People with low emotional intelligence display these 9 behaviors (without realizing it)

Emotional intelligence is a real game-changer. It’s the difference between reacting hastily and responding thoughtfully. But not everyone has a high EQ.

People with low emotional intelligence often display certain behaviors, completely oblivious to them.

These habits can impact their relationships, their decision-making abilities, and even their career progression. So, it’s crucial to know how to spot them.

Let’s dive into the 9 behaviors people with low emotional intelligence often exhibit, without even realizing they’re doing so.

1) Impulsive reactions

Ever noticed someone who jumps straight to conclusions without giving it a second thought? That’s a classic sign of low emotional intelligence.

People with low EQ often react impulsively to situations. They let their emotions take the driver’s seat, bypassing the rational thinking processes. It’s like they’re on autopilot, and not in a good way.

This impulsivity can lead to poor decision-making and strained relationships. Why? Because they react before fully understanding the situation or considering the feelings of others.

Emotional intelligence is all about recognizing and managing our emotions, and being aware of how they impact those around us.

So someone with low emotional intelligence might not even realize they’re being impulsive.

They just act as they feel right at that moment, without thinking about the potential consequences.

2) Difficulty in empathizing

I remember a time when I had a colleague who struggled to understand the feelings of others. Let’s call him ‘John’.

John was competent at his job, but when it came to understanding the emotions or perspectives of his peers, he fell short. For example, during team meetings, if someone shared a problem they were facing, John was quick to dismiss it as irrelevant if it didn’t directly affect him.

This lack of empathy made it challenging for him to build meaningful relationships within the team.

Not because he was a bad person, but because he just couldn’t grasp the importance of seeing things from another person’s perspective.

People with low emotional intelligence often have difficulty empathizing with others.

They struggle to put themselves in someone else’s shoes, and this can lead to misunderstandings and even conflict.

And the tricky part? They may not even realize they’re doing it.

3) Poor listening skills

In our fast-paced world, the art of truly listening is becoming rarer. Yet, it’s one of the most important skills for effective communication and understanding.

People with low emotional intelligence often exhibit poor listening skills. They might be physically present in a conversation, but their mind is elsewhere.

Their focus drifts to their own thoughts and responses rather than comprehending what the other person is saying.

Poor listeners are more likely to interrupt, miss non-verbal cues, and misinterpret messages.

This lack of active listening can lead to misunderstandings and can make the speaker feel unheard or invalidated.

Just like the other signs of low EQ, individuals demonstrating this behavior might not even realize they’re doing it.

They may simply think they’re part of a two-way conversation when in fact, they’re dominating it.

4) Struggling with change

Change is part of life. It’s inevitable and constant. But for some, adapting to change is a real struggle.

People with low emotional intelligence often find it hard to adjust to new situations or shifts in their environment.

They crave stability and predictability, and any deviation from the norm can cause them significant distress.

They may resist change, often reacting with fear or anger, rather than embracing it as an opportunity for growth.

This resistance can hold them back from personal development and can create conflict in their relationships and work environment.

It’s not that they’re necessarily stubborn or close-minded. They might just lack the emotional tools to cope with change, often without realizing it.

Their comfort zone is their safe haven, and stepping outside of it can feel incredibly daunting.

5) Overreacting to criticism

Nobody enjoys being criticized. But how we handle criticism can reveal a lot about our emotional intelligence.

Individuals with low emotional intelligence often overreact when they’re criticized. They instantly become defensive and may respond with anger or aggression.

Instead of considering the feedback as an opportunity for improvement, they perceive it as a personal attack.

Their reactions can escalate the situation, turning a constructive conversation into a heated argument.

This behavior hampers their personal growth because they’re shutting down the opportunity to learn and improve.

And more often than not, they’re completely unaware of their exaggerated reactions.

They might believe they’re simply standing up for themselves, not realizing their response could be disproportionate to the criticism received.

6) Difficulty expressing emotions

Emotions are a fundamental part of our human experience. They give color to our lives, and they help us connect with others on a deeper level.

However, for people with low emotional intelligence, expressing their feelings can be a real challenge.

They may struggle to put their emotions into words, leaving their feelings bottled up inside.

This inability to express themselves can lead to feelings of frustration and isolation.

They might feel misunderstood or disconnected from the people around them. It’s like they’re on an emotional island, unable to build a bridge to others.

The heartbreak of it all?

They often don’t realize their struggle with emotional expression.

They might think it’s normal to keep their feelings locked away, not understanding the importance of sharing their emotions with others.

7) Taking things personally

In my early twenties, I used to internalize everything. If a friend didn’t return my call, I immediately assumed they were avoiding me. If I didn’t get a promotion at work, I believed it was because I wasn’t good enough.

I now realize this was a sign of low emotional intelligence; I was taking things personally that weren’t personal at all.

People with low EQ often interpret neutral situations as negative. They see criticism where there isn’t any and perceive rejection in the smallest of actions.

This can lead to unnecessary stress, anxiety, and damage to relationships.

What’s challenging is that they often don’t realize they’re doing this.

They’re so caught up in their own emotions that they fail to see the bigger picture or different perspectives.

8) Lack of self-awareness

Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. It’s the ability to recognize and understand your own emotions and how they affect your thoughts and behavior.

However, people with low emotional intelligence often lack self-awareness.

They struggle to identify their emotions, which can lead to misunderstanding their own behavior.

They may not realize why they react in certain ways or understand the impact their actions have on others.

This lack of self-awareness can lead to poor decision-making, relationship conflicts, and even hinder their personal growth.

It’s like they’re navigating through life with a blindfold on, unaware of their emotional landscape and how it influences their journey.

9) Difficulty building strong relationships

At the heart of every meaningful relationship lies emotional connection.

It’s what bonds us, helps us understand each other, and fosters empathy.

People with low emotional intelligence often have difficulty building and maintaining strong relationships.

Their struggle to empathize, actively listen, or understand their own emotions can create barriers in their relationships.

They might find it hard to form deep, meaningful connections with others.

The sad truth is, they might not even recognize these difficulties. They may feel isolated or misunderstood, not realizing their low emotional intelligence could be the root cause.

Final thought: Emotional intelligence is learnable

Let’s remember, emotional intelligence isn’t an innate trait that you either have or you don’t.

It’s a spectrum, a set of skills that can be learned and improved over time.

Understanding these behaviors is the first step towards building higher emotional intelligence. If we can recognize these signs in ourselves or others, we can start to work on improving them.

The journey to higher emotional intelligence might not be easy, but it’s certainly worthwhile.

It’s about learning to navigate our emotions and those of others.

It’s about fostering stronger relationships, making better decisions, and ultimately leading a more fulfilling life.

And even if you identify with some of these behaviors, don’t be disheartened. Remember, self-awareness is the first step to growth.

As Carl Rogers, one of the most influential psychologists of the 20th century, said: “The curious paradox is that when I accept myself just as I am, then I can change.”

Did you like my article? Like me on Facebook to see more articles like this in your feed.

Picture of Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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.