According to the theory behind emotional intelligence, people use this type of intelligence to:
understand and regulate their own mood and emotions
recognize how other people feel and empathize with them
solve problems and get their needs met
Emotional intelligence, or emotional quotient (EQ), varies from person to person, just like general intelligence.
People with lower emotional intelligence might find it harder to accurately identify emotions, recognize how other people feel, or express and honor emotional needs.
It’s true that these tendencies could create problems within relationships. Having lower emotional intelligence doesn’t make you a bad person, though. And you can work to develop those emotional muscles.
Looking for signs of low emotional intelligence? Wondering why it matters? Need tips on expanding your emotional capabilities? You’ll find all that and more below.
Key signs In general terms, low emotional intelligence means you often find it tough to:
decipher and manage your own emotions
understand how other people feel
Low emotional intelligence can show up in various ways. Some of these manifestations affect the people around you, so you might notice some challenges with maintaining your relationships. Other key signs include:
trouble understanding what causes certain feelings
frequent emotional outbursts or mood changes
difficulty asserting opinions or taking charge in a situation
little interest in finding new ways of solving problems
trouble accepting criticism, constructive or otherwise
difficulty expressing ideas clearly or getting a point across
a habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time
a certain obliviousness to emotional cues from others
a tendency to fixate on mistakes instead of learning from them and moving on
pessimism and loss of motivation after setbacks
Is emotional intelligence that big of a deal?
Emotional intelligence offers a wide variety of personal and professional benefits. When you can identify emotions accurately, you might find it easier to cope with distressing feelings that might affect your mood or performance. Managing emotions successfully, in turn, can improve relationships and boost your chances of professional success. In this example, emotional intelligence makes it easier for you to:
practice self-control during conflict and tense situations
remain optimistic and motivated to pursue goals, even when facing setbacks
Emotional intelligence is also linked to empathy, or the ability to understand how other people feel.
Many experts consider empathy a valuable component of leadership. Some hiring managers specifically seek out emotional intelligence in new employees. Emotional intelligence has also been associated with improved overall well-being, along with higher quality of life and job satisfactionTrusted Source. Lower emotional intelligence, on the other hand, often results in difficulties relating to other people or working through your own feelings. You might find conflict resolution challenging or have trouble communicating ideas to co-workers, friends, and loved ones. When upset, you might ignore your feelings, but this avoidance can create more stress and potentially contribute to mental health symptoms, including anxiety or depression. With all this in mind, you might begin to understand why many people view low emotional intelligence as a drawback. Here’s another perspective to consider, though: Higher emotional intelligence makes it easier to influence others. Sometimes there’s no harm in that. If you realize your brother feels pretty down after losing his job, for example, you might embark on a mission to influence his mood by reassuring him that he’ll find work soon. You encourage him to pursue his dream job, or offer help with revamping his resume. On the other hand, if you know your partner wants to see you happy, you might emphasize a minor disappointment or bad day to earn sympathy and get them to do something nice for you. People who hold positions of power or simply want to exert control over others could, theoretically, misuse their emotional intelligence by toying with the emotions of others and manipulating them for personal reward. To sum up, high emotional intelligence doesn’t automatically translate to “exemplary human being.” And someone with low emotional intelligence isn’t a “bad person.”