10 ways people with emotional intelligence handle difficult situations

Life is full of problems. But, not all of us know how to solve them without feeling sorry later.

We all face issues at work, in our personal life, or when life surprises us. These situations really test how well we understand and manage our feelings.

Some people are really good at dealing with life’s ups and downs. These people are emotionally intelligent.

They know how to handle their feelings and tough situations.

But how do they do it?

Let’s explore 10 ways these emotionally smart people tackle any problem that comes their way.

1. They Don’t Hide From Their Feelings

Being emotionally smart starts with being honest about your feelings. Don’t push them away.

Remember, knowing yourself well takes practice. Like a muscle, it gets stronger the more you use it.

This could mean spending time in quiet thought, writing in a journal, or meditating.

Facing your feelings means being a bit vulnerable. But remember, being vulnerable doesn’t mean you’re weak.

In fact, it’s a sign that you’re strong. It shows that you’re human, and humans feel things – and each emotion has a reason.

For instance, feeling sad might be a signal that you need to take better care of yourself. Feeling angry can drive you to make a change. And feeling happy reminds us of all the things we have to be thankful for.

2. They Take a Break When Things Get Heated

When emotions start to boil over, it’s easy to get swept away.

But people who are good at handling their feelings know that making decisions in such a state can lead to choices they’ll wish they hadn’t made.

High emotions can blur our thinking, distort our views, and make us act without thinking.

Taking a break isn’t running away, it’s giving yourself a chance to see things clearly.

Let’s be real: many of us learned early on in relationships that it’s best to take a break during a fight.

I remember my first serious relationship in my early twenties. I was always anxious to fix things right away, only to realize that not all problems need an instant solution.

With emotions flying high, hurtful words were often exchanged, causing lasting damage.

I wish I knew then that taking a break is actually a sign of respect.

By stepping back and breathing, we can return to tough conversations with a clear mind and kinder words.

3. They Mix Feelings with Facts

Emotionally smart people get it: feelings matter, but they shouldn’t push aside common sense.

Emotions bring depth to decisions by including personal values and past experiences, while logic provides a clear, unbiased, fact-based framework.

Good decision-making needs both feelings and facts.

Balancing these two is like walking a tightrope. Thinking logically stops you from getting carried away by your emotions.

To make good choices, you need to find a balance between what feels right and what makes sense.

4. They Respect Others’ Feelings and Show Understanding

Everyone’s feelings are real and matter, even if you don’t agree with them. It’s all about respect. By truly listening to others, you make them feel noticed, listened to, and understood.

Try to understand what it’s like to be in the other person’s position. Don’t just think about what they’re going through. Consider the thoughts and feelings they might have because of their experiences.

If you remember one thing from this article, let it be this: In a world full of choices, always choose to be kind.

5. They Are Always Grateful

Even when life gets tough, emotionally smart people always find something to be grateful for. They see the good even when things aren’t perfect.

As a single mom working two jobs, I am bone-tired by the end of the day. I often wish I could just stay in bed forever.

But a few months ago, I started writing in a gratitude journal before bed.

I note down things I am thankful for, like the sound of my children’s laughter, a helpful colleague, or a tasty meal I made. Doing this helps me focus on the positives rather than the negatives.

Now, it’s important not to confuse being grateful with forcing happiness.

Gratitude is about seeing both the good and bad parts of life, while forcing happiness is about ignoring the bad parts and pretending everything’s okay.

If you’re feeling down, it’s okay to feel that way. You don’t have to pretend to be happy.

6. They Have a Toolbox Full of Ways to Handle Problems

Life throws us all kinds of surprises that can leave us feeling stuck.

Having a set of ways to deal with problems can help you bounce back and feel more confident about handling tough times.

There are two main types of problem-solving strategies.

One type tackles the problem head-on.

For example, if a messy house is stressing you out, you solve the problem by taking time to clean and organize.

The other type helps you handle the feelings that come with the problem.

This could be doing things like painting, deep-breathing exercises, meditation, writing in a journal, exercising, or visualizing calm and peaceful scenes.

7. They Use Humor to Brighten Things Up

A good laugh can work wonders. It can help ease stress, lighten up the mood, and make everyone feel better.

It creates a space where people feel more at ease sharing their thoughts and feelings.

But remember, humor should be used carefully and respectfully. A joke that’s in bad taste or ill-timed can do more harm than good.

For example, I once knew someone who joked about a friend’s recent breakup.

At a time when this friend was feeling very down, the joke was hurtful rather than funny.

So, knowing when to use humor is key.

8. They Value Relationships More Than Being Right

Sometimes, you need to let go of your ego and ask yourself: Is winning this argument worth damaging this relationship?

Even if you’re sure you’re right, insisting on winning can lead to a bitter victory.

Building stronger and deeper connections often means finding a middle ground.

This doesn’t mean you should hide your opinions.

It’s about sharing your viewpoint in a way that respects the other person’s feelings and point of view.

You have your side of the story, they have theirs. By understanding both, you get a fuller picture of the situation.

9. They Aren’t Scared to Ask for Help

As the eldest child, a self-employed writer, and a single mom, I wish someone had told me earlier that I don’t have to do everything myself – I don’t need to be a superhero every day.

It’s okay to ask for help. Help can come in many forms, like a trusted friend, professional help like a counselor or therapist, or a support group. The first step is up to you.

One of the best things I’ve learned in therapy is this: “Better the devil you know.” It’s natural to want to avoid new problems and stick with what’s familiar.

But when you start to face your uncomfortable feelings – fear, anger, sadness – you begin to see they’re not all bad.

These feelings give you information. It’s healthier to face your “devils” – the discomfort of confronting your feelings – rather than ignoring them.

Otherwise, you’ll encounter the “devil you don’t know,” which could be the problems that come from avoiding your feelings, like missed chances, lower self-confidence, or unhandled stress.

10. They See Problems as Chances to Learn

Emotionally smart people don’t see tough situations as impossible hurdles. Instead, they see them as opportunities to learn, grow, and get better.

This ability to reframe a problem comes from their growth mindset.

When they encounter a problem, they ask themselves, “What can I learn from this?” rather than “Why does this always happen to me?”

Instead of just reacting to the problem, they take time to think about their response and focus on finding a solution. Feeling sorry for themselves just wastes time.

Related: 10 reasons emotionally intelligent people have a hard time finding love

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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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