Your whole life, you have probably been used to learning about different subjects in school, but far less often are we taught how to interact with others. Because of this, your socializing skills might be not be as good as you realize, and you could be exhibiting some signs you need to work on your emotional intelligence. For some people, this skill comes to them quite naturally, and they are able to pick up on subtle cues from others when having a discussion. For others, emotional intelligence requires care and practice to really become in tune with how your peers feel.
"Emotional intelligence lies at the heart of developing mutually beneficial, supportive, and meaningful relationships in all areas of your life, including your family, friends, and career," says coach and licensed psychologist Anita Marchesani, Ph.D. over email. "If you have trouble getting along with people in any area of your life, it could be a sign that there is growth potential for your emotional intelligence."
Developing emotional intelligence gives you the ability to read other people’s emotional states, and then manage the situation in an effective manner. If you suspect you're lacking in this department, you might want to watch out for these nine signs you need to work on your emotional intelligence (EI).
1You're Not Satisfied With Life
Emotionally intelligent people tend to be more in touch with their passions and are motivated to pursue them. "They are always trying to get better, and they work to pursue goals that will bring meaning to their life," says clinical psychologist Dr. Steven Stein over email. "Because of this, people with high EI typically are goal-oriented and feel more secure that they are on track in their life."
2You Lack Confidence
Research from the Journal of Psychology and Psychotherapy shows a link between emotional intelligence and self-esteem. "People with high EI also have high self-regard, meaning they know their strengths and weaknesses and have good self-confidence," says Stein. "Typically, someone with high EI doesn’t put themselves down or brag to cover up for their shortcomings, because they feel secure."
3You Get Stressed Easily
"Being unable to manage stress is a sign of low EI," says Stein. "People with high EI don’t get ruffled by the little things. They have an ability to remain calm and focused, to constructively withstand adverse events and conflicting emotions without caving in."
4People Don't Confide In You
"People with high EI know how to listen to others," says Stein. If people don't confide in you or they avoid discussing personal stuff with you, it could be a sign your emotional intelligence is off. "Relationships [should be] mutually beneficial and marked by give-and-take and a sense of trust and compassion," he says.
"High EI people know how to use their emotions in making decisions," says Stein. "They have the ability to find solutions to problems and can balance their gut feelings with the data at hand. They’ve learned how to use the right emotion at the right time and level."
6You Are Lonely
People with low EI often put on a front to others to look good without allowing them to ever see their authentic personally, says Nancy B. Irwin, PsyD, C.Ht. over email. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, especially when you project those inadequacies onto others.
7You Have A Hard Time Holding In Your Reactions
Reacting quickly and emotionally to others is a sign that your EI might be low. "If you find yourself reacting in ways you don’t like— you back down too easily, you get overwhelmed too quickly, you dive in impulsively to situations — learning more self awareness will lead to a better ability to manage yourself in challenging situations," says Marchesani.
8You're In Unhealthy Relationships
The quality of your relationships is a key indicator of how strong your EI really is. "You may pick the wrong people, or even with the 'right' ones, you cannot sustain a relationship because you are either passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive in your communication," says Irwin. "Or, you expect your partner to read your mind or you stonewall."
9You're More Of A Follower
If you find that you're always taking a step back and letting others take the lead, it may be because you're not as well attuned to what others need for direction. "People with higher levels of EI are better leaders," says Marchesani. "They are more effective at motivating others to work collaboratively and to achieve goals."