding solutions

10) Being able to deal with change

How adaptable and flexible do you think you are?

When life throws a curve ball at us, our level of emotional intelligence can play a role in our ability to bounce back and move forward.

That’s because it encourages us to stay aware and embrace change in order to seek opportunities, learn, and grow.

Regulating your emotions enables you to stay calm and keep an open mind whilst you consider alternative options.

You’re better at managing stress effectively and pushing yourself on through uncertain times.

Emotional intelligence creeps into way more aspects of life than we imagine

Empathy and emotional awareness are understandably two skills that make the most headlines when we talk about having emotional intelligence.

But as we’ve seen, that often encompasses far more areas of life and situations we encounter than we may at first think.

In fact, you’ve probably realized by now that you have been using your emotional intelligence without giving yourself credit for it.

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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