People with high emotional intelligence share these 12 traits

“I’m like, really emotionally intelligent.”

I was met with this statement upon a first date once and can confidently say that anyone who says this is well and truly not emotionally intelligent.

Even if they might think otherwise.

I actually had the pleasure of telling this boy that emotionally intelligent people did not ghost others after bumping into him on a night out. 

(And was quite proud of myself for it).

Emotional intelligence is defined as ‘the ability to understand and control your own feelings, and to understand the feelings of others and react to them in a suitable way’.

It’s a pretty important quality when it comes to interpersonal relationships and both professional and personal success.

And what does it look like, if not packaged up as a rugged model with a crooked smile?

I’ve compiled 12 signs of high emotional intelligence to help you on the lookout for the emotionally intelligent amongst us. 

Who knows, maybe you’re one of them:

1) Having a strong sense of self-awareness

Knowing your strengths and knowing your weaknesses and using this knowledge to your advantage is a key sign of having a high EQ.

This doesn’t mean giving up or avoiding things that are more difficult or that don’t come easily.

Instead, people with high emotional intelligence use their self-awareness to position themselves in situations where they can perform best.

They seek out people who bring out the best in them and are able to delegate where needed for the best overall success rate.

2) Being able to manage their emotions

Whilst still feeling sad/angry/upset, emotionally intelligent people are able to channel their emotions and avoid reacting immediately to those thoughts.

They’re able to sit with negative emotions yet avoid letting these thoughts control them. 

Often, this involves learning and using certain techniques to assist in emotional regulation.

Think journaling, meditation, breathwork. All those goodies.

Emotionally intelligent individuals know that thoughts come and go, and do not allow their emotions to dictate their responses nor their lives.

3) Being able to show empathy towards others (and hopefully feel it)

This is the point that I honed in on with my date.

“Emotional intelligence generally involves empathy. Which involves thinking about other people’s feelings. Which means not ghosting people.”

Empathy is a cornerstone of emotional intelligence.

You can be extremely intellectual or socially adept but still struggle to read or understand others if you lack empathy.

A heightened sense of empathy and being able to feel other people’s feelings, even if they have experienced things you can’t relate to, is a key aspect of emotional intelligence.

4) Curiosity in all aspects of life

Living inside a small box and being happy in that box isn’t the life of the emotionally intelligent.

Instead, they push beyond the confines of what they know.

They ask questions, they read, they research.

They love learning about new theories and concepts and are very willing to adapt their own belief systems should a new fact or idea bring them clarity.

Conversations with emotionally intelligent people are a blessing (both for those on the same level and those who aren’t quite as evolved).

Their continual interest in what you do and who you are means that others feel seen and valued in their presence.

5) Having an open mind

People with high emotional intelligence are not small minded.

Their curiosity and propensity for learning means that they welcome new perspectives and new ideas. 

Whether new book suggestions, learning about the way of unfamiliar religions, or debating controversial topics – people with a high EQ are never stuck to one way of thinking nor do they prevent new ideas from entering their headspace.

This interlinks with the ability to empathize with other people’s experiences, making it easier for people with a high EQ to develop relationships as others feel seen and welcomed in their presence.

6) Being able to communicate and express themselves well

newimagesize 2023 06 24T112529.956 People with high emotional intelligence share these 12 traits

The ability to communicate your opinions, views, and boundaries in an effective manner is also a key sign of high emotional intelligence.

Gradually raising your tone in an argument whilst trying to get your point across, until you’re actually screaming, isn’t part of the package deal.

However, being able to listen to others without interrupting and communicate your own views in a clear and concise manner is.

This means not relying on aggression to try and get your point across nor zipping your lips out of fear of what might be said in return.

Instead, it means using that self-regulation and emotional control to communicate in a calm and composed manner; continually respecting whoever you’re speaking to.

7) Being a great judge of character

Often, people with high emotional intelligence can read someone they’ve just met right off the bat.

They don’t need to do a deep dive into their life history or observe them for a while to really get to the bottom of what a person is like and how they behave.

Owing to their self-awareness, empathy, and knowledge of the wider world, they’re exceptional at judging character.

They’re often able to detect who has bad intentions, who everyone else overlooks, and decipher their motives just from a few conversations.

8) Being able to crack some good jokes

What better way to break the ice than a good joke?

Studies show that emotional intelligence has been correlated with humour.

Their distinct humour might differ, but at the core of it, emotionally intelligent people tend to know how to make others laugh.

They know that humour breaks down barriers and is the first port of call for forming relationships and diffusing conflict, and they’ll probably have you in fits of giggles.

9) Exceptional self-regulation

Beyond being able to manage their thoughts, emotionally intelligent people also tend to be disciplined and know what’s best for their body and mind.

Like that fourth iced coffee at 5pm.

Yeah, they know that’s probably not a good idea.

This doesn’t mean following a healthy lifestyle to a T, but having an awareness of what habits make for the best mental health and lifestyle outcomes. 

Emotionally intelligent people identify changes they can make to better themselves, and incorporate healthy habits to make sure they’re doing a good job of looking after themselves.

10) Able to handle criticism

Nobody likes being told that they’re doing a bad job.

However, people with high emotional intelligence know that often, criticism can be incredibly productive. 

It’s actually very useful and can help expose areas in which they need to improve, even if it stings a little.

Their open-mindedness and willingness to learn means that they’re wholly receptive to constructive criticism.

On top of that, they’re unlikely to boil over and emotionally react when provided with feedback, owing to their self-control.

11) Keenness to say sorry and move on

Ongoing conflict breeds resentment and leaves everyone in a weird, angry limbo.

Thus, people with high emotional intelligence tend to be quick to own up to their actions when they do go wrong. 

Even if their pride takes a hit, they don’t let their ego get in the way of apologizing and moving on.

They swiftly say sorry and make amends where possible, as they know that grudges get in the way of personal development and growth.

12) Willingness to help others

busy people from highly productive people People with high emotional intelligence share these 12 traits

Lastly, emotionally intelligent people tend not to be selfish.

The capacity to think of the wider world involves considering all the other people in it.

Coupled with that heightened empathy comes a willingness to lend a helping hand where possible.

Helping others to carry heavy shopping, going through some tricky math homework, doing voluntary work.

Emotionally intelligent people know that their input can benefit the world around them. 

Even a small compliment can go a long way in enriching the world, so they strive not only for their own betterment, but for the improvement of everyone else as well.

Am I emotionally intelligent?

Would you say you’re emotionally intelligent to someone on a first date? 

(Unprompted, that is).

If the answer is no, then congratulations – you’re probably more emotionally intelligent than you think.

Having a high EQ is a great quality of character.

Many of these traits combine to form all of the characteristics of a good leader, or otherwise the sort of person we all want to have in our lives.

After all, understanding your own emotions, being able to manage them, whilst also being able to understand others well is a lot to balance.

Yet people with a high EQ do a great job of juggling them.

If you’re not exactly relating to every point on this list, then that’s okay. 

The good news is that emotional intelligence can be improved.

When it comes to experiencing peace and improving your emotional intelligence, it could be that you’re not living your life aligned with a deeper sense of purpose

The consequences of not finding your purpose in life include a general sense of frustration, listlessness, dissatisfaction and a sense of not being connected with your inner self.

It’s difficult to level up when you’re not feeling in sync with your inner thoughts.

I learned a new way to discover my purpose after watching Ideapod co-founder Justin Brown’s eye-opening video. He explains that most people misunderstand how to find their purpose, using visualization and other self-help techniques.

However, visualization isn’t the best way to find your purpose. Instead, there’s a new way to do it which Justin Brown learned from spending time with a shaman in Brazil.

After watching the video, I discovered my purpose in life and it dissolved my feelings of frustration and dissatisfaction. This helped me to start understanding my own emotions better as well as those around me.

Picture of Liv Walde

Liv Walde

London-based writer with big thoughts, big dreams, and a passion for helping others.

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.