8 phrases only emotionally intelligent people use, according to psychology

Emotional intelligence. A term that’s been thrown all around the internet for years and that’s become a bit of a buzzword in the self-development community.

Look, it may be overused; it may be cliché; you might be tired of hearing it all the damn time.

But the truth is that emotional intelligence remains one of the most important aspects of the human experience – especially where relationships are concerned – and that to plenty of people, it is a pretty new concept that deserves to be explained in-depth.

No matter if you’ve dived into the ins and outs of emotional intelligence before or if you’re a newcomer (welcome!), you’ll want to hear this one.

Here are the 8 phrases only emotionally intelligent people use.

1) “I made a mistake and I’m sincerely sorry”

This first one sounds like common sense, right?

Except many people actually get it wrong.

As consultant and mental health expert Steven Stosny, Ph.D. says, “Many people think they’re apologizing when they’re coming off as appeasing or patronizing or dismissive.”

They might say they’re sorry you’re upset (shifting the blame), they may apologize in a dismissive tone of voice (“Look, I’m sorry, okay? Now let it go”) or they could even explain their behavior without explicitly saying sorry and later on say they’ve already apologized (when they, in fact, haven’t).

Stosny highlights that a proper apology should never:

  • Be tempered by excuses
  • Have an element of blame
  • Seek immediate forgiveness

An emotionally intelligent person apologizes by acknowledging they have made a mistake, taking accountability for their actions, and taking active steps not to repeat the same patterns in the future.

2) “I appreciate you”

When was the last time you told your best friend you appreciated having them in your life?

For many of us, friendships are a bit of a given. While we might compliment our romantic partners or tell our parents we love them, we might withhold the same kind of affection when it comes to friends.

People with high EQ try their best to pour the same kind of love into all their relationships, no matter if they’re built on romance or friendship. And a huge part of that is expressing gratitude.

Don’t believe me? Ask psychologists.

Chelom E. Leavitt, J.D., Ph.D., for example, says: “Grateful people enhance the positive emotion within relationships and minimize the toxic negative emotion. Because gratitude creates more stress resistance and nurtures a higher sense of self-worth, individuals who are consistently grateful create positive environments within their relationships.”

She stresses this encompasses all relationships, not just romantic ones.

So, go ahead and tell your friend how much their friendship means to you. A few words of gratitude can go a long way.

3) “Do you want empathy or strategy?”

In her book Set Boundaries, Find Peace: A Guide to Reclaiming Yourself, therapist Nedra Glover Tawwab mentions that when someone we love is feeling down or venting about a certain issue, a great approach is to ask them, “Do you want empathy or strategy right now?”

This is because we often tend to offer practical advice in situations where people really just want us to listen. In fact, Tawwab’s polls on Instagram show that over 70% of people just want a friend who will hear them out and make them feel understood rather than someone who will immediately go into problem-solving mode.

Emotional intelligence is about recognizing what is appropriate in which situation, what kind of approach might be best, and when empathy is what’s needed most.

Not always can you gauge what someone else needs, though. You’re not a mind-reader, after all.

So why don’t you just ask?

People will often tell you what they need once you pose the right questions.

4) “Let’s work together to find a compromise”

Conflict is where our ego thrives.

Once you realize that you have a different opinion from someone, you may latch onto it, thinking that you must win this invisible battle of minds at all costs.

If you lose, you take it personally. If you win, you feel your identity reconfirmed, your ego successfully boosted.

The issue is that approaching conflict from a place of ego – rather than your higher self – leads to destructive arguments that may very well crack the foundation of your relationships and stall their progress.

When you decide to view every conflict as a problem that you can tackle as a team, though…

That’s when disagreements can turn into something that brings you closer to other people and strengthens your connection as a whole.

Thus why “Let’s work together to find a compromise” is such an emotionally intelligent phrase.

5) “I respect your opinion even though I disagree”

if a man uses these 8 phrases in a conversation hes hiding something serious from you 8 phrases only emotionally intelligent people use, according to psychology

Not always does conflict lead to compromise.

Sometimes, two people hold such opposite views stemming from completely different life experiences and social bubbles that they struggle to come to any sort of deep understanding.

And you know what?

In many cases, that’s okay.

Sure, your ego may feel wounded because you haven’t managed to persuade someone of your truth. Sure, you might feel saddened at the fact that you’re probably not going to be best friends because your life philosophies are way too different.

But people with high EQ don’t throw a fit when things don’t go their way. They don’t stubbornly insist on solving a problem that ultimately isn’t worth pouring so much energy into.

Instead, they agree to disagree.

Oftentimes, that’s the most emotionally mature thing you can do.

6) “Would you feel comfortable if…?”

This one’s all about boundaries.

So many people struggle to set personal boundaries, and yet it is exactly through establishing limits on our relationships that we get to look after ourselves and prioritize our mental health.

As Suzanne Degges-White Ph.D. says, “Creating healthy boundaries doesn’t just solve an immediate problem of someone wanting more than you can give, it actually can re-shape how you see yourself, your relationships, and the people with whom you have built these relationships.”

But what can you do if someone doesn’t set boundaries due to people-pleasing behavior or when the topic hasn’t yet come up in a conversation?


Look, better be safe than sorry.

If you’re about to introduce a new factor into your relationship with someone, be it welcoming your new romantic partner into your friendship circle or wanting to kiss someone on the first date, it’s always a good idea to ask for some form of consent.

Trust me, it’s not going to be awkward – all you’ve got to do is ask in the right way. Here are some alternatives to “Would you feel comfortable if”:

  • “Would it be okay if…?”
  • “How do you feel about…?”
  • “Would you like…?”

7) “Can I share something related to X with you?”

Speaking of boundaries, not everyone wants to hear about your deepest fears or the ins and outs of your previous relationship in the first three hours of meeting you.

Sure, some conversations naturally evolve into deep talk, and if both parties are comfortable with that, it’s great.

But if you’re unsure whether diving into a specific topic may be too much, the emotionally intelligent thing to do is ask – and put no pressure on the other person.

“Can I share something about X with you? It’s okay if you don’t have the energy or time to deal with it right now, I just wanted to know what the boundaries are.”

And just like that, you’ve given the other person an out. If they choose to talk about the topic in question instead, you know they’re probably being honest and are genuinely okay with it.

8) “I need a bit of space to process my feelings but I’d like us to talk about this again later”

Imagine you’ve gotten into some kind of conflict with a person you care about. Emotions are getting heated, you’re not thinking as rationally anymore, the other person seems upset, too, and overall, it’s just turning into a bit of a disaster.

You want some space so you can cool off. You know that you can’t solve the issue in this kind of mindset.

Unfortunately, this is where many people make the argument even worse. They storm out, find an excuse to go out with their friends and party all night, or they completely shut down and refuse to talk.

Well, emotionally intelligent people go about it slightly differently. They are upfront about their feelings and they know how to establish firm boundaries that are assertive yet respectful.

It’s okay to need space. However, it’s also important to reassure the other person that you genuinely care about solving the problem – you just need to calm down a bit.

Sometimes, the most emotionally mature thing you can do is to take a break, process your emotions, and come back in a more rational state of mind.

But the way you communicate that need…

That’s what can make or break the deal. Tread carefully.

Picture of Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash

Pearl Nash has years of experience writing relationship articles for single females looking for love. After being single for years with no hope of meeting Mr. Right, she finally managed to get married to the love of her life. Now that she’s settled down and happier than she’s ever been in her life, she's passionate about sharing all the wisdom she's learned over the journey. Pearl is also an accredited astrologer and publishes Hack Spirit's daily horoscope.

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