It was Daniel Goleman who first brought the term ‘emotional intelligence‘ to a wide audience with his 1995 book of that name, and it was Goleman who first applied the concept to business with his 1998 HBR article.
In his research at nearly 200 large, global companies, Goleman found that while the qualities traditionally associated with leadership, such as intelligence, toughness, determination, and vision, are required for success, they are insufficient. Truly effective leaders are also distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill.
Goleman found direct ties between emotional intelligence and measurable business results. The connection is so strong that decades of research now point to 90% of top performers having high emotional intelligence. Its intangible nature, however, makes it very difficult to know how much you have and what you can do to improve if you’re lacking.
So, below, find 17 behavioural traits symptomatic of those with high EQ.
Emotionally intelligent people employ a robust emotional vocabulary.
Only around 36% of people can accurately identify emotions as they occur – problematic because unlabelled emotions often go misunderstood.
Leaders experiencing this might go on to make irrational choices and counterproductive actions.
Emotionally intelligent people have a curiosity about people.
It’s a product of empathy, one of the most significant gateways to a high EQ.
Emotionally intelligent people embrace change.
Knowledgeable and flexible, they know change is commonplace, and make sure to be one step ahead with a plan in place to avoid their world turning upside down.
Emotionally intelligent people know their strengths and weaknesses.
They have an extremely high level of self-awareness. They know how to maximise their strengths and transform their weaknesses, and can manage themselves against any situation or individual.
Emotionally intelligent people are a good judge of character.
Socially aware, human behaviour is no mystery to them. They are an exceptional judge of character.
Emotionally intelligent people are difficult to offend.
If you have a firm grasp of whom you are, it’s difficult for someone to say or do something that gets your goat – emotionally intelligent people are also able to mentally draw the line between humour and degradation.
Emotionally intelligent people know how to say no.
Emotional intelligence means knowing how to exert self-control. You delay gratification, and you avoid impulsive action.
Emotionally intelligent people give without expectation.
Emotionally intelligent people build strong relationships because they are constantly thinking about and leaving strong and lasting impressions on others.
Emotionally intelligent people let go of mistakes.
Emotionally intelligent people distance themselves from their mistakes, but do so without forgetting them, allowing them to adapt and adjust for future success.
Emotionally intelligent people don’t hold grudges.
Holding onto a grudge means holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs.
Emotionally intelligent people neutralise toxic people.
Dealing with difficult people is frustrating and exhausting; those with high EQ know how to manage themselves when confronted with their difficult person.
Emotionally intelligent people don’t seek perfection.
They know that we are fallible by nature, and that perfection doesn’t exist.
Emotionally intelligent people appreciate what they have.
Taking time to contemplate what you’re grateful for improves your mood because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%.
Emotionally intelligent people disconnect.
Taking regular time off the grid is a sign of a high EQ because it helps you to keep your stress under control and to live in the moment. When you make yourself available to your work 24/7, you expose yourself to a constant barrage of stressors.
Emotionally intelligent people get enough sleep.
When you sleep, your brain literally recharges. High-EQ individuals know that their self-control, attention, and memory are all reduced when they don’t get enough of the right kind of sleep.
Emotionally intelligent people stop negative self-talk in its tracks.
They know that though we are all prone to them, the more you ruminate on negative thoughts, the more power you give them.
Emotionally intelligent people don’t let anyone limit their joy.
Individuals with high EQ know that you relinquish control of your own happiness when your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from the opinions of other people.
Read up on personal visioning, maintaining emotional intelligence, soft skills in the workplace and teamwork