9 signs you’re emotionally intelligent, according to psychology

Avatar by Lachlan Brown | May 31, 2024, 2:26 pm

Emotional intelligence is not about being “touchy-feely”. It’s about being smart with your feelings, making choices that fit well with the situation you’re in.

Psychology says that emotionally intelligent people demonstrate certain traits and behaviors. You might be one of them and not even realize it.

Being emotionally intelligent means understanding your emotions, managing them effectively, and using them to interact successfully with others.

Here are some signs to look out for; they could mean you’re more emotionally intelligent than you think.

Let’s get started.

1) You’re self-aware

The famous psychologist Carl Jung once said, “Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”

This is incredibly relevant when talking about self-awareness, a vital part of emotional intelligence.

People with high emotional intelligence really get themselves. They’re not just feeling their emotions; they’re understanding them. They know why they feel a certain way and what’s causing it.

This self-awareness is key because it lets them recognize when they’re stressed or under pressure.

It helps them figure out what makes them feel happy, sad, angry, or frustrated.

People who are self-aware also know their strengths and weaknesses.

They’re clued in on how their actions impact others. They can step back, look at themselves from the outside, and adjust how they behave.

And it’s not about being hard on themselves. It’s about being real and honest about what they can do and how they feel.

If you’re someone who often thinks about why you feel or act a certain way, it’s a good sign of emotional intelligence.

It’s not just about understanding your emotions; it’s also about managing them effectively, which leads us to our second sign…

2) You can manage your emotions effectively

A true sign of emotional intelligence is the ability to manage and control your emotions, even during stressful situations.

Let me share an example. A few years ago, I found myself in a rather tense meeting at work. Opinions clashed and tempers flared. Now, I could have easily allowed my emotions to get the better of me, but I didn’t.

Instead, I took a few moments to collect myself, taking deep breaths to calm my racing heart. I recognized that those feelings of anger were not going to contribute productively to the situation.

So instead of lashing out or shutting down, I chose to express my thoughts and feelings calmly and respectfully. I focused on the issue at hand rather than letting my emotions dictate my response.

This ability to manage my emotions helped diffuse the tension in the room and paved the way for a more constructive conversation.

If you’re able to control your emotions in a similar manner, especially during challenging times, it’s a solid indication of your emotional intelligence.

3) You’re empathetic

Carl Rogers, a renowned psychologist, once said, “We think we listen, but very rarely do we listen with real understanding, true empathy.”

This quote captures the essence of empathy, a crucial aspect of emotional intelligence.

Empathy is more than just recognizing what someone else is feeling.

It’s about genuinely connecting with their emotions, seeing things from their perspective, and feeling what they feel.

A fascinating example of empathy comes from a scientific study involving rats.

In this study, when a rat saw another rat trapped, it would tirelessly work to free its peer, even if it meant ignoring a tempting chocolate treat.

This shows that empathy is not just a human trait; it’s seen in many social animals and is a fundamental part of who we are.

Empathy in humans allows us to build deeper connections and truly understand those around us.

If you’re someone who naturally feels and shares the emotions of others, you’re displaying a key element of emotional intelligence.

4) You handle criticism well

No one enjoys criticism, but how you handle it can say a lot about your emotional intelligence.

Emotionally intelligent people see criticism as an opportunity to learn and improve.

They don’t take it personally or react defensively. Instead, they listen carefully to feedback, try to understand the other person’s perspective, and consider whether the criticism is fair and valid.

Handling criticism well means being able to separate the feedback from the person giving it, so you can assess its value objectively.

It also means being able to control your emotions in the moment, so you don’t react impulsively or defensively.

If you’re someone who can take criticism in stride, using it as a tool for self-improvement rather than a personal attack, you’re showing a high level of emotional intelligence.

5) You’re a good listener

Stephen R. Covey once said, “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

This insight highlights the true nature of good listening. It’s not just about hearing words; it’s about being completely present and engaged in what’s being said.

Those with high emotional intelligence are often excellent listeners. They don’t simply wait for their turn to speak.

Instead, they genuinely strive to understand the other person’s point of view.

This approach makes people feel heard and validated, fostering stronger and more genuine relationships.

Good listeners also avoid quick judgments or giving unsolicited advice.

They understand that sometimes, what people need most is simply a compassionate ear – someone who listens and empathizes with them.

If you find yourself truly paying attention when others speak, pondering their words, and responding considerately, you’re displaying a key aspect of emotional intelligence.

6) You’re not afraid of change

Change can be scary. It disrupts our sense of stability and comfort. But life is a constant evolution, and change is an integral part of it.

Emotionally intelligent people understand this. They don’t fear change; instead, they embrace it.

They see it as a part of life’s journey – an opportunity for growth and learning.

They are flexible and adaptable, able to navigate through the uncertainties that come with change.

But this doesn’t mean they are reckless or carefree.

They approach change thoughtfully, understanding the potential challenges and preparing themselves mentally and emotionally to face them.

If you’re someone who can embrace change with an open heart, recognizing it as an opportunity rather than a threat, you’re exhibiting a strong sign of emotional intelligence.

It shows a depth of understanding that life is full of ups and downs, and that resilience is born from adapting to these changes.

7) You know how to say “no”

Saying “no” can be incredibly difficult. We often feel obligated to please others, fearing the potential backlash or disappointment that might come from refusing a request.

I remember when I used to struggle with this. I would find myself overwhelmed, agreeing to commitments I didn’t have the time or energy for, simply because I didn’t want to let anyone down.

But over time, I’ve learned the importance of setting boundaries and respecting my own limits. I’ve realized that saying “no” is not a personal rejection; it’s simply an acknowledgment of my own needs and capacities.

If you’ve mastered the art of saying “no” when necessary, without feeling guilty or anxious, it’s a sign that you’re emotionally intelligent. It shows that you respect yourself and your time, and are able to prioritize your own well-being.

8) You’re curious about people

Emotionally intelligent people are genuinely interested in others. They’re naturally curious and eager to learn more about the people around them.

This curiosity extends beyond simple small talk. Emotionally intelligent people want to understand others on a deeper level. They ask thoughtful questions that show they’re genuinely interested in learning more.

This curiosity about others is what helps emotionally intelligent people build strong connections.

It shows others that they’re valued and respected, which naturally leads to more meaningful relationships.

9) You’re comfortable with who you are

Perhaps the most significant sign of emotional intelligence is being comfortable with who you are.

Emotionally intelligent people accept themselves, flaws and all. They understand they’re not perfect, and they don’t try to be.

They embrace their strengths and acknowledge their weaknesses.

They don’t let their shortcomings define them; instead, they see them as areas for growth.

Being comfortable with yourself means being authentic. It means honoring your values, standing up for what you believe in, and not being afraid to be different.

If you can look in the mirror and honestly say that you like the person staring back at you, it’s a strong testament to your emotional intelligence.

It shows that you’ve developed a healthy relationship with yourself, which is the foundation for forming healthy relationships with others.

Final thoughts: It’s a lifelong journey

Understanding and managing emotions is a lifelong journey, not a destination.

Emotional intelligence is deeply interwoven within our daily interactions, decisions, and experiences. It’s the silent guide that helps us navigate the complex world of human emotions, enhancing our relationships and improving our overall quality of life.

The signs of emotional intelligence we’ve discussed are not merely traits to be achieved; they are ongoing practices to be cultivated throughout our lives. They require consistent mindfulness, effort, and a genuine willingness to understand ourselves and others better.

Remember, emotional intelligence is not inherent; it’s learned. And just like any other skill, it can be developed with patience and practice.

So, whether you identify with all, some, or none of the signs discussed, know that you are capable of growing your emotional intelligence. Reflect on these signs, explore your emotional landscape, and take the steps necessary to cultivate this invaluable skill.

In the words of Daniel Goleman, psychologist and author renowned for his work on emotional intelligence: “In a very real sense we have two minds, one that thinks and one that feels. And the ‘feeling mind’ is every bit as important as the ‘thinking mind’.”

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