emotional intelligence

6 traits of emotionally intelligent people

Here are six effective traits of people who display a high level of emotional intelligence. If cultivated and practiced regularly, you too can develop the desired skills that can last a lifetime.

The term ‘emotional intelligence’ might sound confusing at first. That’s because we generally tend to perceive our emotions and our intelligence as two separate things. But combining the two can empower us to connect with others, comprehend ourselves better, and live a more authentic and happy life.

Humans are emotional beings, who often make decisions based on their emotions. When used in a productive manner, emotions can help us navigate through problems and improve our relationships, both at home and at work. Emotionally intelligent people have certain distinct habits or traits that make it easy for them to perceive, manage and control their own emotions, while also addressing the feelings of others.

It was psychologist Daniel Goleman who first introduced the term ‘emotional intelligence’ to a wide audience with his book Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. Goleman characterises emotional intelligence as the ability to identify and monitor one’s own emotions and that of others.

Our emotional intelligence impacts how we manage our behaviour, explore social complexities and make personal choices to accomplish positive outcomes. Since emotionally intelligent people tend to get along better with others by being empathetic and caring, they are more likely to be successful as compared to their peers. The good news is emotional intelligence can be learned and improved at any stage in life. In fact, a study by UC Berkeley psychologist Robert Levenson shows on average, a person’s emotional intelligence tends to increase as they age.

Here are six effective traits of people who display a high level of emotional intelligence. If cultivated and practiced regularly, you too can develop the desired skills that can last a lifetime.


Self-awareness is the ability to tune into your own feelings and emotions. Emotionally intelligent people understand what they are feeling and why, and how those feelings impact what they are trying to accomplish. For them, every moment is an opportunity to practice self-awareness. To grow in self-awareness, start by examining your own emotions. Introspect how you typically react to various situations, whether they involve a family member, a colleague or an outsider. When you’re mindful of your emotions and reactions, you can begin to control them. You also gain clarity on your values and sense of purpose, which allows you to be more decisive when formulating a course of action.

One of the keys is to recognise your inherent weaknesses. In case you’re struggling with something at work, be honest about the skills you need to build on to succeed. During periods of frustration, try to get to the root cause of your dissatisfaction. In general, self-awareness incorporates recognising one’s emotions and their effects, knowing one’s strengths and limitations, and building confidence in one’s self-worth and capabilities.


People who are empathetic and compassionate are simply better at associating with others. Empathy signifies the accuracy in reading and interpreting other people’s emotions. Emotionally intelligent people can easily identify with different types of people, listen attentively and communicate effectively. They pay full attention to the other person and make an effort to understand what they are saying and how they are feeling. They put themselves in the other person’s shoes to understand their perspective. In doing so, they become more sensitive to what the person is experiencing, and therefore, are less inclined to pass judgement on them.

A positive mindset

Emotionally intelligent people see the good in people, circumstances and events. This is a great quality in a person, as it can build inner strength and set the stage for opportunities and advancements. Emotionally intelligent people are self-assured and open-minded, which makes it difficult to offend or outrage them. They know how to separate their thoughts from reality in order to escape the cycle of negativity and cynicism, and develop a positive outlook on life. A vital aspect of emotional intelligence is acknowledging and celebrating the positive moments in life, however mundane they may be. People who experience positive emotions are, for the most part, likely to have fulfilling relationships. Here, it is important to avoid toxic and negative people and instead, surround yourself with positive and motivated people.


Emotionally intelligent people show adaptability and agility in the face of change and uncertainty. This enables them to discover better ways of dealing with unprecedented challenges and balancing multiple demands at once. Since they aren’t afraid of change, they are quicker to adapt to unfamiliar situations. They realise the importance of staying calm under pressure and recuperate quickly from upsetting situations. Adaptability helps you to balance your emotions for the good of yourself and others, as well as for the fulfillment of a particular task or mission. It is pertinent to accept that there will always be unexpected changes and difficulties in life. Try to comprehend the context of the given circumstance and change your strategies or needs depending on what is most important at that point.

Looking ahead instead of dwelling on the past

Those with high emotional intelligence learn from the mistakes and choices they made in the past. Instead of dwelling on the past, they are more mindful to embrace the present. They keep their mistakes at a distance that is close enough to refer to when needed. This way, they are able to prepare for future successes. Similarly, holding onto a grudge or a past resentment means you’re clutching onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people avoid doing this at all costs. They seek to free themselves of any negative self-talk to avoid falling into destructive and self-sabotaging behaviour patterns that hold them back from making progress. Overall, they’re able to use their emotional intelligence to look past setbacks and identify opportunities for learning and growth.


Self-motivation refers to the inner drive to accomplish and improve your commitment to your goals, and the readiness to act on opportunities. People with high emotional intelligence tend to be highly motivated, which makes them resilient and optimistic in the face of adversity. Self-motivation involves striving to meet a standard of excellence, a desire to pursue goals and objectives, and the initiative to try new things. It also means persistence in following one’s goals despite the obstacles and setbacks. Self-motivation pushes a person to be innovative and improves their critical thinking skills.




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