Emotional intelligence is the ability to navigate the murky world of emotions, and possessing it allows you to harness your emotions for positive results. This trait is an asset in the workplace, but it will also empower you to live a better, more balanced life.
Read on for 9 signs of an emotionally intelligent person – plus, 5 ways in which you can develop your own emotional intelligence.
1. They embrace change
People with emotional intelligence don’t fear change because they have a fixed sense of self that stays constant in all circumstances. Instead, they actively pursue new opportunities to grow.
Change is an inevitable part of life. It’s normal for humans to instinctively resist change because our brains are hardwired to preserve routine, but we have to overcome these instincts if we want to evolve and experience as much as possible.
2. They have a strong sense of self-awareness
When you’re emotionally intelligent, you understand yourself at a deeper level. That means recognizing both your strengths and your weaknesses. You’re confident about what you contribute and where you need help from others.
You’re also in tune with your emotions. For example, you’re able to identify when situations are triggering a negative response in you, and you can take preventative measures to avoid unhelpful, unhealthy reactions.
3. They show empathy toward others
When people are connected with their own emotions, they’re better able to relate to others. They can imagine how different situations might feel and provide support accordingly.
Emotionally intelligent people can read others too. They observe social and emotional cues and see past simply what is said to what someone might be experiencing underneath. They care about how their actions affect other people, and they’re able to make predictions to avoid causing hurt.
4.They pursue progress, not perfection
You might think that possessing high emotional intelligence means a person has achieved perfection. In reality, it means they’ve stopped striving for this unattainable state! Emotionally intelligent people accept themselves for who they are.
This doesn’t mean they’ve stopped growing; it simply means that they see themselves on an endless journey of improvement. They know that they’ll never reach the elusive destination of perfection, and they’re comfortable with that.
5. They have balanced lives
If you spend 20 hours a day studying, you’ll potentially achieve academic intelligence (if burnout doesn’t get you first), but you won’t be showing signs of emotional intelligence.
Emotionally intelligent people look for balance. They understand that a singular focus on one aspect of their lives leads to neglecting other important aspects. They also look after themselves because they know that they can’t achieve their goals unless they’re healthy and happy.
6. They’re curious and eager to learn
For the emotionally intelligent, life is full of learning opportunities. They’re naturally curious about other people and the world around them, and they take action to satisfy their curiosity.
Learning is a vulnerable activity because it necessitates admitting a degree of ignorance. Emotionally intelligent people aren’t controlled by their ego; they can admit gaps in their knowledge. They’re more interested in filling those gaps than pretending they don’t exist.
7. They’re grateful for what they have
If you’re always obsessing over what you lack, you’re probably lacking emotional intelligence! A key quality of emotionally intelligent people is gratitude: they take time to appreciate the great things in their lives.
Although they have goals and dreams like anyone else, they aren’t desperately grasping for the next big thing. They can see where they are already fortunate, and this keeps them humble and grounded to reality.
8. They’re express themselves assertively
There’s a big difference between being assertive and being aggressive, so you shouldn’t conflate these approaches. Assertive people are able to advocate for themselves, but they do so in a respectful way. Aggressive people are different because they don’t have the same control.
Those without emotional intelligence are prisoners to their insecurities, and these insecurities drive them to act in a dominating manner. When you’re emotionally intelligent, you’re able to enforce your boundaries and express your wishes directly without infringing on the rights of others.
9. They’re receptive to feedback
ow do you respond to constructive criticism? Are you able to listen as objectively as possible and reflect on other people’s perspectives? Or does anything but enthusiastic approval feel like an attack? If it’s the latter, this is a sign that you need to work on your emotional intelligence.
Why? Because throughout life, you will be assessed in different ways by different people. Your role is to measure the value of this feedback and incorporate the advice that’s useful to you. If you’re too stubborn and sensitive to accept criticism, you miss out on vital opportunities to improve.
5 ways to develop emotional intelligence
- Expose yourself to a range of perspectives
The more diverse opinions you encounter, the more comfortable you will be with the fact that everyone is different, with perspectives shaped by their own unique experiences. This will open your mind to worlds beyond your own.
- Try new things and escape your comfort zone
Overcome resistance to change by experimenting with new activities. The more at ease you can be as a beginner, the better! Practice following your curiosity rather than your fear, and you’ll develop the resilience you need to manage your nerves.
- Reflect on your emotional responses to understand them better
When you feel a strong emotion, such as shame, anger, joy or pride, reflect on what provoked that reaction. Try to notice the connections between your thoughts, your experiences and your feelings.
- Listen actively and notice body language
Empathy doesn’t always come naturally, but you can train yourself to tune in to other people’s emotional states. In conversation, make sure you’re listening to everything being said and how it’s being said, not simply waiting for your own chance to speak.
- Integrate compliments and criticism
Arrogant people only absorb external opinions if they’re flattering. Insecure people, on the other hand, obsess over negative assessments, blowing them way out of proportion. Try to weigh both equally for a more realistic self-image, since we all have strengths and weaknesses.