You’ve probably seen influencer therapists and bloggers talking about the importance of emotional intelligence. But what is it? Do we all need it? And how do we know if we actually have it or not?
Often referred to as EQ, emotional intelligence is crucial if we want to have meaningful relationships with depth and honesty.
Some people seem to have a natural ability to know themselves and be able to read the emotions of a whole room.
Meanwhile, others flail around in the ocean of emotion, not really knowing how they or anyone else is feeling — woefully incapable of expressing themselves.
If you are curious to know which category you fall into, let’s dive into my five favorite signs of high emotional intelligence.
1) Empathy: Understanding and connecting with others
Are you the friend often called upon in a crisis? Are you a gentle shoulder to lean on, someone who makes others feel comfortable?
If yes, let that be a strong indicator that people feel a sense of ease in seeking your advice or support. You’ve got a great deal of empathy – a clear sign of emotional intelligence!
To break it down even further, here are the signs of an empathetic person:
- They have the ability to put themselves in someone else’s shoes
- They can imagine how other people must feel in a given situation
- They can share the emotions of those around you
Your ability to connect with others on an emotional level can foster strong and meaningful relationships built on trust and a shared emotional landscape.
2) Active listening: Paying attention and truly hearing others
Active listening is another one of the most key components of emotional intelligence. We all love to be listened to, especially when we are down in the dumps and desperately seeking some kind of reassurance and empathy.
The effect of being heard with empathy and understanding can be oh-so-soothing to a sorrowful soul.
Think back to a time when you were sharing your heart and soul with someone and they pick up their phone mid conversation. That sucks, right?
You probably felt unseen, unheard and unsafe to share yourself deeply.
On the other hand, when you’ve sat with someone who is genuinely listening to you, you can feel it.
They are present with you, making reassuring eye contact, gestures, and maybe even reaching a hand out when you get to a sore spot in your story.
If you naturally find yourself able to give your attention to others, then it’s likely you are working with high emotional intelligence. You have a genuine curiosity about the experience of others and love asking thoughtful questions.
3) Self-awareness: Recognizing and managing your emotions
Being triggered is sometimes unavoidable. We all have things that will rub us the wrong way when other people do or say them.
But how do you respond? Instead of blaming, getting angry and reactive, do you take the time to reflect on your feelings and try to understand why you react in certain ways to certain triggers?
If this sounds like you, then it’s likely you have a strong sense of self-awareness.
Self-awareness is literally the key to being able to recognize and regulate your emotions.
It’s what stops you going off the rails when someone bumps into you on the subway, or if your laptop mysteriously switches itself off in the middle of an important task.
It’s knowing that the world is not out to get you. Like, it didn’t rain just to work your nerves, or it’s not your partner’s fault that you forgot your keys.
Figuring your triggers allows you to develop healthy coping mechanisms for when your nerves get fried by something out of your control.
Instead of seeing red, exploding, or retreating into your cave like a moody teenager, you can navigate challenging situations with composure (and keep your dignity intact).
4) Adaptability: Flexibility in handling different situations
Do you feel able to get a handle on yourself if plans change, or your environment shifts?
People that can deal with unexpected changes with ease and remain calm under pressure are generally thought of as having high emotional intelligence.
I used to struggle with adaptability myself. What helped me was thinking of challenges like being stuck in a traffic jam.
Am I going to sit and stew, honking my horn and getting all hot and bothered? Or am I going to accept that the jam is not in my control, but how I react to it absolutely is.
I might even look at my sat nav and find a new route to come off at. Either way, I’ve got to get where I’m going. And I can do it with a calm, collected style or have a freak out about it.
Simply put, the choice is always mine.
That’s something emotionally intelligent people understand. They know that they can either find a new way of doing something, or respect the fact that they can’t change a particular outcome and just make peace with it.
5) Conflict resolution: Navigating disagreements with grace
Are you a person who is always on the lookout for a win-win situation? Or are you a competitive there’s-only-one-winner-and-it’s-gonna-be-me type?
Those of us who want the best outcome for everyone in a conflict situation are working with high emotional intelligence.
If you know this to be a trait in yourself, you’ll notice that you tend to consider the perspectives of others and would rather strive for a peaceful resolution than be crowned king of the fight.
You totally get the value in maintaining positive relationships and are willing to have the hard conversations to openly and constructively deal with disagreements — even if those chats are sticky-icky and downright uncomfortable.
You’ll also likely have an ability to de-escalate tense situations by using your emotional intelligence to avoid a full blown meltdown in communication.
You might diffuse certain situations by using humor, or gently taking someone aside and asking if they are okay and if they need to have a talk rather than a shouting match.
Harmony and balance are extremely important if you are someone with high emotional intelligence.
Emotional intelligence doesn’t just play a role in our personal relationships, our professional lives are impacted by our levels of EQ, too.
Being able to navigate potentially combustible boardroom situations or customer service nightmares with grace and composure signifies that you possess this crucial trait.
And you know what? In this crazy, conflicted world, we definitely need more like you!