Have you ever met someone who just seems to “get” people?
They know when to offer a kind word, when to listen, and how to manage their own emotions seamlessly.
During a recent coffee catch-up with an old friend who’s a natural at this, it dawned on me — this is emotional intelligence in action!
So, what are the telltale signs that someone has mastered this incredible skill?
Stick with me as we explore 7 behaviors that reveal a high level of emotional intelligence.
1) They’re great at active listening
Think about a truly heartwarming conversation you’ve had with someone. No matter what it was about, I’m willing to bet that the person you were with was genuinely tuned into every word you were saying.
That’s what happened when I had my coffee catch-up with my friend. It was a much-needed “life talk”, and I was really struck by her ability to actively listen.
What does this mean? Active listeners fully engage with what you’re saying. Their eyes meet yours, they nod in understanding, and their body language is open and inviting.
They also ask insightful follow-up questions. You’ll find them asking, “How did that make you feel?” or “What are you planning to do next?” instead of just tossing out a generic “Oh, really?”
We’ve all heard this praised as a conversational skill. But it’s more than that — it’s a form of emotional attunement. When someone listens actively, they’re not just absorbing words, they’re also picking up on emotional cues, the unsaid messages between the lines.
This level of understanding and empathy is what emotional intelligence is all about.
2) They are highly self-aware
Ever had one of those “Ah-ha!” moments when you suddenly understand something about yourself that you hadn’t noticed before?
It’s like finding a missing piece to a puzzle you didn’t even know was incomplete.
Self-awareness is another key trait of emotionally intelligent folks. They’re the kind of people who know their strengths and weaknesses and aren’t afraid to own them.
Take my friend, for example. She’s always been the type to say, “I’m really good at connecting with people, but I struggle with time management. So at work, I really need someone else to keep an eye on deadlines.” And you know what? That level of honesty is refreshing.
When you’re self-aware, you have this uncanny ability to gauge your emotions and understand how they impact your thoughts and actions.
This doesn’t mean you have all the answers. It simply means that you’re in tune with your inner world.
And whether it’s understanding why a particular comment bothered you or recognizing your own contributions to a heated argument, this skill can be a game-changer for both you and those around you.
3) They have a positive attitude
We often hear phrases like “Look on the bright side” or “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” but how many of us actually practice this?
People with high emotional intelligence are champions when it comes to maintaining a positive attitude, and let me tell you, it’s contagious.
Don’t get me wrong; a positive attitude doesn’t mean ignoring life’s challenges or pretending that everything is rosy.
Rather, it’s about approaching difficulties with a problem-solving mindset and the belief that solutions exist. It’s also about lifting up the spirits of those around you.
Take my friend, for example. When I was worried about missing a work deadline, she reminded me of past challenges I’d overcome, boosting my confidence.
Why does this matter for emotional intelligence? Because a positive outlook enables you to cope more effectively with stress and even improve the mood of those around you.
When you’re optimistic, you’re not just lifting yourself up; you’re elevating everyone in your orbit. It creates a cycle of positivity that can be incredibly uplifting.
4) They are very empathetic
You know that feeling when someone just “gets” you? It’s as if they’ve read a few pages out of the book of your life, and they understand the chapter you’re currently living. That, my friends, is empathy in action.
Empathy goes beyond the usual “I’m sorry you’re going through this” and steps into the realm of “I feel with you.”
It’s not about having all the answers or offering the perfect solution. It’s about sharing someone else’s emotional space and genuinely understanding where they’re coming from.
Imagine walking into a room where someone has just received bad news. An empathetic person doesn’t need to be told that it’s not the right time for jokes or casual banter; they can feel it in the atmosphere.
But empathy isn’t just reserved for heavy moments. It plays a role in everyday interactions too.
For instance, when someone talks excitedly about a new project, the empathetic listener will share in that excitement, amplifying the joy and enthusiasm.
The beauty of empathy is that it’s a two-way street. When you offer it, you often receive it in return. And that creates a circle of understanding and compassion that benefits everyone involved.
5) They take accountability for their actions
We’ve all been there — a mistake is made, and the easy way out is to place the blame elsewhere. But let’s be real, passing the buck never feels as good as owning up to our actions, does it?
This is where accountability comes into play, and it’s a cornerstone of emotional intelligence.
People who are emotionally intelligent understand that they’re not perfect — and that’s okay! What sets them apart is their ability to take responsibility for their actions, both good and bad.
My coffee catch-up friend is a perfect example. There wasn’t a lot of space, and she accidentally spilled coffee on my favorite book. But she didn’t make excuses; she immediately apologized and even bought me a new copy.
It’s a really small thing, but that’s accountability in action. It means acknowledging your actions and their impact on others.
It also means assessing your own role in a situation. Did you say something that was taken the wrong way? Could you have approached the situation differently?
And finally, making a conscious effort to rectify them. Maybe that means apologizing sincerely, making amends, or simply committing to do better next time.
Ultimately, accountability is also liberating.
When you own your actions, you free yourself from the weight of guilt and the stress of cover-ups. You become the author of your own story, rather than a character written by circumstance and chance.
6) Respecting boundaries
You might have someone in your life who knows just when to give you your space, and when to be there for you. It’s like they have a sixth sense for boundaries.
Well, this person is a great example of someone who’s mastered emotional intelligence.
Just like my friend. I’ll never forget the time when she could sense that I was overwhelmed with work and personal issues. Instead of insisting on a hangout or flooding me with texts, she sent a simple message: “I’m here if you need me, no pressure.”
This gives an incredible sense of trust and safety. When people know that you respect their boundaries, they’re more open to being themselves around you.
They don’t have to put up emotional walls or be on the defensive, and this leads to more authentic relationships.
You’re already on the right track if you respect the boundaries that people explicitly tell you. But when you’ve mastered emotional intelligence, you’ll be emotionally attuned even to what people don’t say.
You become skilled at picking up cues, both verbal and nonverbal, that indicate someone’s comfort level — and that makes a world of difference in your relationships.
7) They’re not emotionally reactive
We all have moments when our emotions get the best of us.
Whether it’s a snappy comment made in the heat of an argument, or letting stress dictate our mood for the day, emotional reactivity can sneak up on anyone.
But those with high emotional intelligence have this remarkable ability to keep their emotions in check.
While I was still with my friend at a café, she got a frustrating email from work.
Instead of letting it ruin our time, she took a deep breath, put her phone down, and said, “I’ll deal with this later when I can give it my full attention.” That ability to pause is golden.
But this doesn’t mean suppressing your emotions. Far from it. It means understanding that you have a choice in how you respond to situations.
When faced with a challenge, emotionally intelligent people take a moment to process what’s happening.
They let the emotional wave come, acknowledge it, and then decide on the best course of action. It’s like having an emotional buffer.
By doing this, you’re giving yourself the space to choose a response that aligns with your values. You gain time to consider the impact of your actions, not just for yourself but also for the people around you.
Becoming a master of emotional intelligence
You’ve just read about 7 behaviors that mean someone has mastered emotional intelligence.
If you recognize these traits in someone you know — or even yourself — count yourself lucky! This individual has an amazing ability to navigate relationships and uplift everyone around them.
But remember, even though we call them “masters” of emotional intelligence, this journey is never finished.
Emotional intelligence is something you can continue to work on and become a better friend and more compassionate human being.