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NickWignall
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The Top notch Psychology blog articles ๐—•๐˜† ๐—ก๐—ถ๐—ฐ๐—ธ ๐—ช๐—ถ๐—ด๐—ป๐—ฎ๐—น๐—น ๐—ฃ๐—ต๐——


The information Nick shares is both accurate and approachable. He gracefully ties together the latest scientific research with real-life stories and examples. Even though I know many of the concepts, I find personal value in hearing it straight from Nick!
Caitlin Faas โ€ข Certified Life Coach


7 Signs of Low Emotional Intelligence

Most people donโ€™t grow up learning very much about their emotionsโ€Šโ€”โ€Šwhat they are, how they work, or how to manage them well.
This means there are a lot of people out there with perfectly normal levels of academic or social intelligence but surprisingly low emotional intelligence.
You need to recognize the signs of low emotional intelligence because itโ€™s hard to have healthy relationships with these people.
Whether youโ€™re considering going into business with someone, getting married, or hiring a coach, itโ€™s crucial that youโ€™re able to spot the signs of low emotional intelligence early.
1. They avoid talking about how they feel
If you really want to see how much emotional intelligence someone has, pay attention to how they talk about their feelings.
Some people with very low emotional intelligence simply refuse to talk about their feelings. But more commonly, they just arenโ€™t very good at it.
Often they use vague or metaphorical language to describe how they feelโ€Šโ€”โ€Šโ€œIโ€™m just a little stressedโ€ or โ€œIโ€™m pissed off.โ€ Sometimes they intellectualize their emotions, using abstract and conceptual language to avoid describing how they really feelโ€Šโ€”โ€Šโ€œIโ€™m just kind of overwhelmed.โ€
On the other handโ€ฆ
People with high emotional intelligence arenโ€™t afraid to describe their feelings with plain emotional language.
They say things like: โ€œI feel sad,โ€ โ€œIโ€™m angry,โ€ โ€œI feel disappointed and a little annoyed right now.โ€
2. They criticize themselves for how they feel
Because many emotions like fear or sadness feel bad, itโ€™s easy to think they are bad or that we are bad for feeling them. This often happens to people who were punished or ridiculed for expressing emotion as children.
In any case, a common sign of low emotional intelligence is that people criticize themselves for having difficult emotions. They think itโ€™s bad or wrong to feel afraid. They think itโ€™s shameful to feel sad. They think itโ€™s a sign of weakness that they get angry.
Judging yourself for how you feel only makes you feel worse in the long-run.
People with high emotional intelligence understand that just because something feels bad doesnโ€™t mean it is bad. So they treat themselves instead with compassion and kindness when they feel bad.
3. They try to control their emotions
People with low emotional intelligence think about difficult emotions as problems to be solved. This means that anytime a painful mood or emotion comes up, they immediately try to get rid of it.
But when you constantly treat your emotions like problems, you teach your brain to see them as problems. This only makes you more fearful of your emotions and reactive toward them in the future.
When you treat your emotions like problems, you teach your brain to see them that way.
Emotionally intelligent people see emotions as messengers, not threats. And while you may or may not like the content of the message, it doesnโ€™t make sense to shoot the messenger.
The best way to free yourself from painful emotions is to validate them and let them work themselves out instead of trying to control them.
4. They only notice their loud emotions
While itโ€™s very common to experience more than one emotion at a time, people with low emotional intelligence tend to only notice the biggest, loudest emotion happening.
For example, after getting cut-off suddenly on the road while driving, they describe feeling โ€œmad a hellโ€ but arenโ€™t aware that theyโ€™re also feeling afraid.
People with high emotional intelligence have enough self-awareness to see all their emotions, even the quiet ones โ€œbehindโ€ their primary emotions.
5. They blindly follow their emotions
Another clear sign of low emotional intelligence is believing everything your emotions tell you.
Emotions often give us useful informationโ€”feeling fear when your fire alarm goes off, for example. But theyโ€™re just as likely to mislead usโ€”feeling anger when our spouse points out a mistake and asks us to correct it.
Emotionally intelligent people listen to all their emotions but never put blind trust in any of them.
Thereโ€™s nothing mystical about our emotions. And it can be just as dangerous to overvalue them as it is to undervalue them.
6. They try to โ€˜fixโ€™ your emotions
You can learn a lot about someoneโ€™s level of emotional intelligence by how they handle other peopleโ€™s painful emotions.
People with low emotional intelligence are afraid of painful feelings in others, so they usually try to make them go away. For example, they immediately start giving you reasons why you shouldnโ€™t feel the way you do or try to problem-solve your bad mood. These are dead giveaways that theyโ€™re not very high on emotional intelligence.
On the other hand, if someone is good at validating your emotions and being willing to sit with them without judgment or advice, thatโ€™s usually a sign of very high emotional intelligence.
7. They pretend to be happy all the time
I donโ€™t trust people who claim to be happy all the time and never admit or show when theyโ€™re feeling sad, afraid, ashamed, or just plain upset. Insisting on being happy all the time is usually a sign of low emotional intelligence.
Because they donโ€™t understand their moods and emotions very well, people with low emotional intelligence live in denial about the emotions they donโ€™t likeโ€Šโ€”โ€Šthe painful, uncomfortable ones. And they hope that if they tell themselves theyโ€™re happy all the time they will be happy all the time and wonโ€™t have to ever feel bad.
But I donโ€™t care what you read about in The Secretโ€ฆ
You can manifest positivity until youโ€™re blue in the face but itโ€™s perfectly normal to experience all sorts of emotions, including painful ones.
Emotionally intelligent people understand that there are no good or bad emotions any more than there are good or bad hair colors. And theyโ€™re secure enough to feel bad and show it.
All You Need to Know
Having low emotional intelligence doesnโ€™t make someone bad or unworthy. In many ways, itโ€™s simply a skill deficit. And obviously we all fall into some of these traps from time to time.
But itโ€™s important to see peopleโ€™s strengths and weaknesses clearly before you get into any kind of serious relationship with them.
Itโ€™s easy to be dazzled by a sharp wit or charming personality but neither of those will make up for low emotional intelligence and all the pain that comes with it.
Take it from a therapist, someone who talks to unhappy people for a living:
Learn the signs of low emotional intelligence early and youโ€™ll save yourself more grief than you can imagine.

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59 Comments
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Rosa
August 31, 2020 at 6:21 am
I love it! Thank you for sharing this. For years I felt it was wrong to express my emotions and ask my partner to sit down to talk about difficult matters. I would be told โ€œyouโ€™re too emotional!โ€ but the tears were mostly out of frustration and disappointment of them for not wanting to listen.
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:25 am
Thank you, Rosa. Yes, itโ€™s easy to end up feeling guilty when really youโ€™re trying to do the right thing in situations like this. Good for you!
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Gabrielle Angelina
August 31, 2020 at 5:39 pm
dear Rosa, thank you for your response, I understand and so will many other precious Souls, when i felt great happiness and joy; often with struggle to feel and experience that through so many sad things; or great sadness, most recently at missing my youngest Son Alex who lives far away in a wonderful โ€˜villageโ€™ for people with special needs and missing my Love [my husband and me are separated, he was kind an good sometimes, though criminally unkind other times and only living with him again because have nowhere else safe and ok to live, though after trying so much]and i was crying because my Love โ€“ after more than 25 years of very unhappy marriage where my oldest Sons were alienated from me and greatly sad by the lost relationships with them, during Lockdown, missing my youngest Son Alex, not going to Mass and no longer going to other places i used to go to my husband could not understand why i was so unhappy except for that i missed Alex so much, and this was after decades of bad times, and i could not help being so sad and could not stop crying though my husband from whom i was separated was kind in some ways, and often when you are emotional people get the wrong idea that you do not think deeply
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Bonnie
August 31, 2020 at 6:26 am
this is a great article. Iโ€™ve been at that place before but after a lot of years of therapy, I can still weep with my emotions! and I do share how I feel most of the time except with my family about origin. who still have for the most part the message we grew up with โ€œyou shouldnโ€™t feel that wayโ€
Thank you for this article
Bonnie
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:25 am
Youโ€™re very welcome, Bonnie!
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Julie
August 31, 2020 at 8:37 am
I have a therapist and Iโ€™m not an unhappy person. I just value therapy ๐Ÿ™‚
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Julio
August 31, 2020 at 6:48 am
Excelente explicaciรณn.
Muchas gracias.
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:25 am
De nada, Julio!
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Frank Rios
August 31, 2020 at 7:15 am
Great insight article, I wish my wife would read this learn to open up Express herself emotionally. Itโ€™s frustration when challenges on personal subjects she replies โ€œI donโ€™t want to talk about it. โ€ we live together but apart. I feel sad angry hopeless mad and hoping a change will happen. Hopefully.
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:26 am
That does sound hard, Frank. Often the best thing we can do is try to model these things ourselves and hope for the best.
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Sirena
May 4, 2021 at 3:30 pm
My husband of three years, is a good man, in many ways. He works hard and comes home tired, barely enough energy to โ€œseeโ€ the world around him, which actually, he doesnโ€™t really care about, anyway. I know this because he has told me directly, many times that, โ€œIf it doesnโ€™t affect me directly, I donโ€™t care to hear about it.โ€ That statement covers a broad spectrum, Iโ€™ve come to find out.
He was raised in a very liberal thinking, Hispanic family. There were no rules or boundaries given to any of the children (5). They were taught, from and early age, to be tough, no tears or emotions of displeasure were to be shown, but in the same breath, moments of happiness were to be kept to a minimum. As he reached adulthood, he played the field, often, and wound up fathering 4 children with three women, which he resents, although all involved, were consenting adults. The only innocents are the children, ranging from 19 to 8.
I am not Hispanic. I am very much a white, blonde woman, who is a few years my husbandโ€™s senior. I grew up in a very different home. There was love, support, rules, boundaries, chores, religion and faith, hope, tears, loss, gains, two parents who worked as a โ€œteamโ€. And the list goes on. The four of us kids were allowed to be who we were and grow into the people we are now. Flaws and imperfections welcomed!!!!
Iโ€™m a person who sees the world in color, not just black or white. This didnโ€™t seem to be a problem to my husband when we dated. He seemed to embrace the differences between us. Now, those same differences seem to irritate him. I was married before, for 14 years, and have three children from that union, who are all able bodied adults now, and living the lives they are choosing for themselves.
My husband is not accustomed to celebrating ANYTHING!!! the idea of gift giving at Christmas is very new to him. And he absolutely despises his birthday being celebrated. :earned that the first year of marriage. Anything that may come up in my life, hes not keen on really making a โ€œbig dealโ€ about it. He doesnโ€™t believe in โ€œspoilingโ€ a woman with flowers, candy, just โ€œbecauseโ€ surprises, etc. as he once told my grown son, โ€œthe minute you show any of that to a woman, sheโ€™s got you in her hooks and knows just how to tighten the noose. So, donโ€™t even start, if youโ€™re smart.โ€ I was gravely disappointed to hear these words. All in all, I feel that he has the marriage he wants. Not the one we talked pf having when we were engaged. It seems that i am the only one putting forth the effort in this marriage. When Iโ€™ve brought up these concerns, he tells me, โ€œYouโ€™re creating fire where there is no smoke and our marriage is just fine. Relax.โ€ No itโ€™s not. For an intelligent woman, I went against my better judgement and got married again, even after repeatedly telling myself I would NEVER go down this road again.
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Pete
August 31, 2020 at 7:16 am
Is this harmful for someone with a low EQ to read? The overall premise of this article is that such people should be avoided rather than helped or understood which seems to go against your own values.
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:29 am
Itโ€™s a good question, Pete. I donโ€™t think the idea that avoiding getting into serious relationships with people with low emotional intelligence and helping them are mutually exclusiveโ€ฆ
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Emm
August 31, 2020 at 7:47 am
I agree with the last comment from Pete. Also isnโ€™t it likely that some mental health issues may โ€˜inadvertentlyโ€™ land an individual with this weakness.
We have had so little education about emotional health โ€ฆanywhereโ€ฆif your family of origin doesnโ€™t teach you about it, or doesnโ€™t know how to express / address emotions, learning doesnโ€™t happen and such an individual is handicapped in life. They grow up not knowing how to communicate well or interact with understandingโ€ฆ
It is a sad state of being for all concerned.
Isnโ€™t the important question โ€“ Can EI be learned?
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:52 am
Emm, I think emotional intelligence can defintiely be learned!
But if youโ€™re choosing a spouse, business partner, or other serious relationship, I wouldnโ€™t count on it happening.
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Dave Logsdon
August 31, 2020 at 7:47 am
Keep these great articles coming Nick. They are so helpful. For years I participated in a group called Emotions Anonymous. It saved my life.
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 7:52 am
Thanks, Dave! Thatโ€™s interestingโ€”Iโ€™ve never heard of itโ€ฆ
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Mila P.
August 31, 2020 at 8:12 am
Great article Nick. I agree that itโ€™s important to know a personโ€™s EI status in the same way you would want to know someoneโ€™s health, financial, family relationships, etc. Personally, I wouldโ€™ve definitely saved myself Time, Energy and unnecessary Grief. Thank you to everyone for their comments as it adds more value to the article.
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Nick Wignall
August 31, 2020 at 9:13 am
Youโ€™re very welcome, Mila!
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