According to Psychology Today, emotional intelligence (or EQ) is “the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others.”

Unfortunately, traditional definitions of emotional intelligence lead many to misunderstand EQ as being nothing more than a kind of emotional awareness.

Emotional intelligence isn’t quite so simple, though. It consists of three primary abilities all with various sub-traits within them:

  • Awareness of emotions: Both of your own emotions and of others.
  • Harnessing of emotions: Applying the power of emotions in real-life situations to accomplish tasks.
  • Managing of emotions: Includes self-care and the ability to help manage the emotions of others through simple actions such as encouragement, calming down, cheering up, etc.

As you can see, emotional intelligence extends far beyond just emotional awareness. This is why it’s so critical in virtually anything you do, especially when it comes to interacting with others.

If your emotional abilities aren’t in hand, if you don’t have self-awareness, if you are not able to manage your distressing emotions, if you can’t have empathy and have effective relationships, then no matter how smart you are, you are not going to get very far.

– Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.

Whether you’re interested because you want to know if you have a high EQ or you want to improve your EQ to increase your chances of success in your endeavors, here are seven traits that emotionally intelligent people display:

1. They have self-awareness

One of the most fundamental qualities of emotionally intelligent people is their emotional self-awareness.

Self-awareness has huge benefits, including the ability to notice problems arise so that you can handle them swiftly– before they get bigger– to the ability to see things from a clearer perspective, making your response to emotions healthier.

2. They can pick up on how others are feeling

Emotional intelligence is one part you, one part others. In addition to high emotional self-awareness, emotionally intelligent people are also aware of the emotions of others.

Awareness of others’ emotions has unlimited uses, from knowing just when to comfort a friend when they’re hurting to noticing a team member’s frustration so you can investigate and handle the situation before it becomes a full-blown fire.

3. They’re great listeners


Photo Credit: on Unsplash

Emotionally intelligent people have the gift of being able to listen acutely to what’s going on around them on an emotional level. It turns out, this may be the key to developing good listening skills in general.

Perhaps it has to do with the ability to more easily understand what is going through someone’s head. Whatever the case, most of us aren’t great listeners, and that’s unfortunate because effective communication can’t happen if all you know how to do is talk.

Emotionally intelligent people know how to listen, not just to others’ words but their emotional content as well.

4. They have environmental awareness

More than just awareness of others’ emotions, environmental awareness is the ability to pick up on moods and energy levels in groups.

This is one of several qualities that makes emotionally intelligent people great leaders, they can pick up on the energy of their team and steer them in the right direction as well as offer encouragement and motivation when the mood is low or call a team meeting when frustration is running high.

5. They can anticipate and respond effectively

More than just awareness of what is already happening, emotionally intelligent people often have the ability to anticipate what is going to happen by reading the emotional content of those they interact with. This can be anything from anticipating bad news to someone quitting in the workplace.

This gives the emotionally intelligent person the ability to respond more effectively to situations as they occur as opposed to constantly reacting, putting them in control.

6. They’re empatheticHow to motivate employees through empathy

According to psychologist Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ and the person who brought emotional intelligence to popularity in the new century, empathy is one of five primary components of EQ.

Empathy includes the ability to relate to others and understand how they feel. Those two things alone are incredibly valuable traits which will not only make you happier and more successful, but also help those around you.

7. They’re good under pressure

Because emotionally intelligent people have greater self-awareness, so when under a large amount of stress, they know when and how to provide themselves with a little self-care. This is one of the most significant benefits of a high emotional intelligence, whether natural or developed, because it helps you navigate the pressures of work and life more effectively.

In a world which is becoming increasingly more stressful and high-pressure, self-care is more important than ever, and emotionally intelligent people are ready and equipped to deal with that pressure in a healthy and productive way.