Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, manage, and apply our emotions in positive ways. Higher emotional intelligence is what allows some people to communicate effectively, empathize with others, avoid conflict, and overcome challenges.
But what does emotional intelligence look like in everyday life?
While researching our book Emotional Intelligence: Your Foundation for Success, we identified a number of actions that demonstrate how emotional intelligence appeared in the “real world” — keep reading to see 10 different examples, and whether they apply to you!
1. You Can Identify Your Emotions
Emotionally intelligent people can recognize different emotions and understand how those emotions impact their thoughts, words, and how they act.
This process requires self-reflection, observing others, and reflecting to develop a deeper understanding of why people (including yourself) react to specific stressors, triggers, and other challenges.
2. You Practice Empathy
Emotionally intelligent people work to see the world through the eyes of the people around them.
Being able to “step away” from your own perspective and put yourself in another person’s shoes without judgment leads to deeper, more fulfilling relationships and reduces conflict.
3. You Can Manage Your Impulses
One of the signs of low emotional intelligence is knee-jerk reactions. People with higher emotional intelligence understand that emotions are fleeting, and can manage their urges to speak or act in ways that might be destructive, hurtful, or detrimental.
Being able to “hold back” during an argument, for example, is a sign of well-developed emotional intelligence.
Wondering how to improve emotional intelligence? Join us at our upcoming event EQ Connections™ Delivered! presented in partnership with MHS Talent Development.
4. You Can Control Your Thoughts
Most of our emotions occur instinctively, which means we can’t help what we feel.
However, emotionally intelligent people recognize that they can control how they frame those emotional reactions, and can direct their thoughts toward constructive outcomes and thought processes.
5. You Can Apologize
Being able to say “I’m sorry” is one of the most under-rated skills in anyone’s emotional arsenal.
Being emotionally intelligent means you understand the power that these two little words can wield in a relationship, and that you’re willing to put the health of the relationship over your ego.
6. You Don’t Hang Onto Resentment
Hanging onto resentment is akin to continually reopening a wound; you keep hurting yourself and denying yourself the opportunity to heal.
Through forgiveness you can allow yourself to move on and avoid being impacted by any emotional baggage you’re not letting go of.
7. You Look For (and Recognize) the Good in Others
People with high emotional intelligence actively look for the good in others, and aren’t afraid to express praise when they see it.
These people see the value in nurturing others’ potential and creating positive, supportive relationships with the people around them.
8. You Reflect on and Learn From Your Mistakes
Nobody is perfect all the time, but people with high emotional intelligence work hard to recognize and learn from their mistakes.
High emotional intelligence helps you pay attention to your behaviour, identify triggers that lead to negative behaviours, and work to cultivate habits and coping strategies to avoid undesirable outcomes.
9. You Embrace Diversity
People with high emotional intelligence understand that nobody is perfect, and emotional intelligence looks different to everyone because everyone is unique in one way or another.
By recognizing these tendencies and developing an appreciation for them, you can find opportunities to learn, grow, and even increase your own emotional intelligence simply by being open to a diversity of opinion and experiences.
10. You’re Committed to Continual Self-Growth
One of the qualities of a person with high emotional intelligence is that they’re continually working to better themselves and build on their skills.
By recognizing that learning and self-development has net positive benefits for those around us, we can contribute meaningfully to our communities, relationships, and workplaces simply by looking for new ways to grow and hone our abilities.