13 not-so-subtle signs someone lacks emotional intelligence

Everyone is valuable in their own way. And everyone also has their strengths and weaknesses. You might be the smartest person in the world, but if you lack emotional intelligence, good luck putting the world together.

So, what is emotional intelligence? Here’s a definition:

“Emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions so as to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions so as to promote emotional and intellectual growth.”

In other words, low EQ means low ability to deal with emotions in yourself or others.

So, if you’re wondering where you fit on the EQ spectrum, here are some more obvious signs that you need to work on this.

1) They have strong opinions on just about everything

Everyone has strong opinions on something, but most people know when to talk and when to stay quiet. Not the emotionally unintelligent delegation, though, and that’s why they earn an average of $29,000 less per year than those with high EQ scores.

Now, it’s not a bad thing to have strong opinions. But it is bad when you don’t know how to wield them appropriately.

Think of the uncle who starts Thanksgiving dinner not by thanking Jesus but complaining about Jesús taking all the jobs. Or the cousin who decided to have a public heart-to-heart argument with their spouse after three drinks at the wedding reception.

That’s a shining example of someone with low EQ. And it gets worse because low EQ people lack the following fundamental traits.

2) They have little to no self-awareness

Are you aware that you’re aware? If you’re a healthy, well-adjusted human, then you understand the impact of your actions, and that’s why you moderate your behavior. After all, we live in a society.

The problem with low-EQ people is that this button is missing from their control panels.

They are the people who announce their engagement in the middle of someone’s wedding. And, yes, they will grab the microphone at your gender reveal to announce their own pregnancy.

But don’t say anything, or you’ll incur their wrath, as illustrated below.

3) They are extremely judgmental

With their strong opinions, low EQ personalities bring a fresh helping of criticism and a bushel of judgment to the party.

By definition, low EQ people lack empathy. They’re unable to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, so any perceived failing will be under assault from the first second.

And it’s not a rare trait. According to one study, human empathy fell globally by 48% between 1979 and 2009.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only negative trait of people with low EQ. Here’s another not-so-subtle sign that you’re dealing with the emotional equivalent of Smaug the Dragon.

4) They are never wrong

Most people don’t mind admitting their faults or taking responsibility for their direction of travel. Why? Because being wrong isn’t the end of the world.

But low EQ people seldom admit fault because it injures their egos. Low EQ figures consider admitting fault to reflect poorly on them as a person.

It’s just like dealing with a politician amid their public dance routine. Whatever has happened, it’s never their fault. It could be a minister, secretary, or the baker’s candlestick maker. But the point remains that it has nothing to do with them.

Watch the news (any news), and it won’t take long to spot a whole host of low-EQ people.

5) They have invasive mood swings

Who are the hidden players manipulating the AIs revolution 4 13 not-so-subtle signs someone lacks emotional intelligence

Trials and tribulations are a part of life. So, being happy, excited, and content every day is unnatural. In fact, 9.7% of Americans reported a mood disorder in the past year, amounting to over 30 million people.

But what separates most people with low EQ personalities is the ability to control those moods. It’s that old lesson that if your wife chewed you out that morning, don’t go into the office and punch your boss in the face.

Pretty simple, right?

Not for those with low emotional intelligence. They will take their moods out on everybody around them because feeling is their reality. They don’t feel like they have to control themselves.

Unfortunately, that can also manifest itself in another toxic trait. Read on to learn more about it.

6) Their favorite topic of conversation is themselves

Arrogance and narcissism go hand-in-hand with emotionally unintelligent people. That’s often why they can be found talking about themselves to anyone who will listen.

I remember meeting a self-proclaimed rich person from Mauritius in Vietnam. He spent two hours discussing his “hot” wife, business dealings, and money. It’s weird because I never asked about any of those subjects.

Unsurprisingly, I ejected myself from the situation, and he ejected himself from the restaurant when the staff got sick of him.

But it’s all part of how these types approach the world. Here’s another same but different sign to watch out for.

7) They must be the center of attention

There’s always a time for your moment in the sun. But low EQ people believe they own the sun and it should always shine on them.

They lack empathy and don’t appreciate others or what they bring to the table. And that’s why these personalities tend to make a scene and steamroll others.

Take Jenna Maroney from 30 Rock. She manufactured her own public scandal because she was afraid of losing her relevancy and fame. Sadly, it worked. And that’s the modus operandi of the low-EQ operator.

8) They hold grudges

“Charles had once remarked that holding onto a resentment was like eating rat poison and waiting for the rat to die.” Anne Lamotte, Crooked Little Heart.

We’ve all heard the Buddhist quote about poison and revenge. It’s not actually a Buddhist quote. It came from Alcoholics Anonymous, but most would agree it’s true.

If not, then you might have low emotional intelligence. And that’s because low EQ people cannot see other perspectives. They have tunnel vision thinking, and so they only see vengeance when feeling slighted.

After all, nobody can injure their ego and get away with it!

9) They have no emotional control

Well, duh!

Someone with low EQ is likelier to respond to unpleasant situations and emotions in kind. When pressed, they might punch a hole in the drywall or suppress their emotions.

They do this because they can’t understand their emotions or why they are upset. So, they respond by regressing into the five-year-old versions of themselves.

10) They like to jump to conclusions

8 body language mistakes that make you seem aloof even when youre not 1 13 not-so-subtle signs someone lacks emotional intelligence

Low EQ people suffer from a disease with no cure. It’s the one where the brain has a five-second delay behind the mouth.

Jumping to conclusions is a sport where low EQ people will always win gold. This behavior arises from their distorted view of situations, which tends to end with them making dramatic, sweeping statements.

11) They easily offend others without knowing (or caring)

Everyone has slipped on the banana peel and committed a social faux pas. This is normal, and most people forgive and forget.

But that’s because you have high emotional intelligence and can laugh at your mistakes.

People with low EQ don’t hold themselves accountable and tend to raise their drawbridges when they come under fire. Moreover, this worsens the situation, and it’s not uncommon for them to double down.

It’s easy to see how low EQ behavior may be considered offensive, but here’s the paradox.

12) They are easily offended

Low emotional intelligence can be characterized as being offensive and utterly unaware of why someone might be upset.

But this blind spot works both ways. They struggle to understand why people are upset and cannot understand why they themselves are upset.

And that tends to lead to people lashing out. They don’t take a joke at their expense as a jape. They take it as a personal insult.

13) They struggle to form lasting relationships

Have you ever met someone who seems to have a different intimate partner every month?

It’s often not because they’re a pimp daddy but because they’re difficult to be around. Would you want a boyfriend/girlfriend who’s easily offended, strongly opinionated, and doesn’t care about your feelings?

If the answer is no, get to the back of the line. Low EQ personalities find it much harder to connect with others, and so usually leave a string of failed relationships in their wake.

Take one of my low EQ friends. He’s divorced four times and still runs a treadmill of failed short-term relationships while blaming all women. But what’s the only constant in this scenario? Him.

High EQ is learned, not given

Some people are born to have a way with people. But if you recognize any signs on this list in yourself, there’s no need to despair.

Emotional intelligence can be learned at any juncture in life, like learning how to change a tire or cook pasta. It just requires some honest self-reflection and an authentic desire to change.

Take it slowly and catch these negative personality traits and behaviors. Over time, you’ll be amazed at how people begin gravitating toward you.

Picture of Marcel Deer

Marcel Deer

Marcel is a journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur. When not obsessing over his man cave or the latest tech, he’s failing helplessly at training his obnoxious rescue dog ‘Boogies’.

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