If you’re guilty of these 6 behaviors, you might lack emotional intelligence

Do positive relationships seem to elude you?

Do others describe you as “insensitive?”

Do you find introspection to be a waste of time?

Then this article is probably for you.

See, people with high emotional intelligence navigate relationships with more ease and have a better chance of connecting with others.

A lack of self-awareness and people skills, on the other hand, can wreak havoc on your social life.

If you’re guilty of these 6 behaviors, you might lack emotional intelligence.

Perhaps it’s something you can work on?

1) You can’t pinpoint how you feel

Low emotional intelligence makes you struggle with identifying and understanding your emotions.

Unfortunately, this ends up having a significant impact on both your well-being and your interactions with others.

You may experience some or all of the following:

  • You can’t recognize the specific emotions you are feeling
  • You don’t have the right words to describe what you’re feeling
  • You don’t understand the underlying reasons for your emotions
  • You suppress or ignore your emotions
  • You have difficulty distinguishing between similar emotions

According to psychology, causes for low emotional intelligence vary from genetics to your parents being too authoritative to underlying mental conditions.

It’s not an exact science, so it’s up to you to look inward and figure out what might have shaped your emotional development.

Ironically, that can be challenging, given that being reflective is not your strong suit.

Trouble is, paying little attention to what’s going on inside can make you lash out at a moment’s notice.

Which brings me to the next point on the list.

2) You are prone to emotional outbursts

People with low emotional intelligence aren’t the best at regulating their emotions, which can lead to unexpected outbursts.

While I like to fancy myself as being in tune with my feelings and thoughts, there’s one particular emotion I struggle with.


I’m a recovering people pleaser, and I’ve been doing my best to mitigate others for most of my life. My default state is to be pleasant and polite.

Growing up, whenever someone crossed me, I used to suppress my anger to keep the peace.

As an adult, letting it out continues to feel like a foreign concept.

I still have trouble identifying it, and its intensity takes me by surprise every time. When I can no longer push it down, I usually release it by crying.

I’m working on expressing my anger in healthier ways – exercise has been, so far, the most helpful – but it’s a work in progress.

If you have low emotional intelligence, you probably struggle with managing most emotions, from anger to frustration to enthusiasm.

You may also fail to identify emotional triggers and lack healthy coping mechanisms for dealing with negative emotions.

Consequently, you’ve been repeatedly told that your behavior is “a lot:”

  • You react explosively when confronted with criticism or stress
  • You become angry for no apparent reason
  • You yell during arguments rather than express concerns calmly
  • You slam doors or break stuff to express frustration
  • You lash out at others or make hurtful comments when they don’t deserve it

These examples are generalizations, but you get the idea.

3) You find it hard to adapt to change

Adapting to change involves a certain level of flexibility, resilience, and emotional regulation.

These are things people who lack emotional intelligence don’t exactly excel at.

Changing means facing the unknown, so it requires you to anticipate and manage the emotions associated with unfamiliar situations.

Not only that, but it’s stressful, and handling stress is a handful for those who can’t recognize it or develop adequate coping strategies.

Long story short, people with low emotional intelligence might avoid change at all costs.

The result?


Change is the only constant in life, and navigating it effectively helps you develop problem-solving skills and grow in surprising ways.

Resisting it, meanwhile, keeps you stuck in your comfort zone.

The space might feel cozy, but it becomes suffocating after a while.

Oh, and if rumors are to be believed, it’s not where the magic happens.  

4) You have difficulty empathizing with others

people who lack emotional intelligence phrases If you're guilty of these 6 behaviors, you might lack emotional intelligence

Besides being unable to recognize and regulate their emotions, people who lack emotional intelligence can’t always empathize with others.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

You might fail to console others in their time of need or even fail to realize that someone is obviously going through something.

Without a keen understanding of the emotional nuances in a given situation, you are prone to inadvertently say things that come across as insensitive, dismissive, or hurtful.

Regrettably, this can prevent you from developing meaningful, long-term relationships with others.

I’m not the biggest people person out there. I’m an introvert who doesn’t particularly enjoy leaving the house.

But if there’s something I’ve learned over the years, it’s that our close circle plays a huge role in sustaining us.

Surrounding yourself with people who love and support you is imperative for your happiness and makes a remarkable difference in the long run.

Your tribe picks you up when you are at your lowest, motivates you to go after your goals, listens to you vent when life becomes unbearable, and lends a helping hand when things get overwhelming.

The catch?

You need to be able to reciprocate.

5) You ignore non-verbal cues

On a similar note, if you can’t pick up non-verbal cues from others, you might lack emotional intelligence.

A sudden shift in body language can speak volumes about a person’s state of mind.

Fail to notice it, and you end up saying something hurtful or inappropriate, as discussed above.

Non-verbal cues play a crucial role in understanding others’ state of mind, providing valuable information about their feelings and well-being.

These cues include facial expression, posture, tone, and so on.

A few examples:

  • Pronounced and agitated gestures, like hand-wringing or covering the face, may accompany distress
  • Tense or defensive postures, like crossing arms or leaning away, may signal discomfort
  • A subdued or flat tone, with a slower pace of speech, may accompany feelings of sadness
  • Avoiding eye contact can signal unease

These non-verbal cues are subtle, but you can learn to interpret them if you pay extra close attention to those around.

Practice makes perfect.

6) You rarely take responsibility for your actions

Finally, individuals with low emotional intelligence struggle to take responsibility.

Their lack of self-awareness can extend to their actions, making it challenging for them to acknowledge the impact of their behavior.

As they can’t fully grasp how they affect others, they can also fail to realize they played a part in upsetting another person.

Moreover, when faced with criticism or feedback, they become defensive.

Rather than reflect on their actions, they deflect blame onto external factors.

Circumstances. Other people. Their environment. The list goes on.

Failing to take responsibility for your decisions or mistakes is another factor that hinders growth, keeping you stuck in a vicious circle of bad behavior.

You’re less likely to address your shortcomings if you can’t recognize them.

Plus, by failing to take accountability, you push people away.

You’re making them feel as though their concerns are dismissed or invalidated.

They’ll soon start to question your reliability, leading to a breakdown in trust.

Bottom line

Emotional intelligence isn’t something you’re born with.

You can grow it over time.

Keep an open mind, practice active listening, and try to put yourself in others’ shoes.

Additionally, there’s plenty of relevant literature you can peruse, and a mental health professional can provide much-needed support as you embark on this journey of personal development.  

Having someone in your corner is both smart and comforting.  

Picture of Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Plesa

Alexandra Pleșa is a freelance writer obsessed with television, self-development, and thriller books. Former journalist, current pop culture junkie. Follow her on Twitter: @alexandraplesa

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.