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7 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do

7 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Don’t Do

The restaurant manager who speaks with poise and grace to the patron complaining loudly about the wait service. The levelheaded friend you call in your greatest times of need. The compassionate but composed rescue worker who aids victims after a natural catastrophe. The partner who angers rarely, forgives easily, and assumes accountability for their actions. The successful CEO who balances her profession, her family responsibilities, and her personal hobbies with equal measures of calm and confidence.

What do these people have in common?

In two words: Emotional Intelligence. A relatively new trend in the realm of pop culture and psychology today, Emotional Intelligence — or EQ — has existed since the beginning of time. According to Psychology Today, the preeminent site for mental health education and information, Emotional Intelligence is defined as an aptitude for identifying and managing emotions, and the emotions of others. It consists of three primary skills: the ability to analyze interior emotions and the feelings of those around them, the capacity to apply emotions to tasks, and the facility to take control of emotions — whether it’s managing their own before they veer out of control, or having the strength and capability to make another person smile, settle down, or handle a situation appropriately.

Those with high Emotional “IQs” have been proven to enjoy more prosperity in life. Whether they’re in a social or professional environment, they thrive. Studies demonstrate they have fewer mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Their personal lives aren’t train wrecks, precisely because they’re lived from the point of thoughtful — and meaningful — decisions. They outperform others, excel at their jobs, are happy in their relationships, and consistently work towards attaining positive results in all aspects of life. So, the question is, what don’t they do?

Here are 7 things emotionally intelligent people, as a rule, avoid:

1. They don’t get caught up in other people’s drama.

One of the hallmarks of Emotional Intelligence is empathy, and those with high EQs extend it to everyone they cross. But there’s an enormous difference between displaying empathy towards a friend or loved one and allowing another person’s rage or misery to incense, dominate, or merely influence one’s well-being. Think of the histrionic behavior of your co-worker who is “distraught” not because she’s going through a break-up but because her friend is. Or that cousin of yours who, instead of focusing on her individual personal crises, purposefully seeks out people who are distressed so that her problems disappear via distraction — a habit so ingrained she can’t seem to address her the complications in her own life.

Emotionally intelligent people, on the other hand, listen carefully, provide gentle, loving, but authoritative advice, and offer assistance. But they don’t permit others’ lives and reactions to rule their own.

2. They don’t complain.

Whining and grumbling implies two things — one, that we are victims, and two, there are no solutions to our problems. Rarely does an emotionally intelligent person feel victimized, and even more infrequently does an emotionally intelligent person feel that a solution is beyond their grasp. Instead of looking for someone or something to blame, they immediately think of how to constructively address the dilemma. They also know that their complaints influence the emotional responses of those around them, and instead search for ways to bemoan the dissolution of a relationship or a disappointment with a friend in private, effective ways — whether it’s taking a yoga class, meditating alone at a park, or simply getting their feelings out on the page.

3. They don’t always say yes — to others and themselves.

Like empathy, self-control and conviction are sure signs of an emotionally solid person. Emotionally intelligent people are well-aware that a second glass of wine will lead to negative consequences the next morning, just as they know that an invitation to go on a spontaneous weekend rendezvous will detract them from fulfilling their preexisting commitments. They are definitive about their decisions, rather than saying “I don’t know, maybe?” or “Perhaps I’ll skip the gym today,” which invites doubt — and with that, heightened anxiety, even depression.

The more often emotionally intelligent people exercise their right to say no, and the more frequently they rely on their willpower, the freer they are to concentrate on their ambitions and overall well-being.

4. They don’t gossip.

Emotionally acute people sidestep gossip as determinedly as they skirt drama. To involve themselves in scandalous talk, they know, is to shame another for a supposed error — and an emotionally intelligent person understands that all humans are equally deserving, and that what others might perceive as a mistake is an opportunity for improvement.

5. They don’t count on others for happiness or confidence.

Emotionally intelligent people are self-sufficient in all manners of life, including their contentment and peace of mind. They have learned that to bank on someone else making them feel joyful or worthy is to put themselves at risk for disappointment and hopelessness. Rather, they take their emotions in their own hands and find hobbies that delight them, strive for achievements that will lead to a sense of self-worth, and search within for love and acceptance.

6. They don’t engage in negative self-talk.

While few of us are entirely immune to thinking (or saying) pessimistic statements that begin with “I” (“I’m unattractive,” “I should have done better,” “I’m pathetic”), emotionally intelligent have the ability to curb cynical thoughts before they fall down the proverbial rabbit hole. Instead, they rely on facts to come to conclusions. For some, it’s a mere glance at their experience and accomplishments outlined on their CVs; for others, it’s the appearance of a clean and organized house, or an internal analysis of what they’ve done right.

After all, emotionally intelligent people acknowledge that negative thoughts are just that — thoughts — just as they recognize that the derogatory interior voices they hear are theirs to turn down, tune out, or silence completely.

7. They don’t dwell on the past.

People who exist more in their past than in their present are susceptible to a barrage of mental and spiritual grievances, from regret and nostalgia to agitation and trepidation. Emotionally intelligent people honor their pasts — the people they have loved, the mistakes they have made, the opportunities they’ve eschewed — but are mindful of the importance of living squarely in the here and now.

By learning from the past (instead of dwelling on it), the emotionally intelligent have the power to inform their present — without diminishing their ability to advance or harness three of the most vital emotions of all: Self-satisfaction, gratitude, and hope.

Featured photo credit: Youmacon People/carianoff via flickr.com

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Last Updated on August 6, 2020

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

6 Reasons Why You Should Think Before You Speak

We’ve all done it. That moment when a series of words slithers from your mouth and the instant regret manifests through blushing and profuse apologies. If you could just think before you speak! It doesn’t have to be like this, and with a bit of practice, it’s actually quite easy to prevent.

“Think twice before you speak, because your words and influence will plant the seed of either success or failure in the mind of another.” – Napolean Hill

Are we speaking the same language?

My mum recently left me a note thanking me for looking after her dog. She’d signed it with “LOL.” In my world, this means “laugh out loud,” and in her world it means “lots of love.” My kids tell me things are “sick” when they’re good, and ”manck” when they’re bad (when I say “bad,” I don’t mean good!). It’s amazing that we manage to communicate at all.

When speaking, we tend to color our language with words and phrases that have become personal to us, things we’ve picked up from our friends, families and even memes from the internet. These colloquialisms become normal, and we expect the listener (or reader) to understand “what we mean.” If you really want the listener to understand your meaning, try to use words and phrases that they might use.

Am I being lazy?

When you’ve been in a relationship for a while, a strange metamorphosis takes place. People tend to become lazier in the way that they communicate with each other, with less thought for the feelings of their partner. There’s no malice intended; we just reach a “comfort zone” and know that our partners “know what we mean.”

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Here’s an exchange from Psychology Today to demonstrate what I mean:

Early in the relationship:

“Honey, I don’t want you to take this wrong, but I’m noticing that your hair is getting a little thin on top. I know guys are sensitive about losing their hair, but I don’t want someone else to embarrass you without your expecting it.”

When the relationship is established:

“Did you know that you’re losing a lot of hair on the back of your head? You’re combing it funny and it doesn’t help. Wear a baseball cap or something if you feel weird about it. Lots of guys get thin on top. It’s no big deal.”

It’s pretty clear which of these statements is more empathetic and more likely to be received well. Recognizing when we do this can be tricky, but with a little practice it becomes easy.

Have I actually got anything to say?

When I was a kid, my gran used to say to me that if I didn’t have anything good to say, I shouldn’t say anything at all. My gran couldn’t stand gossip, so this makes total sense, but you can take this statement a little further and modify it: “If you don’t have anything to say, then don’t say anything at all.”

A lot of the time, people speak to fill “uncomfortable silences,” or because they believe that saying something, anything, is better than staying quiet. It can even be a cause of anxiety for some people.

When somebody else is speaking, listen. Don’t wait to speak. Listen. Actually hear what that person is saying, think about it, and respond if necessary.

Am I painting an accurate picture?

One of the most common forms of miscommunication is the lack of a “referential index,” a type of generalization that fails to refer to specific nouns. As an example, look at these two simple phrases: “Can you pass me that?” and “Pass me that thing over there!”. How often have you said something similar?

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How is the listener supposed to know what you mean? The person that you’re talking to will start to fill in the gaps with something that may very well be completely different to what you mean. You’re thinking “pass me the salt,” but you get passed the pepper. This can be infuriating for the listener, and more importantly, can create a lack of understanding and ultimately produce conflict.

Before you speak, try to label people, places and objects in a way that it is easy for any listeners to understand.

What words am I using?

It’s well known that our use of nouns and verbs (or lack of them) gives an insight into where we grew up, our education, our thoughts and our feelings.

Less well known is that the use of pronouns offers a critical insight into how we emotionally code our sentences. James Pennebaker’s research in the 1990’s concluded that function words are important keys to someone’s psychological state and reveal much more than content words do.

Starting a sentence with “I think…” demonstrates self-focus rather than empathy with the speaker, whereas asking the speaker to elaborate or quantify what they’re saying clearly shows that you’re listening and have respect even if you disagree.

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Is the map really the territory?

Before speaking, we sometimes construct a scenario that makes us act in a way that isn’t necessarily reflective of the actual situation.

A while ago, John promised to help me out in a big way with a project that I was working on. After an initial meeting and some big promises, we put together a plan and set off on its execution. A week or so went by, and I tried to get a hold of John to see how things were going. After voice mails and emails with no reply and general silence, I tried again a week later and still got no response.

I was frustrated and started to get more than a bit vexed. The project obviously meant more to me than it did to him, and I started to construct all manner of crazy scenarios. I finally got through to John and immediately started a mild rant about making promises you can’t keep. He stopped me in my tracks with the news that his brother had died. If I’d have just thought before I spoke…

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