7 things emotionally intelligent people avoid doing in conversations

How we converse with others is such a crucial facet of our personal and professional lives.  

But being an effective conversationalist isn’t simply about being chatty. When you want to truly communicate like a pro, it’s wise to develop your emotional intelligence. 

When you lack emotional intelligence, people can spot it a mile away–and frankly, if you’re not careful, it can be alienating to many, particularly new acquaintances. 

Don’t let it get to this point! 

In this article, I’ll walk you through a few things emotionally people never do in conversations. Once you start avoiding bad conversational habits and maximize your communication skills, it’ll have a powerful effect on your relationship with others (and even your own self-worth) down the line. 

Let’s get into it!  

1) They don’t interrupt others

Here’s the thing: emotionally intelligent people typically have respect for most people and express it in quite subtle ways. When they converse, for instance, they display patience and restraint by letting the other person speak uninterrupted. 

They recognize when it’s someone’s turn to have the floor and honor that. Besides, they know that by listening and taking in a new perspective, they’re learning something new as well–a telltale sign of intellectual humility!

Emotionally intelligent people will always allow the other person to finish articulating their thoughts before responding. 

By making the speaker feel valued, they’re leaving a lasting positive impression.  

2) They never dominate the conversation 

I’ll be honest, there are few greater turnoffs than someone who dominates a conversation. Why? Well, for starters, this is a pretty clear indication of a person with narcissistic and self-absorbed qualities … and nobody wants that. 

When you talk non-stop and don’t let others get a word in, you’re exposing your conceit and lack of interest in other people. 

My neighbor likes to come over occasionally and when he does, he’ll go on lengthy monologues about himself. 

In rare moments other people get to chime, he’ll somehow bring the conversation back to himself or dismissively (and conveniently) shift his attention to his iPhone.

He won’t ask questions, offer thoughtful feedback, or get animated unless it’s about him.

Needless to say, I’ve started to come up with excuses when he offers to invite himself over. 

The emotionally intelligent person knows that proper conversation is all about give and take, about active listening and offering feedback, not just going on self-indulgent tirades. 

At the end of the day, you want to feel good when you walk away from an interaction, not mentally drained. 

3) They don’t neglect non-verbal cues

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you have the innate ability to read body language, tone of voice, and other none verbal cues. 

This is crucial as often the latter things can carry just as much (if not more) meaning than actually speaking. 

Let’s say you work in sales and you’re trying to build a relationship with a client. 

The client gets off the phone and appears physically distressed or agitated. Being emotionally intelligent, you don’t dive right back into the sales pitch, you let things simmer down. 

Maybe you ask them if they’re okay, offering support or some lighthearted banter until things cool down.  

By reading body language, emotionally intelligent folk are miles ahead of the rest, as they’re able to defuse tension and navigate the complex world of human emotions gracefully, typically yielding better results in the process.

4) They never make assumptions

Real talk: the emotionally intelligent individual will never make assumptions about how their counterpart is feeling. They always seek to understand by asking open-ended questions. 

They know that by understanding, they avoid jumping to conclusions which also means avoiding a lot of headaches. 

Maybe you’ve been regularly texting someone you like and they suddenly left you on read just as you were building rapport. 

Instead of freaking out and analyzing every word you’ve said to that person in the past, you don’t make any assumptions. 

In fact, you’re aware that there’s likely a reasonable explanation for the silence, such as work-related stress, etc.

You stay composed and rational, actively distracting yourself with other self-care activities. 

You’re fully aware that out of all the reasons they’re not responding, abruptly disliking you probably isn’t one of them. 

5) They rarely get defensive

Occasionally, you’ll encounter someone who might criticize you or doesn’t always agree with your perspective. 

Not a problem–you being an emotionally intelligent person are equipped to deal with such contention. 

You know that there’s no such thing as a perfect person so you always remain open to feedback, considering it as an opportunity for growth. 

While the average person might get defensive, you have the wisdom to know that the greatest teacher in life is not our successes but our shortcomings. 

6) They don’t avoid difficult conversations

From my experience, people with high emotional intelligence tend to know how to engage in uncomfortable or tough conversations

They’re bold and courageous and can handle these tricky situations with compassion and grace. 

I have a good friend who is newly single and has been heavily into the dating scene for the past few months. He seems to be on a new date every week. 

So far though, he has yet to find the one; meaning most of his dates have lacked the chemistry to take things to the next level. 

He always has the courtesy to tell his dates, in the most gentle way possible, that things aren’t working out and that he’s not interested in pursuing them romantically. 

He knows that as fellow humans they deserve honesty rather than being selfishly led on or worse… ghosted. 

7) They never ignore their own feelings 

From my experience, emotionally intelligent people are able to recognize when their unconscious bias is at work and take a step back to acknowledge it. 

While they are skilled at recognizing and validating the feelings of others, they are capable of understanding and addressing their own emotions

They know how their emotions might influence a conversation and can manage them effectively.

Emotionally intelligent people are therefore not governed by feelings and typically remain cool and collected through it all. They have self-control and are constantly able to deliver with tactfulness and class. 

How to be more emotionally intelligent in conversations

So, now that you know what not to do, you might be wondering “What techniques can I use to become more emotionally intelligent?” Fortunately, becoming more emotionally intelligent is something you can develop over time. Here are a few steps you can start with:

Active listening

By active listening, you don’t merely hear what a person is saying but also gain a thorough understanding of the message being communicated. 

To accomplish this, try to take into account the whole package: body language, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues in addition to the actual words imparted. 

Cultivating empathy

You may not always agree with them but try to understand the other person’s perspective and accept how we’re all inherently different. 

Try to imagine how they could be feeling and why they might feel that way; take into account that person’s past experiences and background, etc.  

By doing so, you can respond with more compassion and understanding.

Being self-aware

As much as possible, be aware of your emotions and how they might be influencing your responses. 

As we touched on earlier, if you’re feeling particularly angry or tense, it can have an effect on how you interpret and respond to external stimuli. 

Try to acknowledge these feelings and (if necessary) tell the other person how other factors can potentially influence your reactions, so that they’re aware as well. 

Emotion regulation 

Nobody is immune to emotion. Learning how to manage your emotions effectively can help you boost your communication abilities exponentially. 

Even if you tend to have strong feelings, do your best to respond in a rational and calm manner.  

Take a step back so you can breathe and collect yourself before you talk so that your response is appropriate and well thought out instead of impulsive. 

Effective expression

Learn how to express your feelings and needs clearly and respectfully. 

Use “I” statements (e.g., “I feel…”) to communicate your emotions without blaming or criticizing the other person.

Final thoughts 

In conclusion, I’d like to say that your interpersonal relationships are absolutely crucial when you want to get far in life. Remember, no man is an island. 

So whether it’s a potential client, a new friend, or someone you’ve known your entire life, being emotionally intelligent in your interactions has the potential to change your life in incredible ways.  

And in addition, by prioritizing emotional intelligence, you’re contributing to a society and culture that values understanding, empathy, and respect.

Once you make the shift, positive change and growth are all but imminent.

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Justin Brown

Justin Brown is an entrepreneur and thought leader in personal development and digital media, with a foundation in education from The London School of Economics and The Australian National University. As the co-founder of Ideapod, The Vessel, and a director at Brown Brothers Media, Justin has spearheaded platforms that significantly contribute to personal and collective growth. His deep insights are shared on his YouTube channel, JustinBrownVids, offering a rich blend of guidance on living a meaningful and purposeful life.

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