15 signs you’re more emotionally intelligent than you think

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In a nutshell, emotional intelligence comes down to important things:

  1. How well do you manage your own emotions
  2. How well do you understand other people’s feelings

If you can nail this, you’re most likely an emotionally intelligent person.

But what are the behaviors, habits, and qualities of someone with strong emotional intelligence?

In short, what are the telltale signs of emotional intelligence?

This article will reveal all, so let’s dive in.

1) You’ve got self-awareness in spades

Knowing yourself is the gateway to growth.

Without the ability to self-analyze and dig deeper into your own emotions, it’s hard to truly understand yourself.

Self-awareness lets you pinpoint your own moods and feelings.

But not only that.

Importantly, having self-awareness also helps you consider how your emotions impact others.

Research has found this to be a vital component of emotional intelligence. That’s why without self-awareness it’s hard to have emotional intelligence.

Some practical ways emotionally intelligent people may use to help cultivate greater self-awareness can include:

  • Journaling
  • Conscious reflecting on experiences
  • Meditation
  • Being mindful of, and questioning, thoughts, and emotions
  • Cultivating better self-talk
  • Striving for a growth mindset

2) You can read people like a book

Here’s the thing:

Emotional intelligence is equal parts how well you know yourself, and how well you understand other people too.

That’s why the next telltale sign on our list goes hand in hand with our previous point.

Your social awareness is the other side to the coin of your self-awareness.

People with plenty of emotional intelligence tend to be good judges of character.

That’s because they can read others really well.

If you are emotionally intelligent you probably see the truth about people pretty quickly. You may have a very sensitive BS filter and can smell it a mile off.

Insincerity shines through.

Emotional intelligence allows you to decode others’ behavior and understand what they’re about.

3) You think before you speak

You’ll probably notice that a lot of the telltale signs of emotional intelligence on our list appear pretty humble at first glance.

But that’s because a lot of EQ is subtle. Think of it almost like a sixth sense.

An unconscious ability to read a room, or sense what is going on beneath the surface.

I doubt there are many of us who haven’t put our foot in it at some point.

But generally, when you’re emotionally intelligent you give more pause for thought.

You consider what you’re about to say. You consider how it might sound. You consider how it could be received.

In short:

You think before you speak.

4) You’re not easily offended

Emotionally intelligent people are less easily offended for two important reasons:

  • They’re open-minded and willing to learn
  • They’ve got a strong sense of self

This combination means they’re not so easily triggered by the words or actions of other people.

Their confidence and self-esteem aren’t threatened by someone disagreeing with them. They don’t rely on others’ opinions of them to feel good about themselves.

As a consequence, they often have thicker skin.

It also means they’re much better at the next sign on our list too…

5) You can handle feedback

Let’s face it, none of us enjoy criticism. No matter who you are, it sucks to hear.

But constructive criticism is useful to someone with emotional intelligence.

It not only helps them to better understand how other people think, but it also gives them an opportunity to learn and grow.

Rather than get carried away by their feelings and take negative feedback personally, emotionally intelligent people are able to stop and say:

“How can I use this information to improve”.

6) You’re mindful of your own thoughts

No matter how positive you are as a person, negative thoughts are a fact of life.

We all have the potential to spiral down. But the more emotionally intelligent you are, the easier it is to catch negative thinking.

Rather than take a negative thought as gospel, emotional intelligence allows you to question it.

You can draw a line between thoughts and facts.

You are able to see that the brain has a tendency to over-inflate its perception of threat — which can lead to negative storytelling.

Knowing this helps emotionally intelligent people to choose a more positive outlook.

7) You show up with authenticity

You’re far less likely to find an emotionally intelligent person pretending to be something they’re not.

That deeper self-knowledge and sense of self makes it easier for them to be sincere.

It’s not that emotionally intelligent people outpour their emotions or indulge in oversharing.

It’s more that they have the gumption to say what they mean and mean what they say.

They realize that you can’t please all the people, all of the time. But it’s more important to them to stick to their own values and principles.

8) You are empathetic

Another cornerstone of emotional intelligence is empathy.

Empathy is:

“The ability to sense other people’s emotions, coupled with the ability to imagine what someone else might be thinking or feeling.”

It all goes back to that important skill of social awareness.

When you can put yourself in someone else’s shoes, it helps build trust and form deeper bonds with others.

You don’t always have to agree, but you’re able to see where someone is coming from.

9) You can hold your hands up to mistakes

You can say sorry and make amends.

In part, this is because your self-awareness gives you the ability to reflect on your behavior and words.

It lets you notice your own errors, and that’s crucial to correcting them.

People who struggle to apologize tend to be stubborn and refuse to recognize they’ve got it wrong.

But here’s the surprising thing:

Rather than ego, often that comes down to their insecurity.

They aren’t confident enough to handle the fact they could have made a mistake. It’s too threatening to their sense of self.

But emotionally intelligent people can deal with the fact that they’re only human, and so they’re going to mess up from time to time.

They also know that sometimes for the sake of your relationships, it’s better to swallow your pride. 

10) You know how to forgive

Emotionally intelligent people don’t hold grudges. 

They recognize that resentment is like poison. Rather than damaging the other person, it only makes you feel bad.

They strive to forgive and forget for the sake of their own well-being.

Holding onto anger, bitterness, and frustration creates stress in the body that can keep you in a state of flight or fight.

Instead, emotionally intelligent people aim to move past resentment.

They keep an eye out for their own entitlement, accept what has happened, forgive what they are able to, and focus on gratitude instead.

11) You’re good at precisely expressing your emotions

When a child has a tantrum, a supportive parent might try to encourage them to “use your words” instead.

It’s not so different with adults.

A limited ability to understand and label what you are feeling can hold you back.

Emotionally intelligent people often have a better vocabulary to pinpoint exactly what they are feeling.

Rather than just say they’re “mad” they may realize what they are really feeling is actually closer to “disappointment” or “frustration”.

This gives them a better understanding of how they feel. In turn, that helps them respond more appropriately.

12) You can deal with difficult people and situations

Those good social skills often come into play during more challenging times. That might be in dealing with a difficult situation, or a difficult person.

Emotionally intelligent people are better at mastering assertiveness. They can be clear and commanding without bordering on bossy or aggressive.

As  psychologist Dr. Kate Dow, PhD, LPCC explains, emotional intelligence helps you to keep your cool when it matters most:

“When you have emotional intelligence, you’re able to address conflict, concerns, needs, in a much calmer, straightforward way, and that’s gonna improve your communication and your relationships with people, whether that’s professional or personal. ​And as a result you have a sense of confidence because you can take care of yourself.”

13) You’re curious about people

Curiosity is one of the important ingredients that fuels growth.

It is that quality of openness and intrigue towards the world and other people.

Emotionally intelligent people take an interest in people. That interest is what helps them hone their understanding and strengthen their empathy.

The more you care about people the more you strive to understand how they feel and what they think.

14) You seek progress over perfection

As we’ve already said, none of us like to get it wrong.

Feeling like we’ve messed up, missed an opportunity, or failed to do our best is always going to sting.

But emotionally intelligent people take a growth mindset approach.

They are able to recognize that progress matters way more than perfection — which is always impossible to achieve anyway.

And this outlook helps them with the final point on our list…

15) You don’t dwell on mistakes

We’ve talked about how damaging resentment can be.

Well, look at it this way, dwelling on your mistakes is like holding resentment toward yourself.

Rumination can be really harmful to your mental health.

Emotionally intelligent people prefer to learn the lesson and let it go.

They are far less likely to let one bad moment derail their entire day.

Instead, “onwards and upwards” becomes their motto to help them move forward.

Louise Jackson

My passion in life is communication in all its many forms. I enjoy nothing more than deep chats about life, love and the Universe. With a masters degree in Journalism, I’m a former BBC news reporter and newsreader. But around 8 years ago I swapped the studio for a life on the open road. Lisbon, Portugal is currently where I call home. My personal development articles have featured in Huffington Post, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, Thrive Global and more.

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