People with low emotional intelligence display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

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There’s a clear disparity between having high emotional intelligence and low emotional intelligence.

This gap often comes down to self-awareness. Those with low emotional intelligence can act in ways that may negatively impact others, without even realizing it.

High emotional intelligence, however, allows for understanding and managing not only your own emotions, but also those of the people around you.

People with low emotional intelligence tend to exhibit certain behaviors that are telltale signs of their unawareness.

And I believe it’s crucial to understand these signs to navigate our interactions more effectively.

Here are some behaviors to watch out for that could indicate low emotional intelligence.

1) Struggles with empathy

One of the most telling signs of low emotional intelligence is a lack of empathy.

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It’s the key to building strong relationships, both personal and professional.

Those with low emotional intelligence often struggle to recognize emotions in others, let alone understand and share them. They may come off as uncaring or indifferent, even when that’s not their intention.

Empathy isn’t about agreeing with others all the time. It’s about understanding where they’re coming from, even if you don’t share their perspective.

Recognizing this behavior can be a big step towards improving emotional intelligence.

After all, understanding others begins with understanding ourselves. But remember, it’s a journey, not a destination.

2) Difficulty maintaining friendships

Another behavior that often goes unnoticed in individuals with low emotional intelligence is struggling to maintain friendships.

Let me tell you about my friend, let’s call him John. He’s a fun-loving guy, but he has a tendency to let his emotions get the best of him.

John often misinterprets people’s words and actions, taking them personally when they’re not intended that way. This has led to frequent misunderstandings and conflicts within our friend group.

He also has a hard time recognizing when he’s upset others. I’ve noticed he rarely apologizes unless someone directly confronts him about his behavior.

Because of this, maintaining long-term friendships has been a struggle for John. Many friends have drifted away due to these frequent misunderstandings and conflicts.

Understanding this behavior, and working on improving emotional awareness, can help strengthen relationships over time. And I believe John is capable of this growth – as we all are.

3) Overreacting to criticism

A characteristic of people with low emotional intelligence is their inability to handle criticism constructively.

They tend to overreact and take things personally, even when the criticism is meant to be helpful.

Individuals with low emotional intelligence are more likely to perceive feedback as a threat rather than an opportunity to improve.

This perception often triggers defensive behaviors, such as lashing out or withdrawing from the situation completely.

Being open to constructive criticism is a vital part of growth and self-improvement.

Learning to handle feedback without overreacting can significantly enhance our emotional intelligence and interpersonal relationships.

4) Difficulty expressing feelings

People with low emotional intelligence often struggle to express their feelings effectively.

They may find it challenging to put their emotions into words, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations in their interactions with others.

This difficulty isn’t about being secretive or reserved. It’s about an inability to accurately understand and articulate one’s own emotions.

They may feel something strongly but lack the emotional vocabulary to share it with others.

Improving emotional intelligence involves learning to recognize, understand and express our feelings in a healthy way.

This not only helps us navigate our own emotions better, but also enhances our interactions with others.

5) Impulsive behavior

Another common behavior among those with low emotional intelligence is impulsivity. They may react quickly without considering the impact of their actions, leading to regrettable decisions or conflicts with others.

Impulsive behavior often stems from a lack of emotional self-control. Instead of taking a moment to process their emotions, they react immediately, usually based on their initial emotional response.

Developing emotional intelligence involves cultivating the ability to pause, understand our emotions and consider the potential consequences before we act.

It’s about learning to respond rather than react, promoting more thoughtful and constructive behavior.

6) Struggling with self-awareness

One of the most heartfelt aspects of low emotional intelligence is the struggle with self-awareness.

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. It’s about understanding our own emotions, recognizing their impact on our behavior and how they affect those around us.

However, individuals with low emotional intelligence often lack this self-awareness.

They may feel overwhelmed by their emotions, unsure of why they feel a certain way or how to handle it.

This can lead to feelings of confusion and isolation.

The journey towards improving emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. It’s about being honest with ourselves, acknowledging our emotions and understanding their origins.

It’s not an easy journey, but it’s definitely a rewarding one, filled with personal growth and deeper connections with others.

7) Difficulty reading social cues

Social cues are a crucial part of our daily interactions. They help us understand the emotions and intentions of others, guiding our responses and interactions.

However, I’ve noticed that people with low emotional intelligence often struggle to interpret these cues. They may miss subtle signs of discomfort, misinterpret expressions or overlook non-verbal signals.

I remember a time when I was this way. Despite being in a room full of people, I’d often feel disconnected, unable to fully comprehend the unspoken emotions and intentions around me. It was like trying to navigate through a fog.

Improving emotional intelligence involves learning to read and interpret these social cues accurately. It’s about being present, observing and understanding the unspoken language of emotions that governs our social interactions.

8) Difficulty managing stress

People with low emotional intelligence often find it challenging to manage stress effectively. Stressful situations can trigger intense emotional responses in them, and they may struggle to calm down and think clearly.

The inability to manage stress not only impacts their mental and physical health, but it can also affect their relationships and performance at work or school.

Improving emotional intelligence involves learning healthy stress management techniques, such as mindfulness, deep breathing exercises, and physical activity.

It’s about learning to recognize the signs of stress and responding to them in a way that promotes well-being and resilience.

9) Lack of emotional boundaries

The most crucial thing to understand about low emotional intelligence is that it often results in a lack of emotional boundaries.

People with low emotional intelligence often struggle to distinguish their feelings from those of others. They may take on other people’s emotions as their own, leading to emotional overload and exhaustion.

Establishing healthy emotional boundaries is essential for our mental and emotional well-being. It allows us to empathize with others without losing ourselves in the process.

It’s a vital step towards improving emotional intelligence and fostering healthier, more balanced relationships.

The takeaway: Emotional intelligence is a journey

Emotional intelligence is not just a trait we are born with – it’s a skill that can be developed over time.

People often exhibit behaviors indicative of low emotional intelligence without even realizing it. But recognizing these behaviors is the first step towards personal growth.

We should remember that emotional intelligence is not about being ‘perfect’. It’s about understanding our emotions and managing them effectively, and extending the same understanding to others.

Whether it’s learning to handle criticism constructively or developing better self-awareness, each step we take on this journey brings us closer to becoming more emotionally intelligent individuals.

At the end of the day, our emotional intelligence shapes how we interact with the world and the people around us. It impacts our relationships, our work, and ultimately, our happiness.

Improving emotional intelligence is a lifelong journey, but it’s undoubtedly one worth undertaking.

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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