13 telltale signs of emotional intelligence (and why they matter)

When it comes to living a fulfilling life, having emotional intelligence is key. 

Being able to understand and manage our own emotions, as well as those of others, can have a major impact on our ability to communicate effectively and build positive relationships.

But, how do we know if we possess emotional intelligence or not? 

Well, here are 13 telltale signs that you possess emotional intelligence and why they matter in achieving success and happiness.

1) Self-awareness

There will always be people who will try to manipulate and control you, but one of the most powerful tools you have to protect yourself is self-awareness. 

Being self-aware means being in tune with your own emotions, understanding how they drive your actions and reactions, and recognizing when they are being influenced by external factors. 

It’s a sign of emotional intelligence, and it’s essential for maintaining your own autonomy and integrity. 

When you are self-aware, you can make choices that align with your own values and goals, rather than being swayed by the whims of others. 

You become the master of your own emotions, rather than being a slave to them. 

So, if you want to be in control of your life, start by cultivating self-awareness and watch how it will change the way you see yourself and the world around you.

2) Flexibility

As we grow, we change, we face new challenges, and we’re exposed to new perspectives. 

It’s essential to be able to adapt and evolve with the world around us. 

And that’s where flexibility comes in – it’s one of the telltale signs of emotional intelligence, and it matters big time.

Being flexible means being able to adjust your perspective, your approach, and your expectations in the face of new information, new circumstances, and new challenges. 

It means being able to let go of old assumptions and dogmas, and being open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

Flexibility is important because it allows you to navigate the complexities of life with more ease and grace. 

It gives you the ability to pivot when things aren’t working out, to find new solutions to old problems, and to adapt to changing circumstances. 

But, perhaps the most important thing about flexibility is that it allows you to see the world as it is, not as you want it to be. 

It allows you to let go of your ego, your biases and your desire to be right and that’s what emotional intelligence is all about.

Flexibility is not only a sign of emotional intelligence, but it’s also a key to emotional intelligence. 

It’s the ability to be open-minded, to admit when you’re wrong, and to change your mind when you need to. 

It’s the ability to be fluid, adaptable, and responsive to the world around you. 

It’s the ability to be human.

3) Motivation

As Steve Jobs once said: ”The only way to do great work is to love what you do”. 

And one key ingredient to loving what you do is motivation. 

Without motivation, we’re just going through the motions. 

We’re not fully engaged, we’re not fully invested, and we’re not fully committed to our goals.

Motivation is a sign of emotional intelligence because it demonstrates an understanding of one’s own emotions and how they drive behavior. 

It’s the drive to achieve goals and be successful, even in the face of adversity. 

It’s the fuel that keeps us going when things get tough.

But here’s the thing about motivation, it’s not something you can just turn on and off like a switch. 

It’s a complex emotion that can be influenced by a variety of factors, including our beliefs, values, and past experiences.

So, it’s important to understand the different sources of motivation and how to tap into them.

When motivated, individuals tend to put in additional effort, persist through obstacles, take chances, and ultimately enjoy their pursuits.

So, if you want to do great work, tap into your motivation, and let it guide you towards your goals.

4) Empathy

personality traits of compassionate person 13 telltale signs of emotional intelligence (and why they matter)

Have you ever felt like you could just sense what someone else was feeling without them even having to say it? 

That’s empathy, and it’s a sign of emotional intelligence. 

Empathy is the ability to understand and connect with the emotions of others.

It’s the ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and see the world from their perspective. 

Empathy is what allows us to build strong relationships and communicate effectively. 

Without empathy, we would have a hard time relating to others and understanding their needs. 

Empathy is a key component of emotional intelligence and a vital skill to have in both personal and professional settings. 

If you want to build strong relationships, communicate effectively, and be successful, then it’s important to develop your empathy.

5) Social skills

In today’s fast-paced and competitive world, having strong social skills is crucial for success. 

It’s not just about being able to make small talk or being a “people person.” 

Emotional intelligence is about understanding and connecting with the emotions of others, which is where social skills come in. 

When you have social skills, you’re able to communicate effectively, build positive relationships, and navigate the complex dynamics of human interactions.

Think about it, when you’re able to understand what someone is really saying, even if they’re not saying it directly, you’re able to handle the situation more effectively. 

The same goes for when you’re able to sense when someone is upset or stressed, and respond accordingly. 

This is where emotional intelligence comes in.

Having social skills is not only important for personal relationships but also in professional settings. 

Being able to communicate effectively and build positive relationships is essential for climbing the corporate ladder, for instance.

6) Self-esteem

You live your life according to the way you perceive yourself, and how you perceive yourself is directly related to your self-esteem. 

Self-esteem is an important aspect of emotional intelligence because it is the foundation of how you feel about yourself and how you interact with the world around you.

It allows you to approach challenges with confidence and to believe in your ability to overcome obstacles. 

Having a positive self-image and confidence in your abilities means that you are more likely to take on challenges, set and achieve goals, and build positive relationships with others. 

When you have high self-esteem, you are less likely to be affected by negative emotions, such as fear and anxiety, which can hold you back from reaching your full potential.

On the other hand, low self-esteem can lead to feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, which can prevent you from reaching your goals and building positive relationships. 

It is important to work on building and maintaining a healthy level of self-esteem in order to live a fulfilling and successful life.

7) Emotional stability

There are certain periods in life when the emotions can feel like a rollercoaster. 

From stress at work, to disagreements with loved ones, to personal struggles, it can be easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of emotions. 

However, emotional stability is a key sign of emotional intelligence. 

It’s the ability to handle stress and remain calm in difficult situations, rather than getting caught up in the emotional whirlwind.

Emotionally stable individuals are able to keep their cool under pressure and maintain a level-headedness that allows them to make sound decisions. 

They are able to control their impulses and stay focused on the task at hand, rather than getting sidetracked by their emotions. 

This ability to manage emotions and stay grounded in difficult situations is critical for success in both personal and professional settings.

Emotional stability is also important in building strong relationships

Being able to remain calm and composed in the face of conflict or disagreement allows individuals to effectively resolve issues and maintain positive relationships with others.

It also helps to build trust and respect, as others are able to rely on the emotionally stable individual to handle difficult situations in a mature and responsible way.

8) Resilience

confident 1 13 telltale signs of emotional intelligence (and why they matter)

There’s nothing more admirable than the ability to bounce back from setbacks and adapt to change

This is the essence of resilience, and it’s a key component of emotional intelligence. 

When we are resilient, we are able to weather the storms of life and come out stronger on the other side. 

Emotionally intelligent people are not immune to life’s challenges, but they have the ability to handle them in a way that allows them to keep moving forward. 

  • They know that setbacks and failures are just a part of life, and they don’t let them define them. 
  • They take responsibility for their actions and learn from their mistakes. 
  • They take the time to process their emotions and then they take action. 
  • They are flexible and they are able to adapt to new situations and environments. 
  • And they are not afraid of change. They embrace it instead.

9) Self-discipline

Regardless of how emotionally intelligent someone may be, if they lack self-discipline, it can hinder their ability to achieve their goals and be successful in both personal and professional settings. 

Self-discipline is the ability to control impulses and stay focused on goals, even when faced with distractions and temptations. 

It’s the ability to delay gratification and push through the hard work and perseverance required to achieve success.

Self-discipline is a sign of emotional intelligence because it shows that an individual can regulate their emotions and behavior in a way that aligns with their goals. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals are able to recognize when their emotions may be getting in the way of their goals, and they have the ability to regulate them in a way that allows them to stay focused and on track.

Self-discipline is also an important aspect of emotional intelligence when it comes to stress management. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals are able to manage stress and stay calm in difficult situations, which is especially important when it comes to high-pressure or high-stress environments.

Self-discipline is what separates the successful from the average, the dreamers from the doers. 

But self-discipline is not easy, it takes work, it takes effort, it takes sacrifice. It’s a muscle that needs to be trained and strengthened over time. 

But the good news is, it’s a muscle that anyone can train. 

And the more you train it, the stronger it becomes.

10) Problem-solving 

In life, you will come across many situations where you need to solve problems, if you don’t have the ability to do so, you will be stuck in a rut.

Problem-solving is a crucial sign of emotional intelligence because it shows that a person is able to analyze a situation and find a solution, even in the face of adversity. 

Let me give you an example, imagine you’re in a meeting with a client and they’re not happy with the work you’ve done for them. 

They’re yelling, and your team members are getting anxious. 

If you don’t have good problem-solving skills, you might just get defensive and argue with the client, or you might freeze up and not know what to say. 

But if you have emotional intelligence, you would be able to remain calm and analyze the situation. 

You would be able to understand the client’s perspective and find a solution that works for both of you.

Having good problem-solving skills is not only important in your professional life, but also in your personal life. 

It enables you to tackle any challenges that come your way, whether it be a difficult conversation with a friend or family member or a financial crisis. 

It helps you to not get bogged down by the problem, but instead find a way to move forward.

Being able to approach problems with a clear head and a positive attitude, you’ll be able to handle any conflict or problem that comes your way in a calm and rational manner, making it less likely that the problem will escalate, and more likely that a peaceful solution will be reached.

11) Self-care

Another of the often overlooked signs of emotional intelligence is self-care. 

It may not seem like a big deal, but trust me, it’s crucial. 

Emotional intelligence is all about understanding and managing your own emotions, and what better way to do that than by taking care of yourself?

Self-care is all about making sure you’re in a good place emotionally and physically. 

It means taking care of your body by getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising. 

It also means taking care of your mind by practicing mindfulness and meditation, and by spending time on hobbies and activities that bring you joy.

The thing is, when you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s hard to take care of others. 

If you’re running on empty, you’re not going to be able to be there for your friends and family, or to be a good leader at work. 

When you’re not taking care of yourself, it’s hard to be the best version of yourself.

And that’s why self-care is a sign of emotional intelligence. 

It’s not just about being selfish or indulgent, it’s about understanding that you need to take care of yourself so that you can be there for others. 

It’s about being responsible for your own emotional well-being and knowing that when you’re in a good place, you can be a better friend, partner, and employee.

So, if you’re not taking care of yourself, start now. 

Trust me, it’s worth it.

12) Optimism

self esteem 13 telltale signs of emotional intelligence (and why they matter)

Imagine you’re an entrepreneur and you’ve been working on a new product for months.

You’ve invested a lot of time and money, and you’re sure it’s going to be a hit. 

But then, when you finally launch it, it flops. It’s a failure. 

Most people in this situation would feel defeated, and give up on their dreams. 

But an emotionally intelligent person with a strong sense of optimism would see this as an opportunity to learn and grow. 

They would understand that failure is a part of the process of success.

Instead of giving up, they would take the lessons they’ve learned and use them to improve their next product, and try again.

That’s the power of optimism. 

It allows you to see the silver lining in every cloud, and to keep moving forward even when things don’t go as planned. 

It’s a sign of emotional intelligence because it shows that you have the ability to control your own emotions and reactions, and to maintain a positive outlook even in difficult situations.

And in this crazy world, that’s something that truly matters.

13) Creativity

In the end, creativity is one of the most important signs of emotional intelligence. 

When an individual is able to think outside the box, come up with new and innovative ideas, and consider different perspectives, they are demonstrating a high level of emotional intelligence. 

This is because emotions and creativity are closely linked. 

When we are in touch with our emotions, we are better able to tap into our creativity and come up with new ideas. 

On the other hand, when we are blocked emotionally, our creativity suffers.

Being creative is not just about coming up with new ideas, it is also about having the courage to take risks and try new things. 

Emotionally intelligent individuals are more likely to be open to new experiences and willing to take risks. 

They are not afraid to fail and are able to learn from their mistakes.

Furthermore, emotionally intelligent individuals are able to collaborate and work well with others. 

They understand that different perspectives are important and they are able to tap into the creativity of those around them. 

This makes them valuable members of any team, whether it’s in the workplace, at home, or in the community.

Final thoughts

As you can see, emotional intelligence is a complex and multifaceted concept that encompasses many different skills and abilities. 

It’s not something that can be learned overnight, but with practice and effort, anyone can develop their emotional intelligence

Remember, emotional intelligence is not just about being smart, it’s about being smart about your emotions. 

By being more aware of your own emotions and how they affect your behavior, you can make better decisions and build stronger relationships. 

So, take the time to recognize and develop your emotional intelligence, it will lead you to a more fulfilling and successful life.

Picture of Nguyet Yen Tran

Nguyet Yen Tran

Yen is a freelance writer and a researcher specializing in mental health, self-awareness, and psychology. Her hobby is studying human behavior throughout their reaction upon situations. Be sure to check out her other posts on our blog.

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.