If someone displays these 5 behaviors, they probably lack emotional intelligence

Everyone knows someone who might be very bright and even hardworking but despite these commendable qualities they aren’t successful, says journalist Terence Moore

Why is that?

“Often it’s because of a lack of emotional intelligence.” 

Emotional intelligence (also referred to as EI) skills actually account for almost 90% of what distinguishes the most outstanding leaders from average ones, according to research studies.

Emotional intelligence has a way of holding us back in life. It also compels us to repeat negative patterns over and over again. It also pushes people away. 

Do you suspect that someone in your life lacks emotional intelligence? Do you secretly wonder if your own emotional intelligence isn’t where it needs to be for your life to level up?

Here are five behaviors of people that point to a lack of emotional intelligence. 

1) They have a habit of holding grudges—both big and small

One of my all-time favorite adolescent pastimes was indulging in the young adult book series, Anne of Green Gables. The late celebrated author Lucy Maud Montgomery is considered a Canadian treasure. 

Anyone who remembers the nineteenth century title character Anne Shirley—either from the books or the countless television and film adaptations–knows that she had an ample head of the reddest hair. 

Anne was a bit sensitive about her hair—to put it lightly. When classmate Gilbert Blythe called Anne “carrots” at school, she smashed a slate over his head. 

Gilbert tried over and over again to make amends. He even saved her once from drowning. But despite this, Anne held a grudge against him for years. 

Anne might have been an adolescent (and a fictional one at that), but many of us can also be accused of holding grudges that we can’t let go of—some that go back years and years. 

People with low emotional intelligence dwell on every wrong they imagine has been done to them, says Isabel Cabrera from The Expert Editor

“As if that’s not bad enough, their lack of empathy means that they also usually attribute the worst possible motivations to the people around them,” she says. 

“So if someone upset them, it’s not because they made a mistake or didn’t realize what they were doing. Instead, it must have been an attack.”

People with low EI can be resentful, bitter, and unforgiving, and this can negatively impact their lives. 

Sometimes we have every right to hold a grudge: perhaps someone has wronged us and there’s no way back from that. 

But as many therapists say, forgiveness is not about the other person. It’s about you.

“The process of forgiveness and the release of thoughts and feelings that have kept you tied to the past can be done without the other person’s participation,” says therapist Andrea Brandt

“Forgiveness allows you to let go of the resentments that eat up at your valuable energy.”

2) They think the world owes them something

Recently, I overheard a barista ask a customer how they were doing. The gentleman’s reply was a snarky, “Same sh*t, different day.”

I am always dismayed when I hear a person say this. Especially with everything that is going on in the world.

Whenever I hear this, I can’t help but think: Maybe that’s because your attitude is the same sh*t, even on a different day. 

I get that people have problems and sometimes it helps to vent a little—even if it’s to the poor barista who’s just trying to do her job and be friendly. 

But people who lack emotional intelligence tend to think that the world owes them something. There’s also a distinct lack of appreciation about what they have in life. 

Those who lack emotional intelligence can have a sense of entitlement, says Laura Angers Maddox from Better Help.

“Entitlement is a personality trait that is based on a person’s belief that they deserve privileges or recognition for things that they did not earn,” she says. 

“People experiencing this sense tend to believe that the world owes them something in exchange for nothing.”

Maddox indicates there are a number of reasons why someone might develop a sense of entitlement. 

“Some people believe that when children are given everything they ask for without learning how to earn those things, it causes them to expect the same treatment when they become adults,” she says. 

At the same time, Maddox says that those who have narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or antisocial personality disorder (ASPD) can also lead to a sense of entitlement. 

Maddox says that some ways to overcome entitlement is to stop comparing yourself to others and to focus on their own goals and dreams. 

“It may be important for someone with a sense of entitlement to learn not to be discouraged by temporary setbacks,” she says. “The feeling they get from accomplishing a goal on their own is likely going to be much greater than receiving something without investing any significant effort.”

An entitled person might also be encouraged from trying to see things from another person’s point of view. On the outside it might seem to them that someone else’s success came easy to them. But if you have a conversation with them you may be enlightened by the notion that things were much more difficult for them than you realized. 

They might also be dealing with things you had no idea about. 

“When someone has a sense of entitlement, they may benefit from treating others with respect, compassion, and gratitude,” says Maddox. “If they are genuinely kind to others and commit to acts of selflessness without expecting a favor in return, others may feel a desire to return the same goodness to them.”

pic1848 If someone displays these 5 behaviors, they probably lack emotional intelligence

3) They play the blame game 

People who are emotionally immature tend to go through life feeling offended. In other words, it’s always the other person’s fault. 

It’s very challenging to resolve a conflict with a person who has low to no emotional intelligence, says Jason Brien from Reforming Trauma Coaching

“No matter what the situation is, they will always find a way to blame someone else,” he says. “If they fail an exam, it’s not their fault they didn’t study enough—it’s their teacher’s fault for not teaching the ‘right’ material.”

Even if they get caught in a blatantly obvious lie, they will deflect and lay blame on the other person for calling them out and “causing drama for no reason,”

People with little emotional intelligence also have a pattern of burning bridges, says Brien. They “will rarely, if ever, apologize or say sorry because doing so means understanding that they were at fault.”

4) They tend to have toxic relationships 

While we all have our moments (or even phases) of selfishness, for a toxic person, it’s a way of life, says mental health expert Dr. John Deloney.

“A toxic relationship is one that has unhealthy dynamics and causes you distress or harm because you’re unsupported, manipulated, or disrespected,” he says.

Deloney compares dealing with a toxic person with being bitten by a vampire. “You find yourself serving someone at the expense of your own feelings, needs, and joy.”

He clarifies that service and sacrifice are part of a good relationship, as are challenges, disagreements, forgiveness, and discomfort.

“But a healthy relationship is mutually life-giving. The challenges and sacrifices ebb and flow toward connection and love.” 

We tend to think of a toxic relationship in relation to romance, but Deloney says the reality is that any relationship can become toxic: co-workers, in-laws, parents, siblings, and friends. 

5) They tend to go from one emotional extreme to another 

People with little to no emotional intelligence have a hard time getting hold of their emotions.

This is mostly because they lack both insight (such as triggers as we mentioned), and self-regulation skills, says Brien. 

“For example, something may happen externally (a trigger) which upsets/angers a person but because they lack self-regulation skills, their [behavior] continues to rise exponentially whereas a person with adequate to high emotional intelligence can reign in and half their [emotions] before they explode,” he says. 

“Emotionally volatile people can switch from happy and chatty one moment to extremely aggressive and violent without any apparent cause.”

Movie buffs have heard that Hollywood Ryan O’Neal’s work (Love Story; Peyton Place) just passed away on December 8 at the age of 82. 

In the past, his daughter, actress Tatum O’Neal has often opened up to the press about her difficult childhood and her father’s temper. 

In 2004, Tatum told NBC that her father’s jealousy (over her Oscar win at just ten years old in their film, Paper Moon), volatile behavior caused her insurmountable anxiety as a child. “Am I going to be loved today?” was a question she often asked herself. “It’s hard to grow up like that.”

How can we work to expand our emotional intelligence?

Elizabeth Perry from BetterUp says there are a number of ways. 

The first is to develop a growth mindset. This means focusing on on-going self-improvement and growth instead of nitpicking about failures and shortcomings. 

It’s also vital to understand your emotions, says Perry. 

“When you understand what makes you angry, sad, or excited, you can use that to your advantage instead of retaliating at the first hint of negativity. Ask yourself what makes you mad or uncomfortable and why.”

It’s also imperative to own your mistakes. 

Perry advises that the next time you make a mistake, apologize without making excuses. Try to view each mistake as a learning opportunity to expand your skills and learn more about yourself




Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur

Wendy Kaur is a Toronto-based journalist whose work has been published by The Globe & Mail, ELLE USA, ELLE Canada, British Vogue, Town & Country, and others.

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