People with high emotional intelligence often do these 9 things

It’s been close to three decades since psychologist Daniel Goleman popularized ‘emotional intelligence’ phenomenon.

Since then, emotional intelligence, defined as the ability to understand and manage one’s emotions, has taken the world by a storm.

From academic debates to company boardrooms, emotional intelligence has become a buzzword in navigating social issues, understanding human behavior and informing decision-making.

The big question remains:

How do you tell a person has high emotional intelligence? I answer this question by sharing with you things people with high emotional intelligence often do. 

Let’s take a plunge:

1) They regularly unplug from the world

People with high emotional intelligence are conscious that staying connected 24/7 can lead to stress, anxiety and other negative emotions, which can affect their wellbeing.

For this reason, they make it a habit to regularly unplug from the hustle and bustle of the world. With studies showing that simply taking an email break can reduce stress levels, who can blame them?

Here is what unplugging looks like for emotionally intelligent people:

  • Avoiding regular email checks
  • Logging off social media
  • Taking regular breaks from work
  • Leaving gadgets out of the bedroom
  • Turning off Wi-Fi
  • Going for nature walks and solo drives

Inculcating these habits can be difficult for most people, but like myself, you can always start small and make it routine.

2) They are in control of their thought process

Like everybody else, people with high emotional intelligence don’t really have much influence over their feelings at any given time.

What sets these people apart?

Unlike other people who will let their emotions drive them, people with high emotional intelligence know how to manage their thought process.

Remember the story of the bird that lands on someone’s head? Land it will, but you can ensure it doesn’t make a nest atop your head.

Taking control of their thoughts is a stepping stone these exceptional people use to manage their emotions.

3) They take criticism in their stride

Handling criticism isn’t just for the thick-skinned, but it’s also a routine trait for people with high emotional intelligence.

Most people don’t like negative feedback. However, for people with high emotional intelligence, criticism presents yet another opportunity to learn and grow.

When they receive constructive feedback, these people typically retrace their steps and do better next time. If they receive unfair or destructive feedback, it’s also an opportunity to learn how others think.

Either way, it’s a win-win for them.

4) They are empathetic

Have you met a stranger on the streets who offered to cover you with their brolly? Highly likely, their emotional intelligence is soaring.

Empathy is one of the most important entryways to having a high EQ.

People with high emotional intelligence have the ability to wear other people’s shoe to know where it pinches.

This ability to understand other people’s feelings and thoughts enables them to effortlessly connect with others at a deeper level. Be it at home, the workplace, or even on the streets.

Since they know other people’s pains and pleasures, they are also less judgmental.

5) They readily apologize

People with high emotional intelligence recognize when they are in the wrong.

Just like they are empathetic, they are also quick to apologize whenever wrong. This makes them a magnet for drawing others to them.

Who would mind their company, anyway?

Curiously, they may not always be wrong, but apologizing is their way of showing how much they value interpersonal relationships.

Make no mistake, however. Their contrite nature shouldn’t be misconstrued for low self-esteem. It’s just that their fortitude and humility trumps everything else.

6) They’re curious about people and things

Regardless of their personality type, emotionally intelligent people are innately curious about people around them since they care about them. Remember empathy?

They aren’t curious about people alone, but also about the world around them.

They find simplistic explanations unsatisfying, which makes them ardent readers and learners.

Emotionally intelligent people also probe deeply into a problem by asking insightful questions. They spend a lot of their time exploring a new interest, or disassembling objects just to understand how they operate.

When I learned about this trait, I stopped minding about my son’s tendency to disassemble every electronic he laid his hands on. Maybe he is a cut above the rest. Who knows?

7) They let go of grudges

The unpleasant feeling that comes along with harboring resentment is basically a stress reaction.

Your body triggers a defense mechanism that makes you either fight or flight.

People with emotional intelligence understand that hanging onto grudges means latching onto stress.

Researchers at Emory University have demonstrated that holding onto stress increases the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease.

For people with high emotional intelligence, this might be the least of their worries.

8) They don’t pursue perfection, just improvement

Being emotionally intelligent might be misconstrued to mean dyed-in-the wool perfectionists!

Nothing could be further from the truth:

Since they understand that perfection is utopic, people with emotional intelligence hardly establish infallibility as their goal.

These people understand that when you aim for perfection, you’ll always be left with an enduring sense of failure because by nature, human is infallible.

Instead, emotionally intelligent people give their best while knowing too well there is always room for improvement. They recognize that the journey to better themselves is an everyday endeavor.

9) They don’t entertain negativity

Negativity begets more negativity. Our most pessimistic thoughts are not fueled by actual events, but by our thoughts.

No one understands this better than an emotionally intelligent person.

They understand the human brain is prone to exaggerate the gravity of a threat, even when the likelihood of occurrence is negligible.

For this reason, people with high emotional intelligence can distinguish between reality and mere thoughts.

This stance enables them to keep away negativity and adopt a fresh, upbeat perspective.

Final thoughts

There you have it! The telltale signs and things people with high emotional intelligence often do. On a scale of 1-10, how would you rate your emotional intelligence quotient?

Regardless of your score, there are different ways you can improve your emotional intelligence. These include:

  • Managing negative thoughts
  • Identifying your stressors
  • Being more empathetic
  • Being responsible for your own feelings
  • Celebrating the positives

Finally, keep in mind that emotional intelligence is a skill you develop for a lifetime. Get in, you are not too late to the party!

Picture of Martha Croissy

Martha Croissy

Martha is a freelance writer specializing in positive psychology, self-help, and personal development topics. When not hitting the keyboard, Martha loves cooking and traveling. Email: LinkedIn:

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