7 signs someone lacks emotional intelligence, according to psychology

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Did you know that there’s more than one type of intelligence?

That’s right, being smart isn’t all about learning historical facts or quoting Pi to 100 decimal places.

Emotional intelligence (also known as EI or EQ) can be described as the ability to perceive, use, and understand human emotions (not just your own, but the emotions of others too).

So next time you cross paths with an obnoxious person who just doesn’t seem to ‘get it’, go easy. Perhaps it’s because they lack emotional intelligence!

Here’s the thing.

In the United States, a staggering 46% of the population is severely lacking in emotional awareness.

And what makes this particularly tricky…

Is the fact that spotting these people isn’t always super obvious.

Well, fear not! 

Continue reading to learn seven absolute telltale signs (according to psychology) that someone seriously lacks emotional intelligence.

1) They can’t read the room

Low-EQ individuals really struggle with this one.

To give you an idea of what I mean, imagine this situation…

You’re having a relaxed movie night with friends (because the weather’s terrible and you just want to chill). But there’s a new guy and he’s being extremely loud, continually talking during important scenes.

This is a prime example of a low-EQ individual being oblivious to their surroundings.

Why can’t they just keep quiet?

Well, according to this psychology research paper, if someone lacks emotional intelligence, they also lack empathy and find it difficult to read body language. So just remember, But they’re not proactively trying to annoy everyone. Far from it.

In fact, if you confront them about their behavior they’ll be genuinely surprised that you feel so angry.

For this reason, they can also…

2) Become easily frustrated

In the world of psychology, the link between emotional intelligence and stress is a well-established fact.

Here’s why.

Did you know that around 70 to 93 percent of communication is non-verbal? I’m talking about tone, facial expression, body language, posture, and even fidgeting with your hair.

Well, people who lack emotional intelligence overlook all of this stuff.

The end result?

They often get their wires crossed and misunderstand people, causing them to have regular outbursts of frustration.

And you can’t really blame them.

It’s almost like we’re speaking another language.

3) Give off an awkward vibe

Ever been around someone and just felt awkward?

This could be anything from uncomfortable silences and strange (out of context) comments to constantly talking over you and not letting you get a word in.

If someone’s socially awkward like this, psychology suggests it could mean that they lack emotional intelligence.

And remember.

It’s not because they dislike you or want to annoy you on purpose.

They simply lack social skills.

And can’t gauge how you feel or appreciate how their behavior may be tedious.

On the flip side, a high-EQ individual is constantly assessing how their audience feels. Whether they’re bored and want to leave or if they’re excited and thoroughly interested.

Well, low-EQ people can’t do this.

So another common thing they tend to do is…

4) Talk about themselves (all the time)

Psychology textbooks will talk about self-regulation.

In simple terms, this is the ability to manage your own behavior and reactions.

If someone is all “me me me,” it could be a sign that they’re lacking self-regulation (and have low emotional intelligence).

Here’s the facts.

We all love to talk about ourselves. It’s human nature to let our ego out of its box and highlight all of our accomplishments in life. But we also know that it can be boring to hear someone talk about themselves ALL the time. So we generally regulate it.

From time to time (or after a few glasses of wine) we might get carried away and hog the conversation. But generally speaking, we’re in tune with our audience.

It’s our emotional intelligence that allows us to do this.

But low-EQ people won’t hold back. They’ll overindulge and come across as being extremely self-centered. Whatever you’ve done or wherever you’ve been, they’ve also done it and got the T-shirt.

5) Point the finger

Someone who lacks emotional intelligence will seldom hold themselves accountable.

And there’s plenty of evidence from the psychology community to back this up.

For example, if they read your personal email, it’s your fault for leaving your computer unlocked. Or if they fail an exam, it’s the teacher’s fault for not doing her job properly.

Here’s the problem.

They don’t really understand how their emotional behavior can cause problems. So their natural reaction is to make an excuse or find a scapegoat.

In many ways, they behave like naughty children.

And again, it comes down to self-regulation.

You see, what they’re actually doing when they blame someone for their mistake, is protecting their ego and avoiding uncomfortable feelings of guilt or embarrassment.

It’s a natural defense mechanism.

6) Poor communication

Another sign that someone lacks emotional intelligence is if they struggle to communicate (I’m talking about both getting their point across or actually listening to what you’re saying).

It’s that word again! Empathy.

Here’s the thing.

In order to communicate effectively, it’s an absolute must that you see things from other points of view.

Especially for negotiation, compromise, or debate.

And according to psychology, iIf you lack emotional intelligence, you also lack empathy, which makes all these things extremely difficult.

And finally, a big consequence of having low EQ is…

7) Unable to make lasting friendships

Here’s the unfortunate truth of the matter.

Because of all the points listed above, low-EQ people really struggle when it comes to forming friendships or bonding (even with family members).

Not to mention romantic relationships, which take things to a whole new level.

There are psychology papers that prove it.

Their lack of empathy, lack of self-awareness, and self-regulation, plus their inability to gauge moods puts a lot of strain on any kind of relationship.

They’ll naturally tend to believe that everyone is against them or that nobody understands them, which can also make them feel paranoid and angry.

So let’s end on a positive.

If you suspect someone lacks emotional intelligence, why not give them a chance?

Deep down, they’re probably scared and confused so try to patiently explain what’s up.

After all, just like any form of intelligence, EQ can be improved through practice and understanding!

Leila El-Dean

Leila is a passionate writer with a background in photography and art. She has over ten years of experience in branding, marketing, and building websites. She loves travelling and has lived in several countries, including Thailand, Malaysia, Spain, and Malta. When she’s not writing (or ogling cats), Leila loves trying new food and drinking copious amounts of Earl Grey tea.

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