10 things emotionally intelligent people never do, according to psychologists

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Let me start by disclosing that one of my favorite people in the world is Michelle Obama. You know why? 

Because every time I hear her speak, it feels like a warm hug. I’ve read her books, “Becoming” and “The Light We Carry”, and you can feel that hug emanating from every page. 

Whether you’re a fan or not, you just can’t deny that she’s an emotionally intelligent person. Which is why she’s able to make so many of us feel seen and heard. That, despite the fact that we’ve never even met her! 

What makes the former First Lady, and all the other emotionally intelligent people in the world, that way? How do we get to that level of being so in tune with ourselves and other people’s feelings? 

Well, psychology offers us some insights. It’s all about their habits, which include avoiding several things. 

In this article, I’ll share 10 things emotionally intelligent people avoid, according to psychology. Hopefully, we can all learn a thing or two! 

Let’s get started. 

1) Negative self-talk

Emotional intelligence begins with self-awareness. That’s why the language we speak to ourselves matters so much. 

Emotionally intelligent people know just how powerful self-talk can be. Which is why they choose to flip the script on their inner critic. 

That’s no easy task. Some people aren’t even aware when they’re engaging in negative self-talk. Their minds jump to “I can’t do it” or “I’m not good enough” and they believe it just like that and act according to that belief. 

In contrast, emotionally intelligent people know how to track their thoughts. 

They aren’t immune to those Debbie Downers in their heads, just like anyone else. 

The difference is, they can catch that Debbie in the act and say, “Nope, not today, Satan.” 

This is also why they don’t do this next thing… 

2) React impulsively to negative emotions

Impulse control is really a major aspect that distinguishes the emotionally intelligent from the rest. 

Think about it – have you ever lashed out at someone when you’re tired? Have you ever thrown a tantrum when things aren’t going according to plan? Gotten mean and below the belt when someone’s rude to you? 

No judgment here…I’ve done all those things myself in the past! 

But thankfully, I’m getting better at it. With constant self-awareness practices, I can keep my impulsive reactions down to a minimum (and I’m hoping I’ll get it down to zero someday). 

In this context, I like thinking about what Michelle Obama said: “When they go high, we go low.” 

You can apply this to everything in life, whether it’s a toxic person or an event gone haywire. It’s called grace and we could all use more of it! 

3) Dismiss people’s feelings and opinions

Speaking of grace, emotionally intelligent people would never do something as graceless as dismissing what other people think and feel. 

That’s just unthinkable for them, because respect for others is practically a commandment ingrained in their DNA. 

And lots of empathy. Which, as studies show, is the most important leadership skill out there. That’s why the best leaders are the emotionally intelligent ones. 

For them, every person counts.  Every opinion matters, even if they disagree with it.

This brings me to my next point…

4) Judge other people for their choices

Let’s face it – human beings are a judgmental lot. 

I mean, yes, it’s a natural instinct because judging people is one way to protect ourselves. The problem is when judging is borne out of unhealthy intentions, like say, envy or to make us feel better about ourselves. 

I’ve been on the receiving end of such judgments and assumptions, and it never ever feels good. 

That’s not something emotionally intelligent people do. You see, emotional intelligence helps them to be more open-minded. 

They understand that there’s always a story behind whatever it is they’re seeing. And that the world is diverse – there’s so many people living vastly different lives from us, cultures having their own traditions and beliefs…

There’s just so much we don’t know out there, so why judge? 

If someone’s rude, for example, maybe they’re having a bad day. If someone chooses not to have kids, they must have their own reasons. 

And if someone wants to wear an outrageous outfit that doesn’t make any sense, they’ve got nothing to say about it, other than “Hey, you do you!”

No wonder people find them so approachable and fun to be with! 

5) Ignore boundaries

Understanding and respecting personal and professional boundaries is another hallmark of emotional intelligence. 

You’ll never catch them: 

  • Encroaching on someone’s personal space
  • Insisting on a favor, even if the other person has already said no
  • Asking intrusive questions 
  • Showing up unannounced at someone’s home or workplace (my personal pet peeve)
  • Demanding for an immediate reply to texts and emails
  • Giving unsolicited advice

Basically, it comes down to how they don’t want other people to feel uncomfortable. They’re very sensitive to people’s different levels of comfort and they just know instinctively how to behave around others so they feel safe.

And it’s not just with others. They are quite firm with setting their own boundaries, too. That’s just as important as other people’s boundaries. 

As Dr. Angela Swain says, “Being emotionally intelligent does not mean you must accommodate every request and circumstance because you ‘understand’. By protecting your resources (time, energy, money, space, etc.), you will have more to give to others.”

6) Make decisions based solely on emotions

This is mainly how emotionally intelligent people can avoid impulsive behavior – they leave room for logic and reason, too. 

And it’s also why, again, they make great leaders. You don’t want a boss who fires you just because they find your personality annoying, don’t you? Or a boss who blows his top when somebody disagrees with them at a meeting. 

Emotionally intelligent people have nailed the delicate balance of logic + emotion. That’s why, more often than not, they make decisions they feel at peace with – it feels right in both the head and the heart. 

7) Avoid difficult conversations

I’m sure a lot of people will agree with me when I say that confrontation is an incredibly hard thing to do. 

But emotionally intelligent people are okay with it, as long as it’s done properly. By that, I mean it’s done assertively, not aggressively. 

If there’s one thing they understand, it’s this – it’s always best to express our emotions. 

Otherwise, it will lead to unresolved issues that will just crop up over and over, and a whole lot of repressed anger to boot. 

So when something needs discussing, they’d rather sit down and deal with it. They’ll always go for the productive solution – hash it out, then let it go. 

Which brings me to…

8) Hold grudges

Like I said earlier, emotionally intelligent people have a lot of grace. And they’re in tune with their emotions

Which means, they understand just how damaging holding a grudge is. They don’t want to carry that burden around because it makes no sense. Why do that when they can choose to forgive and move forward in a lighter spirit?

I remember when I once had a long, drawn-out argument with my husband, back when we were way, way younger. I’m ashamed to say we did the silent treatment on each other for a long time (a month!) because neither of us wanted to give in. 

Until one day, in a flash of, I don’t know…wisdom? Grace? Whatever heavenly or supernatural being paid me a visit that day and knocked me to my senses, I just suddenly realized that I had to let it go. 

Afterwards, my husband said, “I’m so amazed you were able to do that!” And I said, “Well, I realized life is short, and I don’t want to waste a single day willfully choosing to feel bad.” 

I guess that was a day my emotional intelligence went up a notch. I’ve been following this mantra since then, and it has helped me deal so much better with forgiving others. And with this next thing as well…

9) Take things personally

Criticism is never easy, whether we’re emotionally intelligent or not. But the emotionally intelligent have an advantage – they can process it skillfully and see it for what it is, a note for improvement. 

In fact, it takes more to offend an emotionally intelligent person than the average in general. Their open-mindedness and non-judgmental nature will let them take a step back, reel in those messy feelings, and view the matter with a more objective eye. 

For instance, when my sister suggested a hiking trip for our whole family one weekend, all of us groaned and said, “No, nobody likes hiking here, that’s dumb!” 

She could’ve taken that personally and felt slighted, but she simply understood that it was about hiking, not her. 

I guess you could say that’s it in a nutshell – emotionally intelligent people know that most of the time, it’s not really about them. 

10) Fail to plan for stress

As the saying goes, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” That holds true for emotional/mental wellness, too. 

That’s why emotionally intelligent people have a plan for managing stress. They know that they aren’t perfect – when stress hits, they could potentially lash out or deal in unhealthy ways just like anyone else.

So they might have their own “prescription” for those days when it’s all too much. This could be: 

  • Going out for a walk or doing physical exercise
  • Practicing mindfulness meditation
  • Journaling
  • Making a list of things that make them happy
  • Immersing themselves in a hobby

You get the point. Your list might look different, and all I’ve got to say is – do whatever works for you, as long as it calms you down (and doesn’t hurt yourself or other people). 

As the National Alliance on Mental Illness says, “Developing a personalized approach to reducing stress can help you manage your mental health condition and improve your quality of life.” 

Having a plan is just the emotionally smart thing to do. 

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