High emotional intelligence is increasingly being linked to overall life success. Rather than the standard cognitive intelligence (IQ) test, research suggests that emotional intelligence (or ‘EQ’) is more important in determining an individual’s success when it comes to work, relationships and general well-being. On the flip side, low emotional intelligence can be inhibiting and distort your perceptions, reactions, and behavior.

This article looks at 6 signs that indicate a lack of emotional intelligence and how to recognize them in yourself.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence relates to our ability to understand, regulate and express our emotions so that we can best adapt to the environment we are in. It also relates to our ability to understand the emotions of others and to be able to effectively deal with other people in an emphatic way.

People with high emotional intelligence are generally self-aware, able to control and manage their thoughts and emotions, can handle criticism and can easily understand and empathize with the emotions of others.

6 signs of low emotional intelligence

Having a low level of emotional intelligence certainly does not make you a bad person, rather, it can make it more difficult to navigate the complexities of life and the relationships that come with it. It is important to recognize that emotional intelligence is not a static unchangeable state. In reality, it is something that can be worked on to help improve your life for the better. The first step is identifying whether your emotional intelligence is low or not.

1. Quick to judge

Having a limited understanding of the emotions of others (and of your own) can mean that you jump to (normally negative) conclusions quickly. Most often, forming a negative opinion of a person or a situation can mean that you are unable to rationalize your initial emotions and recognize the need to assess the context of the situation and the emotions and experiences of those within it.

Not having a handle on your emotions can lead to a distorted view of a situation and taking steps to check this will help to squash those quick and unhelpful judgments.

2. It’s difficult to handle criticism

Let’s be honest, no one likes criticism. However, the more self-aware you are, the more honest you are with yourself about your strengths and weaknesses. This makes it easier to accept criticism as it is likely you are already aware of this weakness and take note that this is something to be worked on.

When someone has low self-awareness, this makes criticism a highly charged and emotional experience. If criticism is something that you do not take lightly, this could be a sign of low emotional intelligence.

3. Listening is hard

A failure to listen to the opinions and thoughts of others could indicate that you lack emotional intelligence and are not assigning value to the emotions of others. Think about the last time you had a disagreement or argument, did you consider what the other person was saying and attempt to empathize with their point of view?

People with high emotional intelligence can listen to a situation and won’t automatically dismiss ideas that don’t fit with their own viewpoint. The next time you find yourself rising to the bait, take the time to really listen to the point someone is making and try to see it from their perspective.

4. Dwelling on mistakes

Being unable to let go of past mistakes is another sign of low emotional intelligence. Learning from mistakes is important, but letting them overshadow our life is unhelpful. Enhancing your emotional intelligence could help you to stop beating yourself up about past failures and help you to learn from them rather than dwell on them unproductively.

5. Feeling misunderstood

Persistent feelings that you aren’t getting your message across, and that your relationships are suffering because of it, can mean that your level of emotional intelligence is quite low. Often being understood comes from being in tune with our own emotions and how they come across to others.

Someone with high emotional intelligence is able to interpret when they are being misunderstood and can adjust their approach accordingly. Having an understanding of how you come across can also help you to adjust your manner when the situation needs it such as when encountering conflict.

6. Feeling stressed out

‘Stress’ is used broadly here as any time you may feel anxious, tense or uncomfortable in a situation. With high emotional intelligence, it is easier to gain perspective on a situation and not waste energy allowing growing anxiety to persist.

With a lower emotional intelligence, you may be allowing unhelpful emotions to grow intolerable meaning that you feel stressed out regularly. By identifying these emotions and controlling them so they don’t get out of hand, you can increase your emotional intelligence and manage feelings of stress better.

Final thoughts

Having a low emotional intelligence could be having a profound effect on both your perception of the world and your relationships with others. Fortunately, emotional intelligence can be learned. By recognizing that there is room for improvement in your own EQ, you have made the first step in the right direction