5 Signs Of Emotional Intelligence

5 Signs of Emotional Intelligence - Office WorkersThese 5 Signs of Emotional intelligence predict people’s ability to regulate themselves, manage other people, achieve success and are particularly useful in every day work situations. Research shows a link between emotional intelligence and both career and business success. Not everyone is born with it, but unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be acquired and improved with practice.  In essence, Emotional Intelligence is extremely important to maintain effective daily functioning in any type of setting because it enables us to understand ourselves and other people. So, how can we tell if someone’s got it or not? Here are 5 signs of people with emotional intelligence.

No. 1: They handle criticism without denial, blame, excuses or anxiety.

One of the hallmarks of high emotional intelligence is self-awareness. Self-awareness is a deep understanding of what makes us tick; what angers us, makes us happy, bores and interests us. It’s also means that we can appraise ourselves, faults and all, with great honesty and clarity. So when people with high emotional intelligence make a mistake and get criticised for it, it doesn’t send them into an emotional meltdown. It’s simply a fact to be noted, analysed and corrected.

Not everyone with high emotional intelligence reacts to criticism in the same exact way. Some people deal with it in a more empathetic manner, and instantly wonder “Why did this person just criticise me?”  They seek to understand “what does this criticism mean for our working relationship moving forward?” Others handle criticism more like a process engineer looking to identify a product defect, systematically dissecting every step leading up to the issue they just got criticised for. Their first thought is “I need to figure out exactly what went wrong.”

Regardless of the exact nature of their reaction, people with high emotional intelligence do not deny it, blame others, make excuses or become anxious.


If you’ve ever heard people say, “My performance was just fine” (when it clearly wasn’t), you’ve witnessed denial. These are the staff who are very defensive and ‘closed’, or their egos are so fragile, that they’re simply not ready for feedback. They are, in effect, saying, “There’s no problem; my performance was absolutely fine. If you don’t like the results, that’s a problem with your judgment, not my performance.”


Others exhibit blame. Blame is the unspoken acknowledgment that constructive feedback is warranted (i.e., the outcomes were below average) coupled with an unwillingness to admit any personal fault. You’ll hear things like “OK, results weren’t perfect, but if you want to know where the problem is, go talk to ‘Finance Department’ about why they didn’t get the right data to my team before the deadline.”


Excuses are another reaction common to people with lower emotional intelligence. An excuse is an admission of below average results plus an admission of fault that is coupled with a host of extenuating factors that no normal human could possibly have overcome. Unlike blame, it won’t be another person or department that gets thrown under the bus but rather your servers, procedures, phone systems, and the like.


Then there’s anxiety. Here, the actual below average performance and culpability have been fully acknowledged; but the person lacks the readiness to move forward and improve future performance. People in anxiety say things like, “There’s no way we’ll finish in time” or “We’ve tried to fix this before, and it just didn’t work.”

No. 2: They’re open-minded.

A high level of self-awareness lets emotionally-intelligent people listen to a situation without reacting to judgment. They don’t automatically dismiss ideas just because they are different from their own. This makes them a popular go-to person when there’s trouble, issues, challenges or just a need for a sympathetic ear. You won’t find them chit-chatting all day, or tolerating negative personalities, but they do have a knack for helping people quickly set things right.

 No. 3: They’re good listeners.

Great listening requires a developed listening structure that separates the facts from interpretations and reactions. People with emotional intelligence can identify the emotions that close down their ability to listen. They’ve worked at developing the ability to divorce themselves from those emotions so they can remain open and able to hear what is really being said.

No. 4: They don’t soften the truth.

Emotional intelligence requires recognising emotions in others, but this other awareness doesn’t mean shying away from speaking the truth or using techniques to try and soften the blow of tough feedback. People with emotional intelligence know how important it is that tough messages get heard. You are likely to hear a clear message that might sound something like this: “Frank, I’ve got an important message to deliver. There’s no getting around it, but I want you to understand that I’m doing this out of a concern for you. Because, if you don’t fix this stuff, your career here is in jeopardy.”

No. 5: They apologise when they’re wrong.

People with high emotional intelligence don’t invest valuable time trying to prove they are right when they realise they’re wrong. Instead of looking for excuses, they offer a simple, honest apology that lets them quickly get back on track. It sounds something like this: “I’m sorry” I chose some poor words that sounded like I was attacking you. This is not what I intended. Can I try again?”

There are many indicators that someone has high emotional intelligence. But these 5 signs of emotional intelligence are indicators that you may witness every day at work. They will quickly help you assess whether the person in question does, or does not, have appropriate levels of emotional intelligence.

Do you want to improve your staff’s Emotional Intelligence?

Testing Talent working in partnership with mind change, consider that gaining an increased awareness of our own and others behaviour is a great starting point to enable personal change in becoming more flexible and adaptable.  We offer an assessment of your individual emotional intelligence and the areas where you have either an over-supply or under-supply.  We do this using Thomas International TEIQue’s assessment for individuals, provide one-to-one coaching for individuals as well as mentoring business teams in our emotional intelligence masterclass workshops.  For further information | Contact Us

This article is an adaption of  the original by Mark Murphy a NY Times bestseller, author of Hiring For Attitude, and founder of Leadership IQ.