8 unusual habits that indicate low emotional intelligence

We sometimes include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Read our affiliate disclosure.

I’ve been waiting a long time for this!

In the past, I’ve written about some of the more subtle behaviors of people with low emotional quotients.

But I’ve finally been asked to write about the really unusual things that people with low emotional intelligence often do, and I’m totally stoked!

Call me a collector of oddities or a keen observer of strange human behavior, if you will. It’s true!

I’ve always been a lot more fascinated by the outliers and peculiarities than by what’s normal.

We’re going to dive into eight unusual habits that indicate low emotional intelligence. These are things you probably haven’t thought much about, but when they combine, they add up to a picture of someone with a very low EQ.

Let’s have a look!

1) They throw tantrums.

Temper tantrums are supposed to be just for tiny tots, aren’t they?

But we all know someone who will throw a tantrum when things don’t go smoothly, or they don’t get their way.

Call them meltdowns, outbursts, or hissy fits – it’s all the same thing.

This is an extreme reaction to a situation that really shouldn’t elicit more than a bit of bother.

And yet, people with low emotional intelligence will throw these tantrums often.

Why?

Normally, it’s because they’re not great at emotional regulation. They’re not really in touch with their emotions, so they haven’t learned how to respond to situations appropriately.

So they’ll yell and throw their fries in a fast-food cashier’s face when their order gets mixed up or explode with rage when someone bumps into them in a store.

They probably have some tension and stress built up that they don’t recognize, so they don’t deal with it appropriately. Instead, it comes out in an explosion for no good reason.

2) They fart in public.

Well, we all do, don’t we?

I’m taking farting as an example, but really the issue is that they do inappropriate things in public and don’t seem to notice that they’re inappropriate.

Hey, I like a fart joke as much as the next person! But what makes a fart joke funny is knowing that it’s not super appropriate to let one rip most of the time. It’s the awkwardness that makes it funny.

When you can’t help it, and a fart slips out, that’s life. But letting them go without thinking about it or giving proper warning is a sign of low emotional intelligence.

And it’s not just farting.

Nose-picking, belching, picking earwax, and even clipping your toenails are all considered nasty things you should try to do in private.

3) They’ve got road rage.

I have to admit that I can get pretty worked up behind the wheel. 

I get it from my father, who is a pretty serious driver/complainer.

But there’s getting angry, and then there’s proper road rage, and the latter is a sign that a person is not very emotionally intelligent.

Like throwing a tantrum, this is another sign caused by poor emotional control.

People who explode in anger at simple traffic insults and then react terribly to them are almost always having trouble controlling their emotions. That’s why they erupt like volcanoes.

It gets incredibly scary, doesn’t it?

Once, I saw a car and a pickup truck racing and trying to cut each other off. I pulled off to the right and let these seeming maniacs go by. But at the red light in front of me, things really kicked off.

The pickup driver had stopped in front of the little red car whose driver was blasting the horn non-stop. Then the pickup reversed and actually drove backward onto the red car!

It was an extreme case, and I later saw the whole thing on the evening news as well. They reported that one driver had cut the other one off.

Not nice, but probably not worth the two of them going to jail for!

4) They get confused watching shows.

One unusual sign of someone with low emotional intelligence is that they have trouble watching movies and TV shows, especially dramas.

I admit that some stories are full of twists and turns and can be hard to follow, but that’s not the type of thing I’m talking about here.

I’m talking about people having trouble following basic dramas like daytime soap operas. Even with the actors’ extremely exaggerated facial expressions, long pauses, and meaningful actions, some people still find it hard to understand what’s going on in the program.

The issue is that if you’re not great at understanding other people’s emotions, you’ll find it hard to pick up on how they feel, why they feel like they do, and how their emotions motivate them to do things.

They won’t get why Sam is jealous that Angela spoke to his brother yesterday and then didn’t tell him, but he heard from Jackie, for example.

5) They act like victims.

People who have low emotional intelligence still have emotions. 

They simply don’t know how to interpret or regulate them well.

So, they sometimes end up getting consumed by their own emotions without even knowing why.

This can make them appear selfish and self-absorbed, but the truth is that they’re having a hard time processing what’s going on with themselves, and that draws all of their attention.

They’ll get into a situation where they suddenly feel like they’ve been hurt or aggrieved and will completely obsess about it. They’ll shout and cry about how it’s so unfair and just how badly they’ve been affronted, even if it’s truly just a little thing that happened to them.

I have a friend who does this quite a lot. 

When he orders food, and it’s not great, he’ll go on and on about how this always happens to him. Then he’ll refuse to order anything else or share with anyone. Of course, in no time, he’ll start complaining about how hungry he is despite everyone having offered to share with him.

Playing the victim like this is such an unusual thing to do for a grown-up that most people have no idea how to deal with the behavior and get quite confused!

6) They hardly ever give compliments.

One thing that’s pretty unusual about people with low EQ is that they don’t give out compliments easily, if at all.

While this is quite weird, it makes sense if you think about what compliments are actually for.

A compliment is when you say something nice about a person or their actions. It could be praise for doing something well or just a comment of appreciation.

Any way you slice it, the reason we compliment someone else is so that they feel good. This could be designed to get us into their good graces, or it could be purely true and friendly behavior.

But people with poor emotional intelligence just don’t seem to draw connections between compliments and making someone happy. They may say measured things about work that they see as being well done, but their comments are aimed at the work itself and not usually at the person who did it.

7) They talk too much.

Once in a while, when I get excited about something, I’m known to rattle on without stopping, even getting to the point of tripping over my words.

If it’s a topic I happen to know something about that I think is really amazing, I love to share it with others.

However, people with low emotional intelligence can display this habit most of the time.

Their reasons are totally different from mine, too.

See, a conversation is an interplay between two minds, and there should always be give and take within that relationship. One person talks until the other person has something to say. 

That person gives hints and signals that let the speaker know they should yield and let the other person talk.

They use both verbal and body language cues. The speaker can also use cues like dropping their intonation or leaving longer pauses to let the other person know they’re welcome to take the floor.

People with low EQ are less able to interpret these cues and, therefore, will talk at length and not let anyone else get a word in edgewise!

8) They have a hard time getting back up on the horse.

When you get knocked down by life, you can pick yourself up, dust yourself, off, and climb back up to try things again.

But to do this, you might not realize that you need to have some optimism, self-control, and a fair bit of internal motivation.

But people with low EQs tend to surrender to pessimism and have trouble motivating themselves. So when they get knocked down, they’re not very good at getting back up.

Conclusion

These are eight unusual habits that indicate low emotional intelligence and often low social intelligence, too.

They’re strange behaviors but very good clues to let you know if you’re dealing with someone with a low EQ.

Lost Your Sense of Purpose?

In this age of information overload and pressure to meet others’ expectations, many struggle to connect with their core purpose and values. It’s easy to lose your inner compass.

Jeanette Brown created this free values discovery PDF to help clarify your deepest motivations and beliefs. As an experienced life coach and self-improvement teacher, Jeanette guides people through major transitions by realigning them with their principles.

Her uniquely insightful values exercises will illuminate what inspires you, what you stand for, and how you aim to operate. This serves as a refreshing filter to tune out societal noise so you can make choices rooted in what matters most to you.

With your values clearly anchored, you’ll gain direction, motivation and the compass to navigate decisions from your best self – rather than fleeting emotion or outside influences.

Stop drifting without purpose. Rediscover what makes you come alive with Jeanette Brown’s values clarity guide.

 

8 behaviors of genuinely kind people who also command respect

8 almost invisible signs you wrestle with feelings of inadequacy