The 8 most underrated qualities of emotionally intelligent people

Emotional intelligence is often misunderstood. Besides, how do you know if you’re emotionally intelligent or not?

On the one hand, you might already be doing things that improve your emotional intelligence without even realizing it. 

Conversely, you might be completely unaware of how much the lack of emotional intelligence skills may affect your daily life. 

Let’s explore together the 8 most underrated qualities of emotionally intelligent people. You’ll be able to spot other people’s emotional intelligence levels and improve your own if you need to. 

Let’s go! 

1) Emotionally intelligent people are empathetic

Empathy is important, and not only when it’s feeling bad when something obviously happens. In most situations where we’re required to deal with others, it’s a fundamental trait to have. 

Even if it’s something as little as your friend getting the wrong order at Starbucks (because show me a person who never got their order messed up).

In a nutshell, empathy is the ability to put yourself in other people’s shoes, feeling and seeing things from their perspective. 

Usually, people who work with other people should have a high level of empathy and emotional intelligence. 

Why?

Because they can understand and treat their customers better. 

2) They have an ample emotional vocabulary

Everyone experiences emotions, but not all of us can define them, can we? 

Especially when we’re going through a carousel of different ones. 

People with high emotional intelligence understand their emotions. They know how to deal with both sad and happy situations effectively. 

Most importantly, they can identify and name their feelings. 

Of course, most of us can define our emotional state as “good” or “bad”. 

But emotionally intelligent people go beyond this: they can feel irritable, frustrated, anxious, sad, exhausted, and even “borderline between slightly bothered and really annoyed” (as my friend used to say)! 

The more specific you get when naming what you’re feeling, the better level of emotional intelligence you have. 

3) They use their feelings as clues

It’s not a good idea to only make rational choices and use our logic to overanalyze everything. Similarly, it’s not ideal to only rely on our emotions. 

On the one hand, emotions give us information about the situations and people we know. If we ignore them because they are negative or “bad,” we might miss some significant information about somebody. 

At the same time, we might miss the subconscious warnings that usually go through emotions that we can’t rationalize yet.

People with high emotional intelligence know that their emotions are crucial when making a choice. They trust them and listen to them. But it’s also true that they don’t forget about rational thinking. 

4) They don’t try to please everyone

Perfection is impossible. 

Having a high level of emotional intelligence doesn’t mean a person is perfect: it means they don’t have to struggle needlessly against their reactions. 

They don’t strive for perfection when it comes to controlling their emotions, and they accept themselves completely. 

Of course, they are on an endless path to self-improvement without a clear end in sight. But at the same time, they don’t blame themselves when they express their feelings, and they allow others to be true with them as well.

5) They trust their intuition

Intuition, or “gut feeling,” is a powerful tool when it comes to emotional intelligence. If you’ve ever wondered how it is that some folks are highly intuitive, this is your answer:

Emotionally intelligent people know that they can follow their intuition because they trust their emotions and their reactions. 

For them, listening to their gut feeling is just a habit, like looking at the traffic signs and paying attention to the thoughts that arise, like joy, sadness, anxiety, or curiosity. 

They’re present, and their wisdom and understanding of different situations help them face every single problem and crisis in their life. 

6) They think before reacting

We’ve all met unpredictable (and unstable) people, whether it was our close friends or partners, or colleagues at the workplace. 

Their reactions usually depend on their mood, the weather, their stress level, and pretty much anything that might affect them. 

The result?

Everyone walks on eggshells around them. 

Emotionally intelligent people know how to respond to different situations appropriately, and they don’t lash out or have outbursts with others. 

They are level-headed, and they take a deep breath before reacting, process their emotions and think about the best way to handle the situation. 

They take the time they need to process, and they don’t make others afraid of their emotional outbursts. 

7) Creativity is their forte

Did you know that, to be creative, one of the most important qualities you need is emotional intelligence? 

There has been a lot of research about how higher creativity levels and emotional intelligence relate. 

Think about these examples: Albert Einstein, Edison, Leonardo Da Vinci, Vincent Van Gogh, Shakespeare, and so many others. They’re all geniuses in their way, but what do they have in common?

They all had to endure missteps, failures, and different crises, but they kept going. They got up, dusted off, and continued creating what they loved. This is why they’re considered brilliant, even to this day. 

A crucial component of their success is their ability to bounce back after every failure, after every difficulty. They were experts at emotional regulation, aware of how emotions influenced them and how to manage them. 

8) They know how to take feedback

When someone gives you constructive criticism, can you take it well, or are you offended? Do you learn something from it? Or do you block everything the other person is saying?

You might need to work on your emotional intelligence if you can’t take constructive criticism well. 

Why?

Because, unfortunately, in life, we will be criticized. And some people will not be constructive about it. 

You have to learn how to process someone’s feedback. Or course, if it’s rude, you have to protect yourself. But if anything that isn’t positive offends you–you’d better learn how to handle it better.

If you’re too sensitive or stubborn to listen to what others say, you’ll miss out on progressing and improving your life. 

Learning to be more emotionally intelligent

Every person has a different journey to emotional intelligence. Here are some tips that can make it easier for you to develop emotional maturity. 

1) Take time to name your emotions

These are some of the questions that will help you start to take notice of your emotional states, name them, and be able to manage them. 

  • What are you feeling right now?
  • Can you give a name specific to this emotion?
  • What emotions arise in difficult or stressful situations? 
  • How do you respond to something negative?
  • Are you able to stop, take a moment, process your emotions, and then act?

2) Ask and receive honest feedback

Ask anyone whose opinion you value about how they would rate your emotional intelligence. 

See if they can tell you about your reactions, especially in negative situations where emotions might be running high. 

They will help you understand your emotional skills, adaptability, and how you manage conflict. You won’t always like it, but it’s necessary if you want to progress. 

3) Read classics

According to some studies, reading literature with complex protagonists is great if you want to develop a higher level of empathy

By reading from other people’s perspectives, we amplify our own and can apply it to our lives. And what can be better than a cozy evening with a good book?

Emotional intelligence: Truth vs. Myths

There are many myths about emotional intelligence. Some of them are true, but many others are just misunderstandings. Let’s find out which one is which. 

1) If you name an emotion, it lessens its intensity

This is true! 

If you ignore an emotion or let it go unchecked, it intensifies. There’s a simple trick to overcome its power: naming it. 

In a nutshell, name it to tame it. 

Your ability to name these emotions comes from how much you know how to identify them in the first place. 

Do you have an extensive vocabulary around emotions? Can you name complex feelings? Can you understand and navigate difficult or negative emotions? 

Work on these if you answered “no” to most of the questions!

2) When people feel vulnerable they can empathize more 

This is not true at all. When people feel like they’re being attacked or left in a vulnerable position, they tend to close off and defend themselves. 

Why?

Because our brains get stuck in survival mode., it’s a triggered stress response: fight or flight. 

If someone is threatened or believes they’re being threatened, they will defend themselves or close off completely. 

If you tend to do this, be aware of the cycle and work to break it. 

3) The empathy level is a character trait

Very, very false. 

Empathy is a skill, a crucial element when it comes to emotional intelligence. Like any skill, it can be developed. You can quite literally learn how to put yourself in other people’s shoes. 

We’re biologically wired for empathy, and we can learn more and refine it over time. 

Remember that reading can be a good stepping stone to develop more empathy, especially if we choose to read books with complex characters. 

4) Emotions can influence other people

Super true! Emotions are contagious. 

Ever been about to give an exam at uni, and your classmates make you nervous? 

This is a classic effect of emotions influencing a group of people. It happens unconsciously, and it can be triggered by different things: voice tone, body language, microexpressions, etc. 

Emotional contagion (observing emotions) is a great skill when it comes to survival, especially in groups. This is why some things affect us all. We’re gregarious, after all. 

To sum up

You can learn about and develop emotional intelligence. We have a remarkable ability to learn and grow throughout our lives, and we can learn every skill under the sun. 

Yes, emotions are also a skill. 

Get ready to step into a newer world when you start learning how to process your emotions in safe and healthy ways. 

Anna Dovbysh

With 8 years of writing experience and a deep interest in psychology, relationship advice, and spirituality, Anna’s here to shine a light on the most interesting self-development topics and share some life advice. She's got a Master's Degree in International Information and is a life-long learner of writing and storytelling. In the past, she worked on a radio station and a TV channel as a journalist and even tought English in Cambodia to local kids. Currently, she's freelancing and traveling around the globe, exploring new places, and getting inspired by the people she meets and the stories they tell. Subscribe to her posts and get in touch with her on her social media:
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