Signs and Characteristics of Emotional Intelligence Explained

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If you’re looking to have dating success, it might be time to consider the role emotional intelligence plays in your relationships. After all, the presence of high emotional intelligence is considered one of the qualities of a good partner

What exactly is emotional intelligence, though? And is it something you and your partner (or future partner) possess? In our guide below, we’ll define it, provide signs of it, and offer ways in which you can improve your own emotional intelligence to help enhance your relationships.  

What is Emotional Intelligence?

Emotional intelligence, also called emotional quotient or EQ, refers to the ability to manage, control, process, and express your emotions efficiently and effectively. It also involves being able to recognize and understand the emotions of others. 

To break it down further, emotional intelligence has four components:

  • Self-awareness
  • Self-management
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship management 

Below, we’ll address some of the signs of emotional intelligence, all of which ladder up and relate to those four categories. 

Why is Emotional Intelligence Important?

Having a high level of emotional intelligence is important because it can help you mitigate conflict, build relationships, and even reduce stress. Basically, this is a skill that can give you insight into the way you and others around you are feeling, so that you can more accurately assess situations and appropriately respond to them. 

This is helpful to have in many facets of your life. For example, if you have emotional awareness at the office, it will help you be a better boss as you can empathize with your colleagues and develop a more supportive and productive work environment. And if you have high emotional intelligence when it comes to your romantic relationships, you’ll be a better partner because you can communicate your needs and sympathize with your partner’s thoughts and feelings. In fact, one study suggested that high emotional intelligence in couples predicted longer relationships and higher relationship satisfaction. 

What are Some Signs of Emotional Intelligence

Now, let’s move on to some of the signs of emotional intelligence that could suggest you have a high—or low—emotional quotient. You can also look for these characteristics in your partner or potential partners when dating. 

1. You express empathy

If you’re sensitive to others’ thoughts and feelings and have a sincere concern for others, then these are signs of emotional awareness. For instance, you might be able to sense that your partner is unhappy simply by picking up non-verbal cues, such as the way they’re moping around the house, refusing to eat, or avoiding eye contact with you. 

Another example of possessing emotional intelligence is your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Let’s say your partner is annoyed about something you did. When you have the capacity to imagine how they’re feeling and consider what might make them feel better, you’re showing signs of emotional intelligence that can help you diffuse and mitigate the situation. 

2. You apologize

When you have a strong sense of emotional awareness, you’re not afraid of apologizing for your actions. You’re capable of recognizing your mistakes, owning up to them, and taking responsibility for them. This is possible because you understand that your actions were harmful, even if you didn’t intend them to be, and you’re invested in making up for the hurt you caused. As you can imagine, this is an extremely important relationship management skill to have, as it can help you mitigate arguments with your partner. 

3. You can let go

When you have a high level of emotional intelligence, you avoid harboring ill feelings and resentment. Instead, you actively work on forgiving and moving on from the situation. This helps you free yourself from the shackles of grudges and work toward a lighter, happier place where you don’t hold onto negative thoughts and feelings that no longer serve you. When you are able to do this in your relationship with your partner, you’ll find that it’s much easier to let go and rise above small inconveniences and insignificant arguments. 

4. You are open to feedback

You understand no one is perfect, and that’s why you’re always open to finding ways to improve yourself. You take note of your strengths and weaknesses, and because of this, you’re likely willing to hear constructive feedback from others, so that you can take it to heart and work on bettering yourself. In fact, if you have high levels of emotional awareness, you may even find yourself requesting feedback from those you trust to further help you become a more well-rounded person. 

5. You can self-regulate your emotions

The ability to self-regulate your emotions is another sign of emotional intelligence. This means you’re not prone to emotional outbursts. Instead, you allow yourself time to process your thoughts and emotions before acting on them, creating a more level-headed response. For example, if your partner says something that automatically offends you, instead of immediately responding with anger and rage, you might try to calm down and come from a place of love instead. 

6. You can adapt your emotions to different situations

If you possess emotional awareness, you’ll have an easier time adapting your emotions to certain environments. For instance, you’ll understand that a certain reaction, such as hooting and hollering, might be appropriate around your buddies but not your coworkers. In the same way, you might express anger or grief differently when you are alone versus in the presence of your partner. Understanding how to monitor your emotions can help prevent high-stress situations from spiraling out of your control. 

Ways to Improve Emotional Intelligence

Don’t worry; if you haven’t mastered all of these characteristics, you’re not doomed. In fact, there are many exercises you can perform that can help you develop and improve your emotional intelligence, such as the following:

1. Reflect on your emotional reactions

If you tend to have knee-jerk reactions and wear your heart on your sleeve, reflect on how that’s impacted your relationships. For example, do your angry outbursts cause others to automatically get defensive? Or do your crocodile tears make others uncomfortable? As you learn to regulate your emotional responses, you’ll find yourself enhancing your emotional awareness and intelligence. 

2. Look for non-verbal cues to gather others’ emotions

A big part of emotional intelligence involves understanding and interpreting others’ emotions. However, it’s more than just noticing tears and assuming someone is upset or hearing someone shout and knowing that they’re angry. There is a lot you can pick up on simply by examining another’s unspoken emotional cues. Let’s say someone is fidgeting and jittering; they might be feeling anxious. Or if they’re slumped over with their shoulders hunched and their head hung low, they could be experiencing sadness. The more you notice these cues, the better you’ll get at analyzing and responding to those emotions in a more sensitive and sincere way. 

3. Work on graciously accepting compliments and criticism

If it’s difficult for you to see the ways in which you can improve yourself, then you may need to work on your self-awareness to help elevate your emotional intelligence. This involves requesting feedback from others about your strengths and weaknesses and evaluating those remarks—can you see any truth to them? Consider both compliments and criticism and reflect on ways that you might be able to implement changes to better yourself. 

4. Practice putting yourself in someone else’s shoes 

Another way of improving your emotional awareness includes practicing what it would feel like to experience certain situations from someone else’s perspective. If your partner is upset with you because you forgot to pick them up from the airport, try imagining how it might feel if they did that same thing to you. Would you be hurt, sad, or angry? And what might make you feel better in that situation? Putting yourself in their shoes is an exercise that can help you practice empathy and improve your ability to sympathize. 

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