14 behaviors that reveal someone’s true level of emotional intelligence

by Lachlan Brown | April 13, 2024, 11:51 am

Ever wonder what makes some people really good at understanding feelings – their own and others’?

That’s called emotional intelligence. It’s not just about being nice, it’s about knowing what you’re feeling, why you’re feeling it, and how those feelings can affect other people.

It’s pretty important for making friends, doing well at work, and generally being happy.

So how can you tell if someone’s really good at this emotional intelligence thing?

Here are 14 things to look out for:

1. Empathy

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.”

Well, if you’re truly emotionally intelligent, you don’t just understand this concept – you live it.

When someone shares their worries or stories with you, do you really feel what they’re going through? Or are you just nodding along while mentally planning your dinner?

If it’s the former, that’s empathy at play.

Being able to empathize means more than just offering a sympathetic ear.

It means truly understanding and emotionally connecting with others’ experiences.

It means feeling their joy during their triumphs and sharing their pain during hardships.

So next time your friend is pouring their heart out about their latest life drama, don’t just listen – try to really feel what they’re feeling.

If you can do that, then congratulations! You’ve taken a huge step towards emotional intelligence.

But if not, don’t beat yourself up. Empathy, like any other skill, takes practice. So keep trying, and remember – it’s not just about understanding…it’s about feeling too.

2. Self-awareness

Are you someone who understands your strengths and weaknesses? Can you recognize why you feel a certain way and how these feelings might change your behavior?

If so, give yourself a pat on the back because that’s self-awareness, and it’s a big part of emotional intelligence.

Imagine this: You’ve had a rough day at work, and your mood is off.

You come home, and your partner says something that usually wouldn’t bother you, but today, it just gets under your skin.

Do you snap back, or do you understand that your reaction is more about your bad day than what your partner said?

If you chose the latter, that’s self-awareness in action!

It means understanding that your emotions are temporary and don’t define you. It means knowing when to take a step back and breathe before reacting.

But what if you snapped back without thinking? Well, don’t worry – we’re all human!

The good news is self-awareness is something we can all work on.

So next time you’re in a foul mood, take a moment to understand why you’re feeling the way you are.

Recognize it, accept it, and remember – it’s okay to have bad days. What matters is how we react to them. 

3. Emotional Control

Balancing our emotions can sometimes feel like walking a tightrope.

Swinging too far in any direction can lead to chaos. I’ve certainly had my own experiences with this.

I remember a time when I was working on a group project at work.

We’d been putting in long hours, and tensions were high.

One day, a colleague – let’s call him Mark – made a minor mistake that set us back a bit.

I was tired and frustrated, and my immediate reaction was anger. I wanted to lash out at Mark for his carelessness.

But then I remembered: it’s not about suppressing emotions, it’s about managing them.

So instead of letting my anger control me, I took a few deep breaths and counted to ten in my mind.

By the time I reached ten, I felt calmer and more in control.

I addressed Mark’s mistake in a composed manner, explaining how his oversight had affected the team without letting my anger seep into my words.

Mark apologized and promised to be more careful in the future. We moved forward without any hard feelings.

That’s emotional control – recognizing your emotions but not letting them dictate your actions.

It might seem difficult at first, but trust me, with practice, you’ll get better at managing your emotions. And that’s a sure sign of emotional intelligence!

4. Adaptability

Change is the only constant in life. That’s not just a philosophical statement; it’s a fact.

But did you know that our ability to adapt to change is actually hardwired into our brains?

Our brains have a unique characteristic known as neuroplasticity. This means they can change and adapt based on our experiences.

It’s why we can learn new skills, form new habits, and yes, become more adaptable.

So, how does this relate to emotional intelligence? Well, emotionally intelligent people are like chameleons.

They adjust to changes in their environment without getting too stressed or overwhelmed.

They view change as an opportunity for growth rather than a threat.

Whether it’s moving to a new city, starting a new job, or adapting to a new routine, emotionally intelligent people embrace change with open arms.

They understand that change is inevitable and that flexibility is key to navigating life’s ups and downs.

So remember, the next time you’re faced with a major change, don’t fret!

Your brain is built to adapt. Embrace the change, learn from the experience, and watch your emotional intelligence soar!

5. Assertiveness

This isn’t about being the loudest voice in the room or having the final say.

It’s about expressing your feelings, thoughts, and needs in a respectful way.

It’s about standing up for yourself without stepping on others.

Picture this: You’re at a family gathering, and your aunt, bless her heart, is badgering you about when you’re going to settle down and start a family.

You’re not ready for that step yet, and her constant questioning is making you uncomfortable.

So, what do you do?

If you’re emotionally intelligent, you assert yourself. You don’t snap or get defensive. Instead, you calmly express how you feel.

You might say something like, “Auntie, I appreciate your concern, but I’m focusing on my career right now. I’ll start a family when I feel ready.”

Being assertive isn’t easy. It takes courage to express your feelings and stand up for your beliefs, especially when others might not agree.

But remember – your feelings matter. Your needs are important. And it’s okay to express them in a respectful manner.

6. Curiosity

Do you remember when you were a kid and every little thing sparked your interest?

As kids, we were naturally curious about everything around us.

Growing up, some of us managed to keep that curiosity alive, while others let it fade. I’d like to think I fall into the former category.

I’ve always been a curious person. Even as a child, I would bombard my parents with questions:

Why is the sky blue? How does the TV work? Where does the sun go at night?

As I grew older, my questions evolved but my curiosity remained the same.

Now, my curiosity extends to people. When I meet someone new, I’m genuinely interested in getting to know them.

Not just their name or what they do for a living, but their stories, their experiences, their views on life.

It’s not just about being polite or making conversation; it’s about understanding their perspective and learning from them.

So why does curiosity matter in emotional intelligence?

Well, being curious about others helps us understand them better.

It helps us form deeper connections. It fosters empathy and understanding.

So let your inner child out and channel that innate curiosity!

Ask questions, seek answers, explore different perspectives.

Trust me – your emotional intelligence will thank you!

7. Analyzing Emotions

It’s not enough to simply feel emotions – you’ve got to understand them, too.

That means picking apart what you’re feeling and why, and doing the same for others. Sounds exhausting, right? Well, it can be. But it’s also incredibly important.

Let’s say your best friend snaps at you out of nowhere. Your immediate reaction might be to get defensive or upset.

But if you’re emotionally intelligent, you stop and think: “Wait a second. This isn’t like them. What’s really going on here?”

So instead of snapping back, you ask if everything’s okay.

Turns out, they just lost their job and they’re stressed out.

Understanding the emotions at play allows you to respond with empathy and support instead of escalating the situation.

Now, let’s not sugarcoat it – analyzing emotions isn’t always fun. It can be complex and messy.

You might uncover feelings you’d rather not deal with or learn things about others that complicate the way you see them.

Emotions are a part of life. They influence our actions, our relationships, and our wellbeing.

The better we understand them – in ourselves and others – the better we can navigate life.

It might not be pretty, but it’s worth it – that’s what emotional intelligence is all about!

8. The Ability to Judge Character

Have you ever met someone and instantly felt like something was off?

Or maybe you felt an immediate connection, like you’ve known them for years?

That’s your intuition at work, and it’s a crucial part of emotional intelligence.

Within seconds of meeting someone, our brains make a thousand computations to assess the other person’s intentions.

This rapid-fire judgment is often surprisingly accurate.

It’s how we form first impressions, and it plays a significant role in our ability to judge character.

Emotionally intelligent people are often good at ‘reading’ others.

They can pick up on subtle cues – a shift in tone, a fleeting expression, or a certain body language – to understand what others are feeling or thinking.

They use this understanding to navigate social interactions more effectively.

Now, this doesn’t mean they’re mind readers or that they always get it right.

But it does mean they’re more attuned to people’s emotions and motivations.

9. Conflict resolution

We’ve all been there – caught in the middle of a heated argument, emotions running high, voices raised.

Resolving conflicts is a part of life, but how we do it can reveal a lot about our emotional intelligence.

A while back, I had a disagreement with my roommate over household chores.

I felt like I was doing more than my fair share, and it was causing tension between us.

Instead of letting my frustration build up, I decided to address the issue head-on.

I didn’t storm in and start blaming her. Instead, I took some time to cool down and think about what I wanted to say.

When we sat down to talk, I explained how I felt without attacking her or making her feel defensive.

I listened to her side of the story and understood where she was coming from.

In the end, we agreed on a more balanced chore schedule that worked for both of us.

It wasn’t easy, and it required patience and understanding from both sides.

But by resolving the conflict in a respectful way, we managed to strengthen our relationship rather than damage it.

That’s what conflict resolution is all about – not winning or losing, but finding a solution that respects everyone’s feelings.

So when conflicts arise – and they will – remember to approach them with empathy and understanding.

It might be challenging, but it’s worth it – for your relationships and your emotional intelligence!

10. Positive Outlook

Life isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. We all have bad days and face challenges.

But emotionally intelligent people manage to find the silver lining even in tough times.

No, they’re not delusional. They’re simply choosing to focus on the good rather than dwelling on the bad.

But let’s be real – maintaining a positive outlook isn’t always easy. It can feel like a struggle, especially when you’re knee-deep in problems.

Your perspective shapes your reality.

A positive mindset can make challenging situations feel more manageable and can open your eyes to new solutions.

11. Knowing How to Say No

This isn’t about being stubborn or uncooperative. It’s about setting boundaries and respecting your own needs.

Many of us struggle with this. We say yes when we want to say no, then we end up overwhelmed and stressed out.

Not everyone will respect your boundaries unless you enforce them.

Saying no can be uncomfortable, but it’s necessary for your mental health and wellbeing.

12. Active Listening

We all know that one person who nods along as you’re talking but is clearly miles away.

Don’t be that person. Active listening isn’t just about hearing words; it’s about understanding the emotions and messages behind them.

Now, let’s get real – active listening takes effort.

It requires concentration and genuine interest in what the other person is saying.

But trust me, people notice when you listen actively, and it makes a significant difference in how they perceive you.

13. Accepting Criticism

Nobody likes being told they’re wrong. It stings, and our first instinct is often to get defensive or dismissive.

But emotionally intelligent people view criticism as a chance to grow, not as an attack.

Let’s be brutally honest – accepting criticism is hard. It takes a lot of humility and open-mindedness.

But remember, nobody’s perfect. We all have room to grow and learn, and sometimes, criticism is the push we need to become better.

14. Forgiveness

Holding grudges is easy. Forgiving isn’t. It requires you to let go of your anger and resentment, which can be really hard.

But emotionally intelligent people understand that forgiveness is more for themselves than for the other person.

Here’s the raw truth: Holding onto anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to get sick.

It only harms you in the end. So even though forgiving can be tough, it’s an essential step towards healing and emotional growth.

Remember, emotional intelligence isn’t about being perfect.

It’s about understanding your emotions and those of others, and using that understanding to navigate life’s ups and downs. So keep it real, keep it honest, and keep growing!

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