12 signs you’re more emotionally intelligent than the average person, according to psychology

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a rare commodity. 

Not everybody develops the capacity to understand, manage and respond to their own feelings or those of other people. 

But if you’re one of those who does have an elevated EQ, then you understand and experience life in a unique way:

Your emotional life is deep and complex, and you can understand and work with the emotions of others in a profound and meaningful way. 

Let’s take a look at what psychology has to say on the subject in terms of indications of possessing above-average EQ.

1) You’re highly self-aware

Self-awareness is the first crucial cornerstone of having high EQ. 

You have a strong understanding of your own emotional reality and the way that you’re built. 

You don’t just know this on an abstract level, either, but through hard-won life experience. 

You are very aware of how you absorb and express feelings and how that also impacts others for better or for worse. 

As mental health writer Hanne Keiling notes:

“If you’re self-aware, you understand your emotions and their triggers. You also know how your emotions and actions affect those around you.”

2) You practice active listening 

Active listening is the habit of truly listening to what other people say at a deeper level than just the surface. 

For example, instead of just hearing that somebody says they are very busy, you also hear that they are quite emotionally stressed.

You provide support if you can, and also do what’s possible to ask more questions and gain more insight into what’s going on. 

You’re not just going through the motions or hearing the words; you’re genuinely giving people your attention and empathy. 

Which brings me to the next point… 

3) You empathize with others

You truly care about others and what they’re going through. 

Even if you haven’t been in their position before, you do your best to relate to the emotions they’re going through and how they must be feeling. 

If you’re not sure, you ask. 

This is a key part of what being emotionally intelligent is all about, because caring about the feelings of others also means doing your best to understand the emotions of others. 

As Mental Health America notes:

“There are five key elements to emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills.”

4) You handle constructive criticism well 

Criticism can be difficult to take, but you handle constructive criticism well.

Malicious insults or random criticism that’s just designed to hurt you may also leave its mark:

But you do your best not to take it personally and to see the insecurities and issues that underlie this person’s behavior. 

Why are they being so critical?

Is there anything you can learn from their poor behavior?

5) You approach conflicts constructively 

When it comes to disagreements and conflict, you approach it constructively. 

You genuinely want to seek out a solution or compromise; but you’re also true to yourself and your perspective. 

You’re not just going to agree to any terms of a settlement to a problem in order to feel nice. You’re going to approach it realistically with a solution in mind. 

You do your best to let your own awareness of emotions guide you forward in being productive in the face of conflict. 

“Being aware of your feelings is the first step in not letting those feelings control you. Recognizing how you feel and why will help you to sit with those feelings and then move forward in a productive way,” explains Mental Health America.

6) You’re willing and able to adapt to change

Change can be hard. 

Even positive changes can be overwhelming, such as a move to a new city or the start of a new relationship that entails many changes from your usual routine. 

But your keen understanding of emotions and ability to manage them helps you in this regard. 

You’re able to adapt to change and approach it with a can-do attitude. 

This helps you out in many areas of your life and helps you network and adjust to change in an empowering way. 

7) You value strong interpersonal relationships

As an emotionally intelligent individual beyond the level of most other people, you value strong interpersonal relationships. 

Doesn’t everyone?

The truth is that many people take their relationships for granted or assume they deserve VIP treatment from those they care about. 

But you don’t operate that way. 

You are able to understand that your relationships are a blessing and also to understand that they require input and effort from you:

You take nothing for granted. 

This ties into the next sign:

8) You promote positive and inclusive environments

You know what it’s like not to fit in or to feel excluded and judged. 

As a result, you do your best to create and sustain positive and inclusive environments. 

You take people as individuals not judging them by labels or social categories. And you do your best to accept people for who they are. 

You want to provide emotional space that gives people more inclusion and affirmation for who they are and what they value in life. 

“You are wanted here,” is the message you like to send. 

9) You balance optimism and realism

Your high EQ doesn’t mean you’re always chipper and upbeat. 

In fact, you are quite realistic because you understand that your own emotions (and everyone else’s) are fragile things:

Life is hard and it often doesn’t go the way we would prefer, or even the way we feel is necessary.

You fully grasp how your own relation to the parts of life that are out of your control makes you both vulnerable and strong. And thus you do your best to balance optimism with realism in life and in making your future plans. 

“The emotionally intelligent are highly conscious of their own emotional states, even negative ones—from frustration or sadness to something more subtle,” explains Psychology Today. 

“They are able to identify and understand what they are feeling, and being able to name an emotion helps manage that emotion.”

10) You respect people’s boundaries and limits

You respect people’s limits and red lines, because you understand and respect your own limits. 

Even if theirs are different than yours, you have a fundamental respect for the feelings of others. 

They may be different than yours or motivated by different situations and issues, but you are still able to identify what they’re feeling and why they might be acting the way they are. 

As Mental Health America observes:

“Operating with empathy and understanding is a critical part of teamwork; being able to attribute someone’s behavior to an underlying emotion will help you manage relationships and make others feel heard.”

11) You’re self-motivated and handle your own emotions

You’re able to handle your own emotions and understand how your feelings aren’t the responsibility of anybody else. 

While someone’s unfair or hurtful actions may have caused you to feel down, you understand that your feelings are still yours. 

You may choose to cut that person off and not talk to them again. But the feelings are yours to handle. Not theirs.

“While observing others and their interactions can be helpful, monitoring your own emotions and responses can also increase your emotional awareness. 

Consider how your emotions influence your decisions and behaviors,” points out Keiling.

12) You’re patient and tolerant with others

Because of your high EQ, you’re remarkably patient with others. 

You are able to tolerate individuals you don’t like very much and be patient with their behavior that’s often annoying or not what you would choose. 

When it comes to getting angry, you also have a high degree of emotional control in most situations. 

You’re willing and able to reflect before reacting.

“Having emotional intelligence can help you avoid those situations when you might act on impulse rather than fact. 

Understanding and managing your emotions and those of others can help you be more successful in your personal and professional life,” explains Keiling.

The key to developing higher EQ

The key to developing higher EQ is self-reflection and a willingness to grow

Nobody is born with perfect EQ or understanding of suffering. Even the Buddha had a difficult and confusing life path before he came to see how our suffering is intertwined and soluble.

But by committing yourself to a path of growth and honing self-awareness, you will find that more EQ and understanding of emotions comes hand-in-hand. 

It’s all part of the journey to understand yourself and others and make the symbiosis between the inner life and outer world function together for the good. 

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