8 signs someone is emotionally unintelligent, according to psychology

Do you know someone (or are you someone) who can’t regulate their emotions or consider other people’s feelings? 

Perhaps they’re prone to angry outbursts, or always seem to do or say the wrong thing at the wrong time. 

Or maybe they’re incredibly judgy, but they ironically struggle with accepting criticism. If this description fits anyone you know, chances are good that the person in question has low emotional intelligence (EQ).

Generally speaking, emotional intelligence is your ability to regulate your emotions properly. This kind of intelligence denoteanges a  person’s capacity to understand their feelings and utilize effective self-regulation mechanisms.

A high EQ means a person has the capacity to empathize with and acknowledge the feelings of other people. Additionally, emotional intelligence determines your ability to effectively problem-solve without losing it and freaking out.

Intelligence is not just measured by book smarts. This definitely gives you a leg up on the competition but to really stand out you need intellectual intelligence (IQ) working in tandem with emotional intelligence.

So, how do you know if a person has a low EQ? Or are you wondering if you need to work on your own EQ? Knowing these signs can help you sort things out.

1) Epically opinionated

People with a low EQ are willing to fight to the death to prove someone else wrong. But, if you ever prove them wrong, they’ll never concede the point. They’ll just double down and refuse to listen while arguing that your facts are in error.

A low EQ suggests a person who has to win at all costs and simply can’t “agree to disagree.” This is especially true when people criticize how the emotionally immature individual doesn’t bother to try and understand the feelings of others.

If someone’s opinions are written in stone and not subject to change, it’s a telltale indication of low emotional intelligence.

This is proof that the person can’t conceive of the world outside of their sheltered and subjective bubble. This makes it frustrating to interact with them since they don’t understand or allow any deviation from the perfect picture they’ve painted.

2) Lacks empathy 

People with lower emotional intelligence usually have a hard time differentiating between appropriate and inappropriate behavior. 

They’re famous for saying the wrong things at the wrong time. They quip questionable remarks or make a cringy joke almost without fail. 

That’s because most people with a low EQ simply don’t know what the right thing to say is. They also fail at timing and might say something boorish at a funeral or crack a joke immediately after a tragic event. 

Too soon, my clueless friend, too soon. 

And if you have the nerve to react to their incredibly offensive response, they’ll turn it around and act like you’re the one being overly sensitive.

Because those lacking emotional maturity have trouble understanding the emotions of others, it stands to reason that they can’t interpret and appropriately respond to the emotional tone of the room.

3) Poor social skills

Outward appearances suggest that most people with a low EQ are pretty much oblivious to other people’s feelings. They may be genuinely surprised to find that their partner is annoyed with them or that their work colleagues dislike them. 

In general, people with low emotional intelligence have a very small circle of friends. In some cases, they don’t have any friends at all because they struggle to form emotional bonds with others.

In every relationship, mutual emotional understanding and support are crucial to its success. The problem is that this concept is difficult to comprehend for a person with low emotional intelligence.

Low EQ people also have trouble communicating their feelings proportionately, coming across either as too aggressive or too passive. These crossed wires cause misunderstandings and can ultimately mean an escalation of conflict, making personal relationships hard to maintain.

4) Relationships suffer

It doesn’t matter whether you are an introvert or an extrovert. If you have keen emotional intelligence, you’ll have acceptable social skills as well.

Those with a high EQ possess empathy and flexibility and are open to other people’s points of view. Their kind and caring nature is like a beacon that attracts people to their light. 

Good relationships are built on a foundation of care and empathy. It means being respectful of other people’s boundaries and having a modicum of understanding about what makes your loved ones tick.

This can be a formidable task if you have low emotional intelligence. But keep trying. It’s worth the effort.

5) No accountability

self destructive habits that block progress in your 30s 8 signs someone is emotionally unintelligent, according to psychology

Since people with a low EQ lack empathy and always have to be right, they can be a trigger for resentment and conflict. They refuse to be held accountable for the messes they cause with their actions.

For example, say your spouse asked you to prepare dinner and you burned it to a blackened crisp. If you have a low EQ you’ll get immediately defensive.

It’s not your fault. 

Blame the one who made you cook dinner. After all, they cook way better than you do anyway. Why would they make you do it knowing it would end in disaster? 

At least you tried! 

6) Poor coping skills

People with a poor EQ have a difficult time navigating emotional situations.

They aren’t aware of how their thoughts influence their emotions, relationships, and the general quality of life.

It’s hard for someone with a low EQ to disengage from their flurry of feelings and objectively observe the situation from a third-person point of view.

They avoid being thrust into emotional situations at all costs. Emotionally immature people tend to hide their feelings and carry their burden alone. 

Any type of change is automatically rejected, especially if it pushes the parameters of their comfort zone. Even if change would be the most beneficial outcome, it’s just not happening.

For those lacking in emotional intelligence, short-term comfort will always trump long-term benefits.

7) Emotional outbursts

As we’ve already touched on earlier, people with low emotional intelligence struggle to control, understand, and express their emotions. They also have a hard time deciphering the feelings of those around them as well, which can cause low EQ folks to come off as rather jerkish.

The inability to cope with emotionally charged situations is often a calling card of low EQ. Their own strong emotions are impossible for them to understand, never mind those of others. 

People with a low EQ can be chronically overwhelmed by their emotions. This leaves them particularly vulnerable to stress and mental health problems, including anxiety or depression.

8) Self-absorbed

Emotionally unintelligent people tend to dominate every conversation they participate in. They’re completely self-absorbed and uninterested in anything that doesn’t directly affect them. 

Don’t be fooled. Even if they’re asking all the right questions and seem to be actively listening, they will always, and I mean always, find a way to bring it back to them.

Their goal is usually to drive the point home that whatever you’re going through, they’ve had it way better or much worse.


Final thoughts 

The ability to recognize and process your emotions—as well as the emotions of others— benefits every relationship you have, including the one you have with yourself. 

Emotional intelligence is a crucial tool needed for every facet of your life. Many researchers now believe that EQ may play a more important role than IQ does in determining overall success in life. 

Having low emotional intelligence negatively influences your interpersonal relationships. It also can take a massive toll on your health, both mental and physical.

But please. Don’t be down on yourself for having these feelings and not knowing how to deal with them. Being emotionally unintelligent doesn’t make you a bad person.

There are steps you can take to improve your EQ. If you’re willing to correct your behavior, that’s a clear indication you can achieve the goal of becoming a more emotionally intelligent person.

You got this!

Picture of Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden

Kathy Copeland Padden lives in a New England forest paradise with her cats, kid, and trusty laptop. She has been writing since age 8 and is such a pack rat she can back that up with physical evidence. Music is her solace and words are her drug, so her house is strewn with records and books. Watch your step.

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