14 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People – by Copley Sutton


If you’re on a journey to develop your emotional intelligence, it helps to observe others you perceive as having a high EQ. How do you spot these individuals? Are they giving off signs that you can pick up on and follow? The following 14 habits are typically practised by people who have a high EQ. Once you notice them, you can adopt these same habits into your own life and develop your emotional intelligence over time.

Emotional intelligence is a crucial recipe for career success!

  1. Maintaining your relationships

You’ll notice that emotionally intelligent people are not in relationships solely for what they can get out of it. Instead, they maintain those relationships on a give-and-take principle. It’s what they can offer others rather than what they derive. Other people’s needs come first, which is why people with high EQs will go out of their way to cater to the needs of others.

If you’re someone who only gravitates to your acquaintances when you need something, those individuals will start to become sceptical about your intentions as a so-called friend. Aim rather to cultivate your relationships on an ongoing basis. Make time for those you want in your life and show them that your care is unconditional. The result will be real friendships that can be called upon when you need them.


  1. Seeing the other side of an argument

Emotional intelligence is all about empathy. This means that people with a high EQ are constantly trying to connect with others by understanding how & why they think the way they do in certain situations. One side of this is listening to another person’s argument for the purpose of understanding. What most people do instead is defend themselves and focus on their side of the argument rather than the other person’s.

This is one of the best customs you can teach yourself. Get into the habit of becoming a better listener. Not for the sake of responding, but for the sake of hearing the person out. Once the other party feels as if they’re being heard, you’ll be amazed at how open they’ll become to your side of the argument.


  1. Ask questions

Emotionally intelligent people ask questions of the people they are speaking to. They take an interest in others because they want to find a connection. Despite what you may think, this is not about finding common ground and forming a connection based on that. It’s about finding out what makes other people tick. What do they believe, why do they believe it, and how do their beliefs define them?

If you want to form deeper connections with people, ask them about themselves. They will appreciate your interest in them. Rather than this becoming a formality, focus on taking a genuine interest in people you speak to. When they reveal something about themselves, dig deeper to find out what makes them who they are. You’ll often find that relevant questions open up a whole new area of a person’s character.


  1. Giving constructive praise & criticism

How is it that some people can give criticism and not be seen as condescending when doing so? Their secret lies in a healthy balance between criticism & praise. It’s a tricky balance that doesn’t come naturally for most people, but those who have mastered it are respected leaders—whether they are in leadership positions or not.

Do you find yourself only giving criticism, even when it’s constructive? If it’s often not taken well, you may find that a healthy dose of praise is also needed. Regularly pointing out people’s positive points gives you the leverage and respect you’ll need when you are forced to point out the negative. If you fail to balance these two sides of the scale you will likely be viewed as overly critical, and won’t get much out of the people you work or live with.


  1. Mastering your emotions

A whole chapter could be written about recognising emotions in others. For now, however, let’s look at recognising emotions in ourselves and dealing with them appropriately. Anger, fear & sadness can often display themselves in destructive ways. This doesn’t have to be the case though. People with high emotional intelligence recognise feelings as a part of life and don’t allow those feelings to rule them.

The first step to this is recognising the emotion as soon as it rises. From here, you can ask yourself why you are feeling that way. If it’s something you can change or fix, you’ll be better equipped on an emotional level to do so. If it isn’t something you can change, you will reach a point of acceptance a lot quicker.


  1. Think before you speak/act

Following on from point five is the ability to stop and think before you act on an emotion. Many people find this difficult to do—especially with anger or fear. Much of the bad decisions made in life are a result of fear, anger or sadness. It takes an emotionally strong person to recognise these emotions and ponder on the reality of the situation before they act.

Instead of being reactive to emotions, learn to accept and embrace them as natural reactions of the brain. From this vantage point you will find yourself making wiser choices that aren’t impetuous or destructive to the situation. The solution to problems always become clearer the more you distance yourself from the situation that caused them.


  1. Focus on the positive

Folks with high EQs have a natural disposition of positive thinking. They realise that focusing on the negative hinders their ability to move forward and accumulate more positivity in their lives. These people are generally happier because they’ve accepted the aspects of their lives they are unable to change. Instead, they move forward with the aspects they can change and make the best of every situation regardless of the challenges they face.

If this type of thinking doesn’t come naturally to you, don’t fret. It takes a lot of practice before a positive habitual thought pattern overcomes a negative one. Actively work towards this and expect it to take some time. Remember that positive thinking isn’t the process of suppressing your emotions and hiding them with a smile; but rather accepting the good with the bad and not letting negative circumstances bring you down.


  1. View change as an opportunity for growth

Sudden change can rattle the best of us. Emotionally intelligent people have a knack for adapting to change quickly and joyfully. The main reason for this is because they see every situation as an adventure that will teach them something about themselves. Emotionally intelligent people live by the mantra, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Each situation in your life is an opportunity for personal growth—you just have to see it that way. Instead of being afraid of change, embrace it as a growth opportunity and adapt to each aspect of that change as best you can. This will create some level of discomfort, but that discomfort will make you more resilient the next time change comes along.


  1. Don’t rely on others to motivate you

People with a high EQ are self-motivated. They don’t need someone else to push them into making changes or pursuing growth. That’s because they believe that whatever they put in, they will eventually get out. Instead of living and working with a sense of entitlement, emotionally intelligent people owe it to themselves to pursue their dreams and work hard in achieving them.

This way of thinking takes a certain level of drive & ambition. Can you look at your own life and decide that working towards your goals is worth it? Emotionally intelligent people do this every day and you can too. Adopt a mindset of success and drive yourself on a daily basis to take one step closer to a better, richer and more successful life.


  1. Don’t be too proud to say you’re sorry

To err is human. When mistakes happen it’s important to not only learn from them but to also move on from them. This cannot happen unless the mistake is recognised and owned up to. Emotionally intelligent people will never shy away from their mistakes. They have no problem showing others that they have made a mistake—but more importantly, that they’ve learnt from that mistake.

If you find it difficult to apologise for your mistakes, resolve in your mind that doing so is beneficial to you. Chess players only get better when they lose games. Making mistakes is life’s way of teaching us lessons that we can carry into the future. Making mistakes is an unpleasant part of growing & maturing. If you’ve messed up, admit it, apologise, and move forward.


  1. Determine your passions and determine your path

People who play to their strengths are not only more successful, but they are happier too. It’s one thing to learn new skills and work towards exercising them. But it’s another to go against the grain and convince yourself to do something that you were never meant to do. Emotional intelligence means understanding your passion and making that passion a part of your daily life.

Those aspects of your life that get you up in the morning are your passions. They may be your kids, your hobbies, or your ambitions. Have you set goals for yourself and integrated these passions into those goals? This is something emotionally intelligent people do. They live their goals out every day and allow their passions to drive them forward.


  1. Fill the gaps

Those who have high emotional intelligence are natural team players. Being a team player has its function not only in the workplace, but at home too. When someone has a need, a person with a high EQ will automatically step forward and fulfil that need. This can be as simple as helping an elderly person carry something heavy, or assisting someone with a task they don’t have time to do.

If you’re more inclined to clean the kitchen than the person you live with, do it without expecting them to. If someone at work keeps forgetting to fill the coffee machine, do it yourself. Emotionally intelligent people get satisfaction in serving others and performing tasks that benefit them and everyone around them. It’s not always easy, but it’s a lifestyle worth adopting.


  1. Be courteous

Saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ cost nothing. But more than simple courtesy, displaying general and/or deep appreciation is a trait that indicates a high EQ. Individuals who are well mannered and courteous appreciate the effort it takes for someone to do something for them. This, again, signifies a level of empathy—seeing it from someone else’s perspective. In addition to being courteous, emotionally intelligent people are also usually punctual; because they are loathe to keep people waiting unnecessarily.

If someone means a lot to you, you’ll be surprised at how satisfying it is to tell them so. Being someone who expresses appreciation also puts you in a position to offer constructive criticism when the time calls for doing so. People who recognise you as someone who is appreciative of their efforts are more likely to accept criticism as constructive rather than seeing it as condescending.


  1. Don’t take it personally

Finally, because people with a high EQ are on a journey to grow and improve, they are more likely to accept criticism of their own actions. Instead of becoming overly defensive of their actions or demeanour, they consider the criticism a chance to see themselves through the eyes of others. This looking into the mirror encourages their already-present efforts for self reflection.


Try not to be someone that people avoid criticising. Closing yourself off from the opinions of others will only perpetuate your negative aspects and make you blind to how others see you. Instead, aim to improve yourself by accepting criticism. Remember that you don’t have to agree with everything people have to say about you, but being open to listen is a sure sign that your emotional intelligence is on its way up.