Dealing with someone who doesn’t understand and can’t handle emotions in a constructive manner is frustrating.
If that someone is a friend, family member, or significant other, their behavior becomes downright infuriating.
But how can you tell that the person you’re dealing with gets lost in emotional translation… or is just a prick?
Here’s some inside scoop.
If someone uses these 12 phrases, they have low emotional intelligence.
Once you know for sure, you can determine whether helping them out is a challenge you’re willing to take on.
1) You’re so wrong!
Generally speaking, people with limited emotional awareness tend to be highly opinionated.
They jump to conclusions, as well as embrace a point of view and defend it vehemently.
Additionally, they constantly need to be right, so engaging them in a debate isn’t productive.
They can’t see things from someone else’s perspective, making it rare for them to change their mind.
You’ll often hear them argue that a viewpoint that differs from theirs is plain wrong, end of discussion.
Meanwhile, a person with higher emotional intelligence might say something like, “I see where you’re coming from, however…”
2) It’s not my fault!
If a person never takes accountability for their actions, they likely have low emotional intelligence.
It makes sense: they lack emotional self-awareness, so it’s tricky for them to discern how their own actions and decisions affect the course of their lives.
Instead, they blame others, the universe, or bad luck whenever they experience a setback.
Other similar phrases they might say include:
- Why does this always happen to me?
- The universe is against me!
- I have bad karma.
- I messed up because no one supports me/believes in me.
- The system is rigged.
- Bad luck follows me around.
3) That sucks, but I’m in an even bigger pickle.
Emotionally unintelligent people like to dominate conversations and turn the focus on them every chance they get.
Regardless of what you say, they’ve been there and done that.
If you’re having trouble at work, they’re on the verge of getting fired.
If you ran a 10K last weekend, they ran a semi-marathon once.
They might seem to be listening intently, but that’s because they’re looking for ways to redirect the attention back to themselves.
Which brings me to my next point.
4) What were you saying?
If a person is tuning out of the conversation, especially when you’re describing how something made you feel, they probably have low emotional intelligence.
Since they have difficulty recognizing emotions, emotionally unintelligent people can be bad listeners.
They don’t realize that the topic at hand is important to you.
Even worse, they might not even get that their behavior is bothersome.
Other signs that they’re not paying attention while you talk include checking their phone, failing to ask any pertinent questions, and looking distracted rather than making eye contact.
5) Stop crying!
Given that they don’t understand emotions well, people with low emotional intelligence frequently display low empathy.
They fail to comprehend that someone is feeling sad, so they don’t know how to provide comfort.
Rather than simply being there for a person in need or offering emotional support, they extricate themselves from the situation.
Or, they try to make the person stop expressing themselves altogether.
This attitude is especially disheartening when it comes from a loved one, like a partner or family member.
6) You’re being overdramatic.
On the same note, people with low emotional intelligence accuse others of making a big deal out of nothing.
In reality, they can’t grasp that you’re upset or overjoyed over a situation.
7) How should I know what you’re feeling if you don’t tell me?
Their low empathy also shows its ugly head in less noticeable ways.
For instance, people with low emotional intelligence might not know that they made someone mad or did something to upset them.
They are oblivious to others’ emotions, so you must spell it out for them whenever they mess up.
Moreover, they get annoyed when people expect them to know how they’re feeling.
It’s a skill they haven’t mastered yet.
8) Was that offensive?
Granted, there’s a slim chance emotionally unintelligent people will ask this because, more often than not, they don’t realize they said something offensive in the first place.
However, if they’re actively working on themselves, you may hear them ask this if they notice others suddenly distancing themselves at a social function, for example.
With the disclaimer out of the way, people who lack emotional understanding don’t always know the appropriate thing to say, so they come across as insensitive.
They also might not have a good understanding of proper social timing. They can make a joke at a funeral or an ignorant comment immediately after a tragedy.
In short, they can’t read the room.
My father passed away unexpectedly when I was in my early twenties.
It was a shock for the entire family. Personally, processing his death took a long time.
That’s why I’ll never forget when, at the funeral, an elderly aunt handed me her phone and asked me to delete my dad’s number from her list of contacts.
She did this nonchalantly, explaining she didn’t need the number anymore.
At the time, I thought she was plain cruel.
Looking back, I concede that she was just emotionally unintelligent.
9) I need to get out of here.
People with low emotional intelligence find it impossible to cope with heated or sensitive situations.
Instead of trying to understand others, they are more likely to run away or take a time out.
Alternatively, they might simply explode.
This happens to be the next thing on the list.
10) I can’t take this anymore!
Due to their inability to pinpoint and process emotions, emotionally unintelligent people are prone to emotional outbursts.
They can’t identify their triggers or assess how they’re truly feeling, so they let things bubble up inside until it’s too late.
As a result, even trivial things can set them off.
When it does, their over-the-top reaction looks like a disproportionate response from the outside.
11) No one gets me.
Relationships involve give-and-take and compassion.
Consequently, people who lack emotional intelligence have trouble maintaining successful long-term friendships and romances.
Since they have trouble expressing themselves, they feel misunderstood.
When they do recognize their emotions, they hide them because they don’t have the vocabulary to properly articulate them out loud.
12) Titanic was so sappy.
This is a bit of an exaggeration, but hear me out.
People with low emotional intelligence find it challenging to put themselves in other people’s shoes, so they’re usually unmoved by sad movies or stories.
To them, a movie is just entertainment, which has nothing to do with their reality.
Why should they feel sad about it?
Next time you find yourself bawling your eyes out while watching a heartbreaking piece of cinema and notice that the person next to you is rolling their eyes, rest assured: you’re not overreacting.
That person has limited emotional empathy.
Improving emotional intelligence requires time and patience.
If the person struggling isn’t willing to put in the work to get better, there’s only so much you can do to help.
Playing emotional interpreter 24/7 leads to exhaustion and resentment.
Additionally, regularly interacting with them can take a toll on your own emotional landscape, so prioritize self-care.
That said, supporting someone as they grow emotionally is incredibly rewarding.
Just make sure the person is worth the effort before diving in.