11 Things People With High Emotional Intelligence Do Every Day
Find more success in your relationships, career, and beyond.
Having high emotional intelligence (EI) means you're able to manage your own emotions in a healthy way and understand the emotions of those around you. Experts say there are plenty of perks associated with having high EI, including healthier relationships, stronger leadership skills, a better sense of well-being, increased confidence, and more robust resilience.
According to Daniel Goleman, the author and psychologist who popularized the concept of EI in the 1990s, there are five key pillars that bolster emotional intelligence. These are self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. By practicing habits that help you grow in each of these areas, you can effectively boost your emotional intelligence and begin to reap the benefits.
Wondering which habits help most? Read on to learn the 11 things that people with high emotional intelligence do every day.
11 Habits of People With High Emotional Intelligence
1. They take care of themselves physically.
Taking care of yourself physically can help ensure that you have the mental bandwidth to grow mentally and emotionally. That's why Chris Rabanera, LMFT, a psychotherapist and the founder of The Base EQ, says that habits like eating nutritious meals, exercising regularly, and getting adequate sleep all tend to be top of mind for people with a high EI.
2. They nourish their relationships.
If you're looking to build your emotional intelligence, one of the best things you can do is keep your social connections strong and varied. By engaging on a deep level with a range of personalities, you'll flex your social-emotional skills and increase your adaptability.
According to Julia Catlin, LMHC, a licensed psychotherapist specializing in emotional intelligence and trauma therapy, this tends to come naturally to people with high EI, who often prefer "deep, meaningful conversations" over small talk. "Emotionally intelligent people are often lovers of philosophy, psychology, and understanding the world around us," she tells Best Life.
"Having these meaningful conversations with others helps us feel connected to one another on a deeper level beyond the mundane ramblings of the day," Catlin adds.
3. They check in with themselves emotionally.
Rabanera says that another daily habit of emotionally intelligent individuals is that they check in with themselves to process any unresolved emotions.
"Processing emotions means being able to recognize and acknowledge what you are experiencing emotionally, examining what is causing the emotions, exploring ways to solve emotional difficulties, and moving forward from the experience," he tells Best Life.
The therapist adds that setting aside even 10 minutes per day to sit with your feelings and try to let go of the stressors of the day can help you move forward in a healthy way.
4. They ask themselves tough questions.
A key component of that self-reflection is asking thoughtful questions, says Connor Moss, LMFT, a therapist with Pacific Psychotherapy.
"Building on the foundation of a calmer mind, emotionally intelligent individuals often practice self-inquiry. Asking yourself questions like, 'What am I feeling at this moment?' multiple times throughout the day can provide insights into your emotional landscape and build the habit of self-inquiry," he says.
5. They're also inquisitive about others.
Moss says that this spirit of curiosity goes beyond self-reflection for people with high emotional intelligence.
"Another hallmark of emotionally intelligent people is their genuine curiosity about the emotional lives of those around them. Asking questions rooted in genuine interest about how others are feeling and navigating their emotional worlds can expand your understanding and potentially deepen your relationships," he says.
6. They prioritize self-care.
Heidi McBain, LMFT, LPC, PMH-C, an online therapist and coach for moms and moms-to-be, says that those with high emotional intelligence often practice daily acts of self-care.
"They know that putting themselves first at times can be hard, but will help them show up as the best version of themselves in all aspects of their lives, both personally and professionally," she tells Best Life.
7. They practice meditation and mindful breathing.
People with high EI often have another daily practice in common: They meditate or practice mindful breathing exercises.
"Engaging in a simple meditation practice that focuses on the breath for even just five to 20 minutes daily can significantly still the mind. This mental clarity can create room for more constructive thoughts and greater self-awareness regarding your emotional state as you navigate your day," explains Moss.
8. They embrace discomfort.
The human experience is a messy one—and those with high emotional intelligence aren't afraid to get their hands dirty. Moss notes that people with high EI are more likely to embrace discomfort in the spirit of personal development.
"People with high emotional intelligence tend to willingly place themselves in uncomfortable or potentially awkward situations as a means for personal growth. For instance, accepting a lunch invitation from a colleague with whom you don't naturally connect, or spending quality time with a family member you have disagreements with, can be great opportunities to broaden your comfort zone and sharpen your interpersonal skills," he says.
9. They practice active listening.
Several of the experts we spoke to highlighted the importance of active listening in the lives of high-EI individuals.
"Active listening involves giving undivided attention, asking clarifying questions, and providing meaningful feedback, which can enhance both personal and professional relationships," explains Moss.
In fact, McBain says people with high EI often listen more than they speak. "They listen to what's being said, but also to what's not being said directly, which they can learn by watching the other person's non-verbal communication," she says.
Catlin agrees and says those striving for higher EI should pay attention to tone of voice, pitch, facial expressions, body language, and more.
10. They admit when they need help.
Catlin says that people who have high EI tend to be comfortable with their own vulnerability. One way that they do this is by admitting when they need help.
"Far from trying to show they can do it all, emotionally intelligent people are quick to ask for help or advice, even if they think they should be able to figure things out themselves," agrees Laura Doyle, an intimacy expert and New York Times bestselling author.
She adds that these individuals recognize that asking for help strengthens the bonds with others "because there's an inherent complement in the asking: I value your contribution," she says.
11. They own their mistakes.
People with high EI tend to be honest and open—and that includes when they make mistakes.
"Everyone makes mistakes and highly emotionally intelligent people are still mere mortals," says Doyle. "This practice of cleaning up their side of the street is one of the most powerful ways to develop emotional intelligence and the resilience that leads to easy interactions with their partners, colleagues, family, and friends," she adds.
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