In these days of high-strung emotions and knee-jerk reactions, emotional intelligence seems to have become a rare trait.
What is emotional intelligence anyway? In a nutshell, it’s the ability to recognize, understand, manage, and use emotions effectively, both in ourselves and others.
When someone has a high level of emotional intelligence, they can empathize with others, communicate effectively, and regulate their emotions in a way that doesn’t disrupt relationships or create conflict.
Now, what if they don’t have this ability? How can you spot someone who’s not quite there when it comes to emotional intelligence?
In this article, I’ll lay out 5 traits of people who lack emotional intelligence. Let’s dive in!
1) They have a hard time identifying emotions
You see, a key aspect of emotional intelligence is the ability to identify and label emotions in ourselves and others. It’s being able to say, “I feel so nervous and excited at the same time!” or “I can see you’re feeling frustrated that you didn’t get the job.”
If you can do this, it’s a huge step up in terms of communication. You’ll be able to express exactly how you feel and get issues resolved (more on this later).
If someone is always saying things like, “I don’t know why I’m feeling this way,” or “I can’t tell what they’re feeling,” it might be a sign that they lack emotional intelligence.
These individuals may also struggle with understanding the nuances between different emotions.
For example, they may not be able to distinguish between feeling frustrated and feeling angry, or they might lump all “bad” emotions into one big category.
I’m sure you can see how hard it would be to communicate with someone like that!
2) They’re not great at expressing emotions
As I mentioned earlier, being able to identify what you feel is the first step towards expression.
That’s an area people with low emotional intelligence struggle with. Because, of course, how can they fix what’s wrong if they can’t even identify it and tell the other person about it, right?
So, difficulty expressing emotions? That’s a red flag.
I once had a boyfriend who would clam up or avoid talking about their feelings altogether. And let me tell you, it was pretty frustrating to try and resolve issues! Getting him to speak up and express himself was like pulling teeth!
And on top of that, because those feelings were all bottled up inside, he would explode when he’d finally had enough.
That’s another thing to watch out for. Because people with low emotional intelligence find it hard to get their feelings out, they tend to lash out or become overly emotional when trying to communicate how they feel.
They may also find it difficult to understand how their actions or emotions affect others. It’s really common to hear them say things like, “It’s not a big deal,” or “You’re overreacting,” when they’ve upset or offended someone.
This leads me to my next point…
3) They struggle with empathy
Those statements above are examples of how people with low emotional intelligence are lacking in the empathy department.
Empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence – it’s about putting ourselves in another person’s shoes to understand their emotions and perspective.
Emotionally intelligent people have this down to an art. They can easily tell how someone’s feeling, and they can truly show support and compassion when someone needs it.
In contrast, if someone lacks empathy, they may come across as cold or indifferent when others are experiencing difficult emotions. They can’t quite “read” other people’s feelings or body language, which can make their interactions seem awkward or unfeeling.
And when someone’s upset, they may struggle to understand why. Thus, they could say insensitive things (like those examples in the previous section) that make the other person feel even worse!
4) They don’t handle stress well
Let’s face it: life can be stressful. But how we handle that stress can say a lot about our emotional intelligence.
Someone who lacks emotional intelligence might have a hard time managing their emotions when the going gets tough. They might become easily overwhelmed, anxious, or irritable, making it difficult for them to think clearly or make rational decisions.
On the flip side, as I mentioned earlier, they might also be prone to bottling up their emotions and trying to suppress how they’re feeling. This can lead to emotional outbursts or even physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches.
Again, this boils down to a lack of self-awareness – which leads to the inability to identify and express themselves in healthy ways.
5) They struggle with relationships
All of those points above add up to one main thing – people who aren’t very well-versed emotionally tend to struggle with relationships.
That inability to process, express, and identify feelings – whether it’s theirs or other people’s – makes it harder for them to form deep connections.
Think about this – if someone in your life…
- Isn’t capable of working through issues calmly and rationally
- Gets defensive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive when there’s conflict
- Dismisses how you feel
- Blames other people for their problems
- Clams up during difficult conversations
…I don’t see how you can expect them to navigate the complex and rollercoaster ride of relationships with you!
How to level up your emotional intelligence
So, did you recognize yourself in these traits?
Don’t worry – emotional intelligence is something you can develop over time, just like any other skill! Here are some ways to do that:
Begin with self-awareness
Pay attention to your emotions, thoughts, and behaviors.
Try to understand the patterns and triggers that lead to certain emotional responses. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can heighten your sense of self-awareness and self-regulation.
Listen closely to others and try to imagine how they feel. Keep an open mind so you can guard yourself against making judgments.
Develop healthy ways to cope with stress
This would involve setting boundaries, investing time for self-care, or seeking the help of a professional, like a counselor or therapist.
Emotional intelligence is such an invaluable skill that can boost the strength and quality of your relationships. And as you can see, it’s not a fixed kind of intelligence – it’s something you can totally work on and develop!
So, keep at it and watch how you get better at expressing yourself.
Believe me, the people around you will feel so grateful and supported when you can finally “get” them!