People with high emotional intelligence usually have these 7 character traits

Emotional intelligence is a fantastic skill to have.

It helps you reach success at work, build deeper connections with people, and overall have a happier life.

But you might wonder what sets emotionally intelligent people apart. What is it that makes them different from others?

I’m blessed to know people with high emotional intelligence, and I eventually realized that they all share a set of certain character traits.

They are the perfect way to illustrate what emotional intelligence means, so let’s have a look at what they are, using my friends as examples. 

1) Empathy

Perhaps the most important character trait for emotional intelligence is empathy.

This is the ability to truly understand and share the feelings of another person.

I have a friend who is a shining example of this trait. When I was going through a tough breakup, she didn’t just offer sympathy.

Even though she had never had a situation like mind before, I felt like she could actually feel what I was feeling, and helped me navigate through it.

She would sit with me, listen without judgment, and ask thoughtful questions to really understand my situation.

This deep connection made me feel valued and understood. 

2) Self-awareness

Socrates once said “To know thyself is the beginning of wisdom.” 

He was totally right — especially when it comes to emotional wisdom

This is the ability to reflect on yourself with genuine curiosity so that you get to know yourself deeply — both the positives and the negatives.

This can be uncomfortable because you might realize things about yourself that you don’t necessarily like, and you must have the courage to accept them. 

But thanks to that, you can understand your tendencies and weaknesses better, and plan in a way that sets you up for success in any situation.

For example, I know that I tend to freeze up during difficult conversations, and often blurt out the wrong thing. So whenever I know I may need to discuss a challenging topic, I plan out what I’d like to say.

This helps me stick to the point without getting sidetracked into being defensive. It must have saved me dozens of fights and arguments with friends and family. 

And it’s all thanks to the great self-awareness I had gained through reflection in the past. 

3) Self-regulation

Self-awareness is a powerful trait, but to get all of its benefits it must go hand in hand with self-regulation.

What’s that? It’s the ability to control or redirect your disruptive emotions and impulses. Basically, it’s the ability to think before acting and manage your emotions in healthy ways

A former colleague of mine taught me a lot about self-regulation. In meetings, he’s often faced with criticism and differing opinions. But instead of reacting impulsively, he always takes a deep breath and considers his response.

I remember one meeting where an upset client was quite harsh with their feedback. Most of us would have reacted defensively, but not him. He calmly acknowledged the client’s concerns and promised to revisit the issues. 

Later, he explained to me how he feels a rush of emotion in those moments but has learned to pause and choose the best course of action.

This ability to self-regulate doesn’t mean suppressing emotions. My former colleague feels emotions as intensely as anyone else, but he’s learned to manage them in a way that works for him.

4) Curiosity

Curiosity might not be the first trait that comes to mind when thinking about emotional intelligence, but it’s an essential one.

This is the desire to learn, to understand new things, and to explore the unknown. It’s about asking questions and seeking answers, even in the realm of emotions.

For example, a neighbor of mine is always asking how people feel. At first I thought she was just very talkative, but then I noticed that she doesn’t just ask out of politeness, but she genuinely listens to the person’s answer.

I remember when we were discussing a mutual friend’s sudden change in behavior, she didn’t just gossip or make assumptions. Instead, she asked insightful questions, trying to get to the heart of the matter.

Her curiosity led her to a deeper understanding of our friend’s situation, and thanks to that she was also able to offer genuine support. 

There’s a fine line between being curious and being nosy, but the difference really lies in your intentions. As long as you come from a place of love, you’ll be able to make the right choices.

5) Resilience

They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger — and one trait that helps you with this is resilience. 

It’s your ability to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and keep you going in the face of adversity.

And it’s a vital trait for emotional intelligence because life is filled with challenges and disappointments.

A great example of this was when my cousin was laid off from his job without warning. It was the middle of the pandemic and he didn’t have a lot of money saved up for cases like this.

A lot of people I know would crumble emotionally under such circumstances. But he used it as an opportunity to reassess his career goals and decide to pursue a new path.

Instead of dwelling on the negative, he focused on what he could control and took action. He enrolled in courses to enhance his skills, networked relentlessly, and within a few months, found a new position in a field he was passionate about.

What struck me about his approach was not just his determination but his ability to maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of uncertainty. 

He acknowledged his emotions but didn’t let them define his future. This is what true resilience is about. 

6) Integrity

Next, we have integrity. This means standing firm on your principles and being honest with yourself and others. It’s about doing the right thing even when no one is watching, and it’s crucial to emotional intelligence.

This is something I’ve always aspired to embody, and a close friend of mine has been a huge inspiration. 

In his workplace, he once had an opportunity to get ahead by cutting corners and engaging in unethical behavior. Others would have surely been tempted, but he never wavered.

He confided in me about the situation, explaining how he felt pressure but knew in his heart that it wasn’t the right thing to do. He ended up declining the opportunity, even though it might have set him back in his career.

The decision wasn’t easy, but his strong sense of integrity guided him. Later on, he found success in a way that aligned with his values.

His ability to act with integrity didn’t just keep his conscience clear; it also built trust and respect among his colleagues and supervisors.

7) Optimism

Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person? Emotionally intelligent people tend to be the first type.

It’s not about being happy all the time — of course optimistic people go through hardships too. But they have the ability to see the silver lining, to look at challenges with hope, and to believe in positive outcomes.

A few of my friends have gone through some incredibly difficult times in their lives, including serious health challenges and deaths in the family. 

But rather than giving in to despair, they always managed to stay optimistic

When I talked to them about these life challenges, they told me how optimism is what gave them strength and made the recovery process easier.

So how does this relate to emotional intelligence? Well, optimism helps people approach challenges with hope and manage difficult emotions more easily. 

Seeing this firsthand in my friends is a lesson that has really enriched my life.

Want to build your emotional intelligence?

Now you know 7 key character traits that people with high emotional intelligence usually have.

You may recognize them in your friends, family, or even in yourself.

The truth is, we all have some level of emotional intelligence, but none of us are perfect at it. So you may realize there are some areas that you can still work on.

But here’s the great news: you can always improve your emotional intelligence, and any aspect of you for that matter.

You are in charge of who you become, and you can shape your character traits through where you focus your attention and efforts.

So if you want to become more emotionally intelligent, you now have the blueprint for qualities you can start to embody today. 

I’m certain you’ll see many fantastic benefits in your life as a reward. 

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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