6 Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent People.
Are you familiar with the concept of emotional intelligence? In a nutshell, the term refers to the ability to recognize, understand, and manage our own emotions, as well as those of others. Basically, this means having the “intelligence” and awareness to observe that our emotions can affect our behavior and affect others, just as theirs can affect us, and constructively cultivating methods for managing your emotions for the better.
Now common parlance, the term was popularized by Dan Goleman, a science reporter for the New York Times who discovered an academic article by psychologists John Mayer and Peter Salovey, in which they introduced the concept of “emotional intelligence.” Goleman was fascinated by the concept, and eventually released a 1996 book titled Emotional Intelligence, based on that research.
Time has shown that the most emotionally intelligent individuals share certain characteristics. Here, we’ll take a look at some of those attributes.
6 Characteristics of Emotionally Intelligent People. These are 6 characteristics of emotionally intelligent people; by cultivating these habits and traits, you may just find that your emotional IQ is raised as well.
1. Mindfulness. Mindfulness is perhaps one of the most important characteristics of emotionally intelligent people. Consider it the trunk of the tree, from which all of the other characteristics mentioned below branch off. Emotionally intelligent people are by nature mindful, taking care to observe situations, people, and their own thoughts as they come.
Mindfulness can be covered easily and concisely in three words: “be here now”. Being mindful means being aware and actually taking part in every moment in your life, be it eating a slice of cake or speaking with a loved one. Mindfulness contributes to emotional intelligence in that people who are mindful have the ability to observe emotions as they are, noticing rather than passing judgment. This awareness allows them to choose how to react in a situation and to evaluate if their emotion is helpful in this situation or not.
Mindfulness may seem elusive to some people, but it is a characteristic which can be cultivated through mindfulness practices such as pranayama breathing exercises, meditation, and yoga.
2. Self awareness. Before you can comprehend the emotions of others, you’ve got to have the awareness to get in touch with your own emotions. People with a strong sense of self-awareness are more aware of all aspects of themselves, including their emotions. This awareness helps them recognize their emotions, which can be helpful in not letting them get out of control. The ability to notice and self-reflect allows a person to recognize their emotional strengths and weaknesses, and allows them to act in the most productive way.
“Self-aware” does not equal perfection, though. It simply means that you know enough about yourself to know your tendencies. For instance, if you tend to shut down in times of crisis, this doesn’t mean you are a flawed human being. Awareness of the behavior and the emotions that contribute to it can help you improve, and improve your emotional intelligence.
3. Good listening skills. Emotionally intelligent people usually have this characteristic in common: they are good listeners. They are not the people whose eyes will be flitting all over the place or obsessively checking their smartphone while you talk to them, attention diverted elsewhere. They will be right there with you, listening to what you have to say, and contributing in a thoughtful way.
Part of what makes emotionally intelligent people such good listeners is empathy–meaning, they are not only listening, but have the ability to understand and discern feelings, and have the ability to put themselves in other people’s shoes. This allows them to truly connect with the person they are with on an emotional level.
4. The ability to adapt. Feeling stagnant? Not emotionally intelligent people. Their combined self-awareness and mindfulness make them very aware of when a change is needed or when they need to alter behavior or thought patterns to move productively into the future.
Fear of change is common, but to the emotionally intelligent person, change is also something necessary and inevitable. By pausing frequently for self-reflection and evaluating their emotions and place in life, they are better able to determine when a change is needed, and better equipped emotionally to adapt to the ever-changing landscape that is life.
5. They keep learning (and growing). This point plays directly into the ability to adapt. Emotionally intelligent people aren’t simply content to be aware of their emotions: by recognizing their tendencies, they see an opportunity to keep on growing and improving.
For instance, to revisit the example used above, if you realize that you shut down in times of crisis, simply realizing this tendency doesn’t make you emotionally intelligent. What would make you emotionally intelligent would be recognizing this tendency in yourself and then taking proactive steps to educate yourself and engage in self improvement activities which will help you continue to grow as a person.
6. Gratitude. An attitude of gratitude is a common thread among the emotionally intelligent population. Cultivating gratitude can have massive effects on your life beyond improving emotional intelligence. According to gratitude expert Robert Emmons, people who work to cultivate gratitude experience stronger immune systems, lower blood pressure, improved mood, and general improved quality of life.
Gratitude works in tandem with the other characteristics in this list. Engaging in mindfulness, truly listening to others while conversing, and pursuing personal growth can all help you develop a greater sense of gratitude. When you are truly engaging with the world and noticing your surroundings, it is easier to stop and experience joy and thanks for what surrounds you.
Conclusion: Emotional intelligence isn’t something that you either have or don’t. Everyone has emotional intelligence to some degree, and happily, if you feel that you could use some work, it’s something that can be cultivated and developed further in each and every one of us. By cultivating and developing the characteristics listed in this post, you’ll see great improvement in your emotional intelligence, and you may just experience an improved quality of life, too.
Do you consider yourself “emotionally intelligent”?