Personal Development

7 Habits of Highly Emotionally Intelligent People

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"75% of careers are derailed for reasons related to emotional competencies, including inability to handle interpersonal problems; unsatisfactory team leadership during times of difficulty or conflict; or inability to adapt to change or elicit trust."   — The Center for Creative Leadership, 1994

It is increasingly becoming accepted that emotional intelligence is an important factor in our success and happiness, not only at work but in our relationships and all areas of our lives.

spice_upFocus on the Positive

While not ignoring the bad news, emotionally intelligent people have made a conscious decision that they will not spend a lot of time and energy focusing on the problems. Rather they look at what is positive in a situation and look for solutions to a problem. They focus on what they are able to do and that which is within their control. If they determine that there is nothing they can do about a situation they do not spend time commiserating, but move on to something that they have some influence over.

Surround themselves with positive people

People with a lot of emotional intelligence don't spend a lot of time listening to complainers and avoid negative people. They are aware that negative people are an energy drain and are not willing to let them drain their energy. Because they always look for solutions and the positive in situations, negative people quickly learn to avoid them as misery loves company. The people that they spend time with are positive and look upon the bright side of life. You can spot them as they tend to smile and laugh a great deal and attract other positive people. Their warmth, openness and caring attitude leads others look upon them as more trustworthy. Aware that what they put out they will get back in multitudes, emotionally intelligent people are generous and give freely of their time and energy. They make great volunteers and are involved in causes that have meaning to them.

Are able to set boundaries and be assertive when necessary

Although their friendly open nature may make them appear as pushovers to some, people with high EI are able to set boundaries and assert themselves when they need to. They demonstrate that one can be polite and consideration but still firm at the same time.   They do not make needlessly make enemies and their response to situations in which there is conflict is measured and not greater than necessary to manage the situation. They think before speaking and give themselves time to calm down if their emotions appear to be overwhelming them. High EI people guard their time and commitments and know when they need to say no.

Forward thinking and willing to let go of the past

People with high EI are too busy thinking of possibilities in the future to spend a lot of time dwelling upon things that didn't work out in the past. They take the learning from their past failures and apply it to their actions in the future. They never see failure as permanent or a reflection of themselves. Failure is seem as a necessary process that brings them one step closer to their goal.

Look for ways to make life more fun, happy and interesting

Whether it is in their workplace, at home or with friends, high EI people knows what makes them happy and look for opportunities to do more of it. They get pleasure and satisfaction out of seeing others happy and fulfilled and do whatever they can to brighten someone else's day.

Choose how they expend their energy wisely

While they are good at moving on from the past when things didn't work out as expected, they are also able to move on from conflicts involved with others. They don't hold on to anger over how others have treated them, rather use the incident to create awareness of how to not let it happen again. "Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me," is their motto.   While they move on and forgive, they don't forget and are unlikely to be taken advantage of again in the same set of circumstances.   While they tend to expect the best from others, they are realists and use their negative experiences to help them become better judges of people.

Continually learning and growing towards independence

Highly emotionally intelligent people are lifelong learners and constantly growing and evolving. They are open to new ideas and always willing to learn from others.   Critical thinkers, they are open to changing their minds if someone presents them with an idea that fits better.   While they are open to ideas from others, and continuously gathering new information, they ultimately trust themselves and their own judgment to make the best decision for themselves.   While in long term committed relationships their ideal is working towards interdependence.   However, they are aware that it takes two independent people to form an interdependent relationship.   If not, someone in the relationship will quickly become dependent.

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About the author

Harvey Deutschendorf

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, internationally published author and speaker. To take the EI Quiz go to His book THE OTHER KIND OF SMART, Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success has been published in 4 languages. Harvey writes for FAST COMPANY and has a monthly column with HRPROFESSIONALS MAGAZINE. You can follow him on Twitter @theeiguy