Darryn Van Hout

It’s now a fact that everybody has some queer behaviours they struggle to let go from their repertoire.

A new and seemingly peculiar finding has revealed that emotional intelligence (EI) has been the missing link in previous research work. Apparently, folks with average IQs do better than those boasting the highest IQs 70 per cent of the time. This new revelations have thwarted the widely assumed notion that IQ was the sole determinant of success.

Several decades of research point to emotional intelligence as a critical factor that separates star performers from the rest of the folks. Interestingly, this connection is so deep that 90 per cent of the best performers are associated with high emotional intelligence.

“No doubt emotional intelligence is more rare than book smarts, but my experience says it is actually more important in the making of a leader. You just can’t ignore it.” — Jack Welch

Emotional intelligence is described as the intangible “something” in each of us that plays a great role in determining how we handle social complexities, manage behavior as well as make the right personal choices to achieve positive outcomes.

In spite of EQ’s significance, its intangible nature makes it difficult to quantify how much someone has and what one can do to improve theirs if inadequate. But a small scientifically validated test in the Emotional Intelligence 2.0 book can help you discover your EQ level.

Sadly, there are no free reliable (scientifically valid) EQ tests. But hey, I’ve taken time to evaluate data from TalentSmart’s million+ users who have tested, to ascertain the specific behaviors thought to be the hallmarks of a lower EQ. I bet these will be the behaviors you’ll start working hard on to eliminate from your personal repertoire.

1. You get stressed easily

When your feelings are stuffed, they easily turn into awkward sensations of anxiety, stress and tension. When such emotions remain unaddressed, they end up putting pressure on both the mind and body.

Your emotional intelligence skills allow you to manage your stress levels more effectively by helping you to identify and handle tough situations before the tension escalates.

People who don’t use their emotional intelligence skills more often turn to other ways of managing their mood. They are vulnerable and twice likely to undergo depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts or even substance abuse.

2. You have difficulty asserting yourself

Apparently people with the highest EQs are able to balance empathy, kindness and good manners with the ability to define boundaries and assert themselves. This clever combination is perfect for managing conflict.

When most folks are frustrated, they result to aggressive or passive behaviour. People who are emotionally intelligent remain assertive and balanced by shifting away from emotional reactions that are unfiltered. This allows them to counteract toxic and difficult people without creating enmity.

3. You have a limited emotional vocabulary

Everybody experiences emotions, but only a select few can accurately distinguish them when they occur. According to our findings, just 36 per cent of people can do this, which is risky since unidentified emotions could sometimes be misunderstood, leading to irrational decisions and actions that are clearly counterproductive.

People with higher EQs are able to master their emotions since they understand them and often use a wide range of vocabulary of feelings to do just that. While most folks use the simple phrase of feeling “bad” to describe their emotions, emotionally intelligent people are able to pinpoint that they feel “frustrated”, “irritable”, “anxious” or “downtrodden”. In essence, the more specific your choice of word is, the more understanding you’ll have of exactly how you feel, what caused it and what you need to do about it.

4. You make assumptions quickly and defend them vehemently

People with a low EQ form an opinion too quickly then end up succumbing to confirmation bias, since they only focus on gathering evidence that supports their opinion but ignore any other contrary evidence.

In most cases, they argue, and even ad nauseam to support their belief. This can be a really dangerous behaviour especially for leaders since their under-thought-out ideas could be implemented by the rest of the team.

Emotionally intelligent people allow their thoughts to marinate because they understand that initial reactions are often emotionally driven. They are patient and give their thoughts and feelings time to develop while they consider the possible consequences or counterarguments.

Then, they communicate their developed idea in the most effective way possible, taking into account the needs and opinions of their audience.

5. You keep grudges

Negative emotions that emanate from grudges that people hold are surprisingly a stress response. Just the mere act of remembering a painful event is enough to slip your body into a fight-or-flight mode, a survival mechanism that compels you to arise and run or fight for your dear life when threatened. When there’s an impending threat, this reaction becomes really essential to your survival, but when the threat is in your past, holding on to the painful event causes serious havoc on your body; wreaking devastating health consequences with time. Actually, researchers based at Emory University confirm that holding on to stress significantly contributes to heart disease and high blood pressure. Keeping grudges therefore means you’re not ready to let go of the stress. Thankfully, emotionally intelligent people understand this and hence avoid stress at all costs. Choosing to let go of a grudge not only improves your health but also makes you feel really good.

6. You don’t let go of mistakes

People who are emotionally intelligent distance themselves from previous mistakes but do so without ever forgetting them. They keep their mistakes aside but close enough to refer to, and this allows them to adapt and adjust for more success in future. Walking this tightrope between remembering and dwelling requires great self-awareness. Dwelling on your mistakes for too long only makes you anxious and sometimes gun shy, while on the other hand, forgetting all about them makes you susceptible to repeating them. The secret to balancing the two lies in one’s ability to transform failures into simple nuggets of self-betterment. With this, you will often get up on your feet again every time you fall.

7. You often feel misunderstood

People who lack emotional intelligence find it difficult to comprehend how they come across other people. Many times they feel misunderstood since they do not send their message in a way that other people can understand. Despite doing practice, emotionally intelligent people understand that they can’t communicate each of their ideas perfectly. And so when others don’t effectively understand what they are trying to put across, they quickly adjust their approach, and then re-communicate their idea more clearly.

8. You have no idea what your triggers are

We all have triggers—people and situations that push our buttons and cause us to act somehow impulsively. People who are emotionally intelligent carefully study their triggers and arm themselves with knowledge to sidestep people and situations before they can get the best of them.

9. You don’t get angry

Emotional intelligence has nothing to do with being nice; it’s about managing your emotions to achieve the best results possible. This includes expressions of being sad, upset or frustrated. Always covering your emotions to portray feelings of positivity and happiness when the reverse is true isn’t productive or genuine. Emotionally intelligent people know how to use positive and negative emotions purposefully when situations demand so.

10. You blame others for how you feel

Emotions emanate from within. It’s easy to point fingers at others as the reason for your reactions, but you are responsible for your own emotions. No one has the power to force you into feelings you don’t want. Thinking otherwise will only hold you back.

11. You easily get offended

When you have a strong grasp of who you really are, whatever people say or do cannot poke you down. Emotionally intelligent people stay open-minded and self-confident; great characteristics that help them create a thick skin. You will even laugh at yourself or let others make fun of you because you are in control and able to emotionally draw a clear line between humour and degradation.

In Summary, unlike your IQ, your EQ is highly supple. Training your brain through repetitive practising of emotionally intelligent behaviours curves pathways required to turn them into habits. As your brain keeps reinforcing the usage of these new behaviours, connections that support the old and destructive behaviours eventually die. In no time, you’ll begin to use your emotional intelligence to effortlessly respond to your surroundings.

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