People with high emotional intelligence often share these 9 habits

by Brendan Brown | April 25, 2024, 8:23 pm

In today’s world, having high emotional intelligence is quite possibly one of the best traits you can have.

By definition, emotional intelligence means you can understand the emotions of others and regulate your own emotions in turn.

With this trait, you can get ahead in your career, build more meaningful friendships, and maintain happier romantic relationships.

A study even found that some people feel happier and healthier the more emotional intelligence they have.

But how do you know if you have high emotional intelligence? Your habits probably give you away!

Keep reading to learn the top 9 habits people with high emotional intelligence share.

1. Noticing when something isn’t right with someone

Something people with high emotional intelligence always do is notice the little changes in people’s behavior.

Like if your friend smiled slightly differently when you cracked a joke yesterday. Or if they were not as upbeat in their text messages as they normally are.

Noticing the subtle differences in how people behave is a sign of high emotional intelligence.

It means you can spot when something isn’t quite right with a friend, colleague, partner, etc.

And you can pre-empt the situation by asking them if something is wrong or apologizing upfront if something you said overstepped the mark.

2. Overthinking (but very slightly)

Having high emotional intelligence is often associated with having an analytical mind.

Being an overthinker can be coined as a bad thing. But it can actually be a pretty positive trait in some people.

As a bit of an overthinker myself, I know there are many times my overthinking brain has figured something out and helped me get ahead.

It’s even helped me plan my career better. Like when planning meetings, pitching ideas, and mapping out goals.

Don’t get me wrong, there are certain times when overthinking can be a bad habit.

Especially when delving into past mistakes or trying to over-analyze someone’s behavior (when you’ll never really know what they were thinking unless you ask!).

But other times, it can be a sign of high emotional intelligence that helps you process and learn from the world around you to get ahead in life.

Related: 8 things emotionally intelligent people never do in relationships

3. Talking about your feelings and emotions

Expressing your emotions isn’t always an easy thing to do.

But it’s something that comes relatively naturally to people with high emotional intelligence.

This is because it’s easy to talk about how you feel when you understand how you feel.

And people with high emotional intelligence almost always know how they feel about things!

Being able to express your thoughts and emotions can greatly benefit your relationships – especially romantic ones.

It’s part and parcel of having good communication, which is the foundation for success and happiness in relationships.

4. Acting thoughtfully toward the people you know and/or love

When you’re emotionally intelligent, you’re more mindful of other people’s feelings.

You take time to think about what they’re going through and how they might interpret the things you say because of their own experiences.

For example, you wouldn’t rant for 20 minutes about how annoying your mum is to a friend whose mum recently passed away.

Or you wouldn’t call someone stupid for investing in a property if the person you’re speaking to already told you they lost money on a property recently.

Instead, you think about how the things you say might affect the people you’re speaking to, and try your best to avoid upsetting them.

This applies to people you care about (like friends, family, and partners) as well as people you don’t know so well (like colleagues or friends of friends).

5. Holding back on expressing some opinions in the company of others

Another habit of emotionally intelligent people is holding back on sharing some opinions when you know they may not be well-received by everyone.

There’s nothing wrong with having an opinion on something.

But, as the popular saying goes, opinions aren’t facts! And many people won’t share the same views as you.

If you’re emotionally intelligent, you know how to read the room and hold back on sharing some of your opinions in the company of others.

This especially applies in work settings or when meeting new people (like the family of someone you’re dating).

This doesn’t mean you’re ashamed of your opinions. But you know they may not be the best thing for your manager or potential Father-in-Law to hear about you.  

6. Planning ahead for everything and never running late

If you have high emotional intelligence, you’re probably the friend in the group chat who’s always organizing everything, or asking questions to ensure things run smoothly.

Or you’re the colleague whose always on time to work, with all the pre-reading done and papers ready to go.

Poor planning isn’t usually a trait found in people who are natural analytical thinkers.

Because they think things through and consider all possibilities, they’re usually excellent planners and can easily keep track of time.

They plan, plan, and plan some more.

Because they know and understand the consequences of being late. Not just with work or when attending an event, but also on other people.

For example, when you’re consistently late to work, it can impact how highly your boss sees you and whether you have a good chance of getting the next promotion.

Or if you’re late to a pre-booked event or restaurant, you know that you can probably lose your table/timeslot, and either miss out or lose money.

And when you’re late to meeting people, you know that it doesn’t make them feel good – mostly because it probably doesn’t make you feel good when people are late meeting you!

It can make them feel like their time isn’t as important or valuable as yours, and you know you can lose friendships over it.

7. Maintaining eye contact when you’re speaking and others are speaking

People with high emotional intelligence have good social skills.

This is usually because they understand people, can empathize with them, and know how to communicate well.

If you have emotional intelligence, you can probably maintain eye contact very well – and feel very comfortable doing so.

When someone is speaking to you, you know how to show them you’re listening – by turning your body towards them, nodding occasionally, and maintaining eye contact.

Likewise, when you’re speaking, you don’t gaze off into the distance like you’re disinterested in them, the topic of conversation, or are nervous.

Instead, you hold eye contact – even if they don’t.

Related: Stay single until you find a man with these 13 traits

8. Looking after your mind, body, and soul

People with high emotional intelligence know that the most important thing they have is themselves.

You only get one mind and body, and it’s important to look after it if you want to achieve the best in life.

When you know yourself and your mind, you can spot when your tank is almost empty and you need a break.

Likewise, you can sense when you’re feeling restless and need to get something out of your system.

And you know that listening to what your mind and body needs means you can live a happier life, respond better to challenges around you, and build more positive relationships.

9. Reading fictional books and stories often

Many studies have found that reading helps build your developmental skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy levels.

This is because reading fiction transports you into the mind of someone else – sometimes someone who’s of a completely different race, gender, or nationality as you, and lets you see things from their perspective.

In turn, this helps you better understand people and their emotions (including even your own).

It also helps you develop more of an open mind and a different perspective on things, as you get to see things from someone else’s point of view.

So, it makes sense that the more you read, the higher your emotional intelligence will probably be.

Final thoughts

Having high emotional intelligence can be something that comes naturally to some people.

But for others, it’s a skill set that needs to be acquired and strengthen regularly (according to experts).

Building your emotional intelligence is something you can do over time if you want to feel more connected to people and get ahead in life.

Practicing these habits and taking time to reflect on your behavior are the best ways to strengthen your empathy levels and obtain better emotional intelligence.

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