9 unusual habits that suggest a high level of emotional intelligence

You know there’s something that sets apart people with high emotional intelligence.

They seem to do certain things differently — what is it?

In this article, we will go through 9 unusual habits that people adopt, which support their emotional intelligence. (And that you can begin to practice too!)

1) They quit rather easily

We all know the saying “Winners never quit, and quitters never win.” So it might surprise you that emotionally intelligent people tend to quit things quite easily.

This isn’t about never finishing what you start. It’s about recognizing when your efforts make sense, and when they don’t.

For example, let’s say you start a business project.

You invest some time and money into it and start to run up against some unforeseen issues. The market isn’t really ready for your product, and you begin to have second thoughts.

Someone might say that you should keep going since you’ve already invested time and effort. You wouldn’t want it to go to waste, right?

But emotionally intelligent people know better. The time and money they’ve invested so far have led them to an important lesson: what they’re trying to do doesn’t work. It was worth it for what they learned along the way.

And now that they know this, any money and time they throw into the lost cause afterwards is pointless. 

Quitting something when you know it’s not working is not a sign of failure — it’s a new beginning. It takes a person with high emotional intelligence to recognize that. 

2) They are as kind to themselves as to others

Highly emotionally intelligent people are always kind to themselves. Is this really an unusual habit? 

Unfortunately, it is.

We are often extremely self-critical and hard on ourselves in a way we would never dare to be towards a friend.

I realized this myself quite recently. A friend of mine shared a photo memory of me from 5 years ago when we went on a trip together. 

I groaned and covered my face, saying what a terrible photo. I proceeded to list off about a dozen things I didn’t like about myself in the picture.

My friend was taken aback. “What? I just see a beautiful smiling young individual having fun!”

I realized in that moment that it would never even occur to me to criticize someone else the way I just criticized myself. Why was I so mean?

A lot of us have this negative track running in our minds, and don’t even realize it. As you develop your emotional intelligence, you can turn the volume on it down and begin to nurture kindness towards yourself instead.

3) They appreciate negative emotions

If you had the choice, would you rather feel happy or sad?

I’m willing to bet that most people reading this would take a positive emotion over a negative one any day.

But what are negative emotions?

Labeling feelings as “good” or “bad” is a human construct. Emotions are like the toes on our feet — neither positive nor negative. They’re just emotions.

Their original purpose is to help us solve problems. Fear makes you run away from danger. Anger makes you fight a threat. Stress makes you stay alert.

People with high emotional intelligence recognize this and can appreciate even difficult emotions for what they teach us

4) They learn to like change

Tony Robbins is known to ask his audiences, “Do you like surprises?” Most people in the audience say “yes”. And he says, “That’s bull***t! You like surprises that you want.”

Change is something everyone can appreciate when it leads to something better.

But unfortunately, we don’t always have this choice, or any control at all for that matter.

It can be difficult to embrace change when it means you lose something, whether it’s a relationship, a comfort, or a privilege.

But high emotional intelligence can help us acquire this unusual habit. And it will make your life much happier and lighter.

Even changes we consider negative can turn out to be good for us in the long run. 

Being fired from a job can lead you to discover a new passion. Losing your partner can push you to become more independent. And any kind of change gives us an opportunity to grow. 

If you love experiencing life, you will have to learn to like change because it’s an inseparable part of it.

Related: If you avoid these 8 habits, you’re more mindful than you think

5) They seek balance in their lives

Imagine your typical day as a pie chart. What would it be made of? 

Would the pieces be of equal size, or would one activity make up most of the chart?

If you’re a highly emotionally intelligent person, your pie chart will be more or less evenly divided.

Sure, there are activities we spend more time on. You probably spend a significant amount of time on sleep (I hope!), and also work.

But when it comes to the rest of your time, you take care to divide it reasonably. A bit of social time, a bit of self-care, a bit of time for hobbies. 

If you focus all your attention on one area of your life, you’re not only heading towards burnout — you’re also neglecting important aspects of your life. 

6) They continue to learn — even things they already know

One podcaster I listened to said something odd in one of her episodes.

She said that she had attended the same Tony Robbins event – Unleash Your Power Within – six times. The same exact event, six times.

Now, I know people who won’t even watch the same movie twice. Let alone spend thousands of dollars attending an event that teaches you the same thing over and over again. 

So why would she do this? The answer is, she has high emotional intelligence. 

People like this understand that there is never an end to learning. The moment you say, “I don’t need to learn anything more — I already know this,” is the moment you close yourself off to any further progress.

This young woman recognized that there were amazing lessons for her at these events, and each time she went, she discovered new insights and angles on the information presented.

She is humble enough to recognize that there is still plenty she doesn’t know, and she is eager to fill those gaps.

That’s why this is not a waste of money or time, but rather of really high emotional intelligence

7) They plan and practice what they’ll say

Have you heard that it’s good to be spontaneous and not plan out every detail of your day?

There’s some important truth to this. You can never know what other people will say or how they will react. There’s no use in painstakingly crafting a detailed script for how you want a conversation to go.

But you can still plan how you want to say certain things and the general approach you want to take in a conversation.

You can also build awareness of language habits you might have that make communication difficult, and work on reducing them.

I noticed, for example, that when I’m nervous, I tend to repeat myself a lot. This can make people I talk to impatient or annoyed — so if I feel anxiety building up, I am extra mindful of what I want to say. 

Planning out your approach in conversations helps you keep conversations on track and stay true to who you want to be. 

Related: 12 phrases to avoid if you want to sound more confident

8) They recognize the limits of empathy

Empathy is a good thing, right? It’s a huge part of what emotional intelligence is all about.

But people who have high levels of emotional intelligence recognize that there are limits to empathy.

First of all, most people find it easy to empathize with people who have similar experiences to them. But if you’re faced with someone you disagree with, the empathy switches right off.

While this is a good first step, it’s not what empathy is truly about. You need to be able to step into the shoes of even someone who thinks radically different from yourself.

But also, there are times when you really should tone down the empathy. If you start caring too much about every little thing, you’ll lose sight of the big picture. 

It becomes hard to make decisions with clear judgment — sometimes, we need to put aside emotions to use rational thinking instead. 

This is a very unusual concept for most people, which is why it takes high emotional intelligence to accept. 

9) They actively seek out feedback

Lastly, people with high levels of emotional intelligence are not afraid of feedback. On the contrary, they actively seek it out, whether it’s negative or positive. 

This unusual habit is what allows you to truly grow. You can listen objectively to criticism without feeling attacked.

You don’t see opinions that differ from yours as a threat — you reflect on other people’s perspectives. 

Naturally, there will be opinions you do not need to follow — but you can only realize that after you consider them with an open mind. 

Final thoughts

Now you know 9 unusual habits that suggest a high level of emotional intelligence.

How many did you recognize in yourself? If it was just a few, don’t worry. You can always begin to cultivate these habits and work on developing your own emotional intelligence.

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Tina Fey

I'm Tina Fey, the founder of the blog Love Connection. I've extremely passionate about sharing relationship advice. I've studied psychology and have my Masters in marital, family, and relationship counseling. I hope with all my heart to help you improve your relationships, and I hope that even if one thing I write helps you, it means more to me than just about anything else in the world. Check out my blog Love Connection, and if you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Twitter

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