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7 Reliable Signs of Poor Emotional Intelligence

The people who need to improve their emotional intelligence are the ones who least realize it.

Signs of Low Emotional IntelliegenceThe research is very clear. Several studies including the Center for Creative Leadership found the primary causes of derailment in executives involves deficits in emotional competence. They lack the ability to effectively deal with change, are poor at working well in a team, and demonstrate weak interpersonal skills.

In her Harvard Business Review article Signs That You Lack Emotional Intelligence, author Muriel Maignan Wilkins identifies 7 telltale signs of a low emotional intelligence (EQ) individual.

The low EQ individual…

  1. Often feels like others don’t get the point and it makes them impatient and frustrated.
  2. Is surprised when others are sensitive to their comments or jokes and think their listeners are overreacting.
  3. Thinks being liked at work is overrated.
  4. Shares his/her opinion very early on in discussions and defends them with vigor.
  5. Holds others to the same high expectations they hold for themselves.
  6. Blames others for most of the issues on their team.
  7. Finds it annoying when they are expected to know how others feel.

The author offers four strategies for helping a low EQ individual get better.

1. Get Feedback

People cannot work on a problem they don’t understand or realize exists. One of the critical components of EQ is self-awareness (the ability to recognize and stay aware of behaviors in the moment). Low EQ people naturally become very defensive and make excuses (or as I like to say rationa”lies” their bad behavior).

They have to be willing to receive and accept feedback.

2. Close the Gap Between Intent and Impact

Those with very low emotional intelligence severely underestimate the negative impact their words and actions have on people. Fact is, they don’t understand the gap between what they meant to say and what others perceived they said.

To close this emotionally draining gap, the low EQ person must learn to think before talking. By proactively screening their words and body language, they can better understand how what they’re saying and how they’re saying it is making others feel. Then and only then will they communicate in a manner where their intent matches the impact they desire.

3. Pause and Redirect

High EQ individuals are adept at adapting to situations and avoid knee-jerk reactions that are often the triggers for bad experiences. For the low EQ person, they can develop this skill by learning to think before talking and acting. This can be particularly challenging during times of impatience and frustration.

By pausing when they feel a trigger that often led to an undesirable behavior, they are able to effectively redirect to a clearer, less damaging approach.

4. Achieve Balance

Another critical component of emotional intelligence is empathy which people often confuse with sympathy. (See descriptions of all 5 EQ competencies below). Low EQ people don’t have to dismiss how they feel. That would be too much to expect.

They should seek to establish a workable balance where they feel good about their agenda while appreciating how others see the situation. Being sensitive to how others feel about a given situation is considered to be the most important skill to have as a leader, so this is major area for growth.


In my experience, helping a person who has a need to improve their EQ can be challenging yet it can also be one of the most rewarding and personally freeing experiences of that person’s life because they are finally able to get out of their own way to reach their true potential.


Source: Byron Stock & Associates

  • Emotional Self-Awareness – Having the skill to focus your attention on your emotional state – being aware, in-the-moment, of what you’re feeling.
  • Emotional Self-Regulation – Having the skill to be able to choose the emotions you want to experience, rather than being the victim of whatever emotions occur – not letting others “push your buttons.”
  • Emotional Self-Motivation – The ability to use your emotions to cause yourself to take positive action to continue to persistently pursue goals even in the face of significant adversity or difficulty.
  • Empathy – Not to be confused with sympathy – possessing the ability to listen effectively and accurately enough to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. This is not necessarily to agree with them, but to truly understand the situation from their point-of-view in order to improve communication, problem-solving, and trust.
  • Nurturing Relationships – The ability to demonstrate sincere care (as contrasted with “required courtesy”) for others.

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Emotional Intelligence the term introduced twenty year back has started gaining its due importance nowadays. EQ has emerged as major job skill which many companies are looking for in their employees while hiring rather than IQ. According to a research people with low EQ doesn’t realize what important skills they lack. The people with high EQ are emotionally strong and work while keeping their emotions aside. There are many benefits of working with people high EQ rather than with low EQ, as people people with high EQ can handle pressure in a healthy way , understands to cooperate with others, are the good listeners, are Empathic, set examples for others to follow, make more thoughtful and thorough decision. Working with people with less EQ is generally less rewarding sometimes becomes difficult to work with them. Certain ways have to be followed while handling people with Low EQ. Alan Garvornic who is a successful business leader, innovator and entrepreneur with over 32 years of real life, hands on experience in achieving results has provided evidence-based recommendations for managing that situation when you are working with people having Low EQ.
• Being Gentle. People with low EQ are generally grumpier and generally respond in an unpleasant manner. According Alan Gavornik one has to act as stabilizing and calming agent rather than ostracizing them which will prove physiological taxing , not just for others but the low EQ individuals themselves.
• Being Explicit. People with Low EQ has less capacity of decoding others, they are more like stereotypical engineer or professor: disinterested in nonverbal communication, non-empathetic, and somewhat detached from interpersonal contact; happiest when on their own or interacting with their own thoughts rather than people. According Alan Gavornik one should avoid social subtleties while interacting with them to avoid getting misunderstood.
• Being rationale. People with Low EQ behave in a irrational ways. . According Alan Gavornik one has to try to gain their trust by being the voice of reason and developing a reputation for being logical rather than manipulating them emotionally.
• Do not get offended. People with low EQ have low sympathy with others that is the reason that they are generally politically incorrect. According Alan Gavornik they generally lack conventional etiquettes, one has to find way of dealing with them and letting them know the way dealing with you.

Wow Ana! That is a great summary of EQ. Thank you for sharing as your comments provide additional and very valuable insights into the importance of EQ.

Best Regards,