Your emotional intelligence is vital to your success in many areas of life.
In fact, it’s thought that your IQ only accounts for around 20% of how well you do. Meanwhile, the remaining 80% is down to your emotional and social intelligence.
Having a high EQ can set you free and save you from plenty of common mistakes.
Let’s take a look at them…
1) Not reading between the lines
We give off so many clues and cues in not just what we say, but how we say it.
That means our tone of voice, the wording we use, and our body language. Some people seem oblivious to these cues.
People with strong emotional intelligence know that these details are just as important as the content of what someone is saying.
They use it to build up an overall picture and create the most appropriate response. That’s why those who excel in reading the room usually have strong EQ.
2) Expecting people to see things the same way as you
People lacking in emotional intelligence struggle with staying open-minded about different ideas and opinions.
And that can be incredibly limiting.
Our cooperation as well as our growth so often relies on us being able to shift perspectives and see things from someone else’s point of view.
We don’t have to agree with one another, but good emotional intelligence allows us to agree to disagree.
3) Intolerance and judgment
For much the same reasons as the point above, emotionally intelligent people are far less likely to fall victim to preconceived notions.
Because they are better at understanding different sides other than their own, they’re not as quick to jump to conclusions.
They give people the benefit of the doubt.
4) Speaking before thinking
The more you become aware of people’s feelings the more you think before speaking.
Instead of rushing right in, we can consider how our words will be received. Rather than be about censoring ourselves, it’s more about consideration for others.
We are more mindful of the power of what we say. Our words become our spell and we do not cast them lightly.
5) Being misleading or sending mixed messages
Of course, being considerate and showing tact doesn’t mean being vague. But our communication skills improve as our emotional intelligence does.
So confusion about what you’re trying to say becomes a lot less likely when you have high EQ.
You are clear rather than fluffy about the message you are trying to convey.
6) Blowing a fuse
One of the keys to keeping your cool in pressured situations is being able to manage your emotions. And having strong emotional intelligence allows this.
It helps us to understand our feelings, so we can then seek to control them.
We can look honesty at ourselves and choose a better way of dealing with things. So you’re less likely to get swept up in your feelings and carried away.
7) Disregarding their own feelings
The more we pay attention to our feelings, the better we get at listening to them.
You pick up on gut feelings and instincts and you know how to trust them, rather than overanalyze or question them.
Because being aware of your feelings and knowing how to keep a lid on them is not the same as disregarding those feelings.
Emotionally intelligent people are better at knowing which emotions are significant and need their attention, and which are best left to simply pass.
8) Expecting people to keep their emotions out of things
Just as we can’t (and shouldn’t) try to ignore our own feelings, neither should we expect other people to.
We’re not robots. That means in all areas of life, our feelings matter.
We cannot be expected to keep things “strictly business” to a sterile extent.
Feelings have a habit of creeping in, and we have to show one another compassion and grace over this.
9) Trying to control or manipulate
If we’re honest, I’m sure most of us would admit that we prefer things done our way.
But those with emotional intellengence know that’s not always possible.
Trying to control or cajole others is not only a toxic behavior, but it also has a habit of backfiring eventually.
Emotional blackmail and guilt trips are not something emotionally aware people are prepared to do.
10) Laying down ultimatums
Perhaps one of the most extreme means of trying to control someone is through an ultimatum.
But emotionally intelligent people understand we cannot easily lay down the law in this way.
We cannot simply categorize something as right or wrong and try to inflict that on others. Ultimatums may control people’s actions, but they will never win hearts and minds.
11) Having unrealistic standards
High standards are great, but they always have to be reasonable.
When we burden ourselves and others with perfectionist ideals it has the opposite effect than the one intended.
It stifles and limits us as we struggle to live up to the pressure.
Nobody is perfect, we’re all just doing the best we can.
That doesn’t mean we can’t improve. But having emotional intelligence means knowing when to cut people some slack.
Much like the next thing on our list…
12) Holding on to grudges
Bitterness eats away at us and steals our peace of mind.
The real kicker is that whilst we stew on it, the object of our frustration probably knows nothing about this.
They are not consumed by it, but we are. So it destroys us and does nothing to rectify the situation.
Realizing the futility of holding a grudge isn’t easy. It takes great awareness and practice.
Forgiveness is a skill and one that takes plenty of emotional intelligence. But it also prevents us from getting stuck in the past, which is never a good idea.
“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.”
— Henry David Thoreau
It’s true that the past can hold valuable lessons for us. We can use our experiences to grow. But when we dwell, it turns into something else.
We can get lost in recriminations and ruminations that draw us from the present moment.
It encourages us to worry and overthink. Yet because the moment has already passed, there is nothing we can do about it now.
The only influence we have is on the present moment.
14) Looking to others for their self-worth
We all find validation in our relationships and connections. That’s normal. But we should find the overwhelming majority of our validation from within.
Looking for all of our sense of self-worth and self-esteem outside ourselves puts us at the mercy of others.
We become overly sensitive to their reactions. Which can quickly lead to the next mistake on our list…
15) People pleasing behaviors
When we care too much about what others think about us it can start to erode our healthy boundaries.
We become afraid to say no, we don’t want to rock the boat or disagree. And in the process, you may end up neglecting your own needs.
But people with emotional intelligence aren’t afraid of being assertive, and neither will they give in to peer pressure.
Stonewalling is pretty much when we shut down and refuse to communicate.
In milder forms, it may look like sulking or giving someone the silent treatment.
It’s essentially a passive-aggressive tactic that is often a defense mechanism that people use when they are feeling hurt or threatened.
But understandably, totally closing yourself off destroys healthy communication and leads to a stalemate.
17) Taking things personally
People with emotional intelligence are better at receiving constructive feedback as they don’t take everything to heart.
Rather than feel defensive about things, they are more open to the value of other opinions.
Similarly, they’re less likely to take someone else’s behaviors or words personally.
They know that how we behave is 100% a reflection on us, and has very little to do with others. So they do not absorb responsibility that isn’t theirs.
18) Blaming others
Just as they are not responsible for how others behave, the reverse is also true.
They don’t seek to excuse themselves by finding a scapegoat. They aren’t quick to make excuses or attribute blame elsewhere.
Because there is a difference between understanding the reasons for acting the way you did and excusing it.
By taking full responsibility for themselves, emotionally intelligent people avoid the disempowering move of falling into victimhood.
To conclude: We can all become more emotionally intelligent
Emotional intelligence isn’t something you either have or don’t have, it’s something you develop.
That means we can all strengthen ours. How? Here are a few things to try:
- Observe your feelings and emotions without judgment
- Work on your overall self-awareness
- Recognize and build the important foundations of self-love and self-esteem
- Actively question your own feelings, thoughts, ideas, and beliefs. Where do they come from?
- Use journaling to look at yourself more objectively
- Discover your personal triggers
- Find healthy outlets for your feelings — e.g. exercise, therapy, meditation
- Improve your active listening
- In difficult situations, stop and take a breath before responding to create space around your emotions
- Try to notice the little things about people to improve your social awareness
- Read more books — research has shown that connecting with characters in stories improves our empathy
- Purposefully expose yourself to differing ideas and challenging viewpoints
- Plays devil’s advocate and try arguing for the other side
- Encourage other people’s feedback — they can see things we don’t