Rebecca Ema (not her name) was an intelligent girl. She graduated from SSS3 as the best student but was emotionally not the best among her peers.
“I was the kind of a girl who always had things to say, but constant bullying made me doubt my abilities. When it comes to intelligent quotient (IQ), I’m up there, emotional quotient (EQ), I was not just there,” she explained.
Emotional intelligence is not just a trait we are born with; it is a skill that can be developed over time. People often exhibit behaviours indicative of low emotional intelligence without even realising it.
However, the first to liberate oneself from the prison of low emotional quotient is recognising these behaviours.
Those with low emotional intelligence can act in ways that may negatively impact others, without even realising it.
Read also: Emotional intelligence and your health
They tend to exhibit certain behaviours that are tell-tale signs of their unawareness.
Here are some signs that a person is suffering from low emotional intelligence.
Struggles with empathy
One major way of spotting people with low emotional intelligence is a lack of empathy.
Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is the key to building strong relationships, both personal and professional. And people with low emotional intelligence find it difficult to be on the same wavelength as others.
This is so because low emotional intelligence people often struggle to recognise emotions in others, let alone understand and share them. They may come off as uncaring or indifferent, even when that is not their intention.
Empathy is not about agreeing with others all the time. It is about understanding where they are coming from, even if you do not share their perspective.
Recognising this behaviour can be a big step towards improving emotional intelligence. After all, understanding others begins with understanding ourselves.
Difficulty maintaining friendships
Another thing about people with low emotional intelligence is their lack of tact and/or struggles to maintain friendships.
Low emotional intelligence people rarely apologises unless someone directly confronts them about their unholy behaviours.
And because of this, maintaining long-term friendships has always been a struggle for such persons. You can find such people in workplaces, worship places and even at homes.
Understanding this behaviour, and working on improving emotional awareness, can help strengthen relationships over time.
Overreacting to criticism
A third character threat found in people with low emotional intelligence is their inability to handle criticism constructively.
They tend to overreact and take things personally, even when the criticism is meant to be helpful. Colleagues or siblings with low emotional intelligence are more likely to perceive feedback as a threat rather than an opportunity to improve.
This perception often triggers defensive mechanism behaviours, such as lashing out or withdrawing from the situation completely.
Being open to constructive criticism is a vital part of growth and self-improvement.
Difficulty expressing feelings
Low emotional intelligence people often struggle to express their feelings effectively.
They may find it challenging to put their emotions into words, which can lead to misunderstandings and frustrations in their interactions with others.
This is because they find it difficult to accurately understand and articulate their emotions, and even that of others.
They may feel something strongly but lack the emotional vocabulary to share it with others.
Improving emotional intelligence involves learning to recognise, understand and express our feelings in a healthy way.
Another negative behavioural sign of low emotional intelligence in people is impulsivity.
Such people may react quickly without considering the impact of their actions, leading to regrettable decisions or conflicts with others.
Impulsive behaviour often stems from a lack of emotional self-control. Instead of taking a moment to process their emotions, they react immediately, usually based on their initial emotional response.
Developing emotional intelligence involves cultivating the ability to pause, understand our emotions and consider the potential consequences before we act.
It is about learning to respond rather than react, promoting more thoughtful and constructive behaviour.
Struggling with self-awareness
One of the most heartfelt aspects of low emotional intelligence is the struggle with self-awareness.
Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence. It is about understanding our own emotions, recognising their impact on our behaviour and how they affect those around us.
However, individuals with low emotional intelligence often lack this self-awareness.
The journey towards improving emotional intelligence starts with self-awareness. It’s about being honest with oneself, acknowledging one’s emotions and understanding their origins.
Difficulty reading social cues
Social cues are a crucial part of our daily interactions. They help us understand the emotions and intentions of others, guiding our responses and interactions.
However, people with low emotional intelligence often struggle to interpret these cues. They may miss subtle signs of discomfort, misinterpret expressions or overlook non-verbal signals.
Difficulty managing stress
People with low emotional intelligence often find it challenging to manage stress effectively. Stressful situations can trigger intense emotional responses in them, and they may struggle to calm down and think clearly.
Sometimes, when under stress, you see them rushing to the restroom because their system cannot accommodate the rising tensions.
The inability to manage stress not only impacts their mental and physical health but can also affect their relationships and performance at work or school.
Lack of emotional boundaries
The most crucial thing to understand about low emotional intelligence is that it often results in a lack of emotional boundaries.
People with low emotional intelligence often struggle to distinguish their feelings from those of others. They may take on other people’s emotions as their own, leading to emotional overload and exhaustion.