Show me someone who doesn’t think that they’re emotionally intelligent and I’ll show you a sociopath.
We all think we’re emotionally intelligent, and there’s a good reason for that. Our society is built on emotional intelligence, and those of us who have high levels of emotional intelligence and are able to demonstrate it tend to be those of us who have the most success in life.
But what if we’re not quite as emotionally intelligent as we think? And what can we do if that’s the case?
I’m glad you asked. Let’s go ahead and take a look.
1) They struggle to “read the room”
There’s a scene in one of my favorite TV shows, Red Dwarf, where the characters are faced with news of a death. As they’re trying to process what they’ve just learned, Cat enters the room, bouncing up and down and saying, “I’m so hungry. I just have to eat!”
Lister tries to calm him down, saying, “Shh… Rimmer’s dad died.” And Cat replies with, “I’d prefer chicken.”
Cat’s character is based around the fact that his species evolved from cats, which are notoriously self-centered. I’d argue that my cat shows a lot more emotional intelligence than that, and that he also knows how to read the room.
Either way, this is a great example of what it’s like when someone can’t read the room. They say and do things that are inappropriate to the situation at hand because they just don’t know any better.
They don’t have enough emotional intelligence to pick up on what everyone else is picking up on.
2) They can’t control their emotions
The next thing to look out for is an inability to control emotions.
Most of us are used to controlling our emotions to a certain extent, even if we do it reluctantly.
I found that working an office job was a great way to learn to better control my emotions, because if I’d let all of the emotions I experienced bubble to the surface, I would have been fired in my first week.
Controlling emotions isn’t easy, and there aren’t any shortcuts.
I’ve started to think of it as being like a muscle that needs plenty of exercise. I practice by controlling my emotions in easier situations, such as if I stub my toe or a friend cancels plans.
Then, when I’m facing a greater amount of adversity, I’m better placed to react to it.
3) Their emotions cause problem at work
If someone can’t control their emotions at home, they won’t be able to control them at work.
A certain amount of emotion in the workplace isn’t necessarily a bad thing. For example, it’s good to be passionate about the work that you do, and there’s nothing wrong with getting excited about new features or product launches.
It comes down to whether those emotions are positive or negative. It’s the negative emotions that are most likely to cause problems in the workplace, and which you’re going to need to learn to control if you want to be emotionally intelligent.
4) People say they’re not empathetic or call them a sociopath
We all like to think that we’re empathetic and that we’re able to put ourselves into other people’s shows, but the truth is that some of us are better than others.
One way to tell whether you’re any good or not is to listen to what people say about you. If people think you struggle with empathy, they’ll probably tell you – and even if they don’t, it’ll color the way that they act towards you.
Oh, and it should go without saying that if someone suggests that you’re a sociopath, that’s not a good thing. You might want to rethink the way that you act towards people.
5) They make every conversation about themselves
Speaking of things to rethink, you might want to spend some time looking at how you act in conversation. If you’re the kind of person who makes every conversation about yourself, it suggests that you’re not too interested in other people.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally talking about your own experiences, because that can help you to connect with the people you’re talking about. Just make sure that you don’t overdo it.
We’ve all known someone who only ever talks about themselves, and we all know how irritating they are to spend time around. Don’t be that person.
6) They’re poor listeners
This builds on from the last point, because if you’re making every conversation about yourself then the chances are that you’re not spending much time listening.
The inverse of this is true, so the people who are the best listeners tend to be those who are the most emotionally intelligent. That’s why if you want to become as emotionally intelligent as possible, it’s a good idea to become a good listener.
Listening alone isn’t enough, though. You also need to be an active listener, which means that when you’re listening to someone, you need to be able to ask questions that prompt them to keep on opening up to you.
7) They find relationships difficult
One thing you’ll definitely notice is that people with low emotional intelligence don’t do well in long-term relationships. That’s because they’re not great at interpersonal relationships which are, after all, built around emotional intelligence.
Let’s face it, relationships are difficult at the best of times, and they push our emotional intelligence to the limit. If we’re found wanting, those relationships will end and we’ll find ourselves alone again.
That’s why an easy way to spot someone with low emotional intelligence is to look for people who only ever have short-term relationships.
8) They think being liked is overrated
Another great way to spot people with low emotional intelligence is to look for those who don’t care whether people like them or not.
True, popularity isn’t the be-all and end-all, but anyone with a decent amount of emotional intelligence will automatically care whether people like them or not.
Some people even go too far the other way and play a part, acting however they think is most likely to get people to like them.
Both of these can be signs of low emotional intelligence, so be on the lookout for them. And if you fall into either camp, don’t blame me!
9) They always blame others
Seriously, don’t blame me – and don’t blame other people, either.
Sure, sometimes things are someone else’s fault. For example, if you park your car in your driveway and someone reverses into it, it’s not exactly your fault for leaving your car in a place where people could reasonably expect a car to be.
The key is to understand that sometimes things are our own fault and that when that happens, we only have ourselves to blame.
Most of us do this naturally, and we’re often quite hard on ourselves when we turn that blame inwards. People with low emotional intelligence just don’t do that and will automatically try to blame someone else.
10) They see feedback as criticism
Another huge red flag that we see amongst people who aren’t too emotionally intelligent is that whenever they’re given feedback, they have a knee-jerk reaction in which they lash out and try to defend themselves.
There’s a big difference between feedback and criticism. Feedback helps us to learn and to become better people, but people with low emotional intelligence don’t see that.
Instead, they see any criticism as a direct threat to the way they do things, and that’s a shame. It stops them from being better people.
11) They accidentally offend people
As you can imagine, when people with low emotional intelligence are given feedback, they often respond in a hostile way, accidentally offending people whether they intended to or not.
In fact, this kind of accidental offense is pretty much a constant with those of low emotional intelligence. Because they don’t think about other people and how they might feel, they say things that can be perceived as hurtful.
So the next time a co-worker tells you that you look like you’ve put on weight, take a moment to consider that they might not be upsetting you deliberately. They might just have a low amount of emotional intelligence.