Emotionally intelligent people can not only recognize emotions in others but also experience and understand those emotions themselves.
They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes and offer genuine support. But they can do much more than “just” that.
Let’s find out what things only emotionally intelligent people notice about others.
1) Body language
Sure, most of us can pick up some basic body language in others. But people with emotional intelligence are gifted at reading body language.
They can interpret crossed arms, fidgeting, or posture shifts to gauge someone’s emotional state.
We all know how important eye contact is. Emotionally intelligent people follow the duration and intensity of someone’s eye contact to evaluate their level of engagement, honesty, or confidence.
They also pay attention to nervous habits, such as biting nails, fiddling with objects, or tugging at clothing, all of which reveal underlying anxiety or stress.
Incongruence means there’s a discrepancy or mismatch between what a person says and what their nonverbal cues or body language communicate.
Emotionally intelligent individuals can sense this mismatch.
Incongruence can serve as a red flag, signaling there may be more to the story than what’s being told.
For example, if someone claims to be excited about an opportunity but displays tense body language, the emotionally intelligent person can recognize the person’s true reservations.
They notice a lack of confidence in one’s abilities or a tendency to downplay achievements, something I fairly regularly do myself.
They do this by listening carefully to the words and phrases someone uses when talking about their abilities, achievements, or goals.
You see, self-doubt manifests in statements like “I’m not sure if I can do it,” “I’m not good enough,” “I always mess things up,” etc.
Emotionally intelligent people have honed their ability to detect brief facial expressions that last for just a fraction of a second. In other words, microexpressions.
Microexpressions often betray your genuine emotions, especially when you’re trying to present a different feeling to conform to social norms or expectations.
There are seven universal emotions recognized in microexpressions:
Each emotion displays specific facial muscle movements that can last a fraction of a second.
And what’s most important is that they can be observed across different cultures and aren’t solely tied to cultural expressions of emotion.
5) Stress levels
They can also sense when someone is under stress or pressure, even if the person tries to disguise it.
Signs such as increased tension, a change in tone of voice, or repetitive behaviors indicate heightened stress levels.
Understanding these signs can help them offer support, empathy, and assistance to those who are going through challenging times.
6) Emotional exhaustion
Emotional exhaustion is a type of burnout that happens when we become emotionally drained, overwhelmed, and depleted due to excessive emotional demands.
It can display as a lack of enthusiasm, detachment, or chronic fatigue.
Emotionally intelligent people can recognize signs of emotional exhaustion or burnout in others.
For example, they can notice decreased enthusiasm, engagement, or interest in activities that the person once enjoyed.
But they can also notice this next really important thing.
7) Tone of voice
An emotionally intelligent person is also attuned to the nuances of people’s vocal tones.
They pick up on subtle changes that signify different emotions like happiness, sadness, irritation, or enthusiasm.
But this skill also helps them understand the emotional context of a conversation beyond just the words expressed.
They do this by noticing subtle changes in pitch, volume, and speed, which help them figure out the underlying emotions someone expresses, such as joy, sadness, frustration, or excitement.
But most importantly, they have an uncanny ability to distinguish between an authentic tone of voice and a forced one. This helps them identify when someone is putting on a facade or trying to hide their true emotions.
8) Social withdrawal
Just as they’re conscious of other people’s body language, emotionally intelligent people are also sensitive to the social dynamics around them.
They can recognize when someone feels left out, disconnected, or withdrawn from interactions. As a result, they try to include and support that person.
Regarding social interactions, some people feel like fish out of water when they’re in large social settings.
Even though I’m not that emotionally intelligent, I also try to include others in conversations. Everyone has something interesting to share. And I appreciate it when people help me out when I’m feeling out of place, too.
9) Genuine smiles
There are smiles, and there are smiles. One is a forced smile that only involves the mouth, and the other is a genuine smile that involves the eyes (a Duchenne smile).
These genuine smiles are a key indicator of true positive emotions, and emotionally intelligent people have a sharp ability to recognize and interpret genuine smiles when interacting with others.
They primarily do this by noticing the presence of “crow’s feet” or wrinkles around the eyes, which show the smile is reaching the eyes and not just the mouth.
Try to look for it next time you’re talking to someone, as this eye involvement adds sincerity and warmth to the smile.
We’re staying on this topic for a little longer. As you can see, the eyes provide a wealth of information about a person’s emotional state.
Emotionally intelligent people pay attention to eye movements, directness, or avoidance of eye contact, all of which can reveal emotions like confidence, anxiety, or dishonesty.
The ability to read emotions through the eyes is a particularly valuable skill as the eyes are the “windows to the soul.”
For example, when someone is excited or interested, their pupils dilate. Emotionally intelligent people notice these subtle changes, helping them estimate the person’s emotional engagement.
As you can see, emotionally intelligent people have a unique skill set that helps them notice and understand the emotions of others on a deeper level.
Through their strengthened awareness, they can analyze underlying emotions, recognize coping mechanisms, and build meaningful connections with those around them.
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