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  • Writer's pictureCindy Saunders | Leaders Rise

How Much Do You Know About Your Emotions?

Emotional Intelligence is that extra quality some people have, making them more successful than others in life, work, or business. Emotionally Intelligent individuals can identify what they're feeling and why — so they know if it would be best to adjust their responses accordingly.

Failing to cultivate it can hold you back — not only in your career and leadership development but also in your friendships and overall success.

"Emotional Intelligence is the single most important influencing variable in personal achievement, career success, leadership, and life satisfaction." — Darwin Nelson and Gary Low

Understanding emotions can be challenging. And if you’ve spent years ignoring your emotions, how can you begin to identify them? A good place to start is to see if you recognize any of these five indicators of low Emotional Intelligence. Do any of them seem familiar?

1. Frequent Emotional Outbursts

People with low Emotional Intelligence may struggle to understand and control their emotions. As a result, they might react without understanding what they are feeling or why they are so upset. Additionally, their emotional outbursts may be unexpected, overblown, uncontrollable, and at times inappropriate for the situation.

Leader Insight: You can't afford to panic when things get a bit too stressful; being calm is contagious. When you can manage your feelings, you are unlikely to rush headlong into decisions or let anger take over your behavior. A successful leader is not a slave to their emotions.

2. Not Understanding How Others Feel

Individuals with low Emotional Intelligence are often oblivious to the feelings of others. Consequently, they don't understand that someone might be angry or irritated with them and become annoyed when people expect them to know how they feel.

Not only this, but these individuals have a hard time understanding their own emotions because it's difficult for them to put themselves in other people's shoes. The result can be ongoing, frustrating social interactions.

Leader Insight: You can be a talented leader and still grapple with reading others. Having a hard time recognizing and reading others' emotions may be due to an inability to read your own emotions. This gap makes it challenging to connect with what others are feeling.

3. Believing Others Are Overly Sensitive

Those with low Emotional Intelligence often find it hard to understand the emotions of others, which makes them think that whatever they say is appropriate. In addition, they may not be sensitive enough to know when their words offend someone else.

Because they don't understand the emotions of others, they also tend to miss non-verbal cues like facial expressions, how words are spoken, and body posture. They make a lot of mistakes by saying whatever is on their mind. They are oblivious of how their words affect those around them.

Leader Insight: When you disregard the emotions of others, the message you send is that they don't matter. As a leader, even if you think people are being over-sensitive, giving them the benefit of the doubt and acknowledging their feelings goes a long way toward building trust.

4. Refusing to Consider Other Points of View

Individuals with low Emotional Intelligence feel that they are right and will adamantly defend their position and refuse to listen to others. They won't consider perspectives outside of their own, become myopic, and focus solely on their viewpoint.

Leader Insight: Because our perspectives shape how we act and react in situations, attempting to see the world more generously can be beneficial. When you allow for broader perspectives, your influence as a leader expands. In addition, this more comprehensive approach builds reciprocal respect within your team.

5. Blame Others for Their Mistakes

When things go wrong in their life, people with low Emotional Intelligence will often blame others for the problems that they caused. For example, they might suggest that they didn't choose a particular outcome and that people don't understand their situation. Their default response is blame.

Leader Insight: When blame becomes your default behavior, the trust within the team is fractured. As a leader, you have both the ability and obligation to view mistakes as opportunities for personal development and a means to strengthen relationships.

The good news is that you can take multiple actions to increase your Emotional Intelligence. While these skills may come more quickly for some people, anyone can develop them with guidance and determination.

Try these strategies:

Become a Willing Participant – Ask for Feedback

You can't change what you don't understand. The starting line for Emotional Intelligence is self-awareness. The ability to recognize and be mindful of behaviors as they occur is the core of self-awareness. Ask some trusted colleagues or friends what they observe about your emotional responses. Be willing to accept what they say; own their feedback.

Once you are entirely open and honest with yourself about what you are experiencing, you can make wiser choices instead of reacting. Asking for and receiving a clear perspective from someone else is invaluable in evaluating and increasing your Emotional Intelligence.

Beware of The Gap Between Intention and Impact

When you have low Emotional Intelligence, you tend to underestimate the negative impact your words and actions have on others. You may mean to say one thing, but others almost always hear something different.

For example, a friend comes to you about a work problem. You offer advice, but your friend becomes defensive and ends the conversation. You find out later that they felt like you were saying they handled the situation poorly. You intended to offer an action plan, but the impact was that they felt judged.

Regardless of what you intend to say, first consider how your words could impact others and if that is how you want them to feel. It only takes a few moments of consideration before acting to ensure your communication results in the ideal outcome.

Take a Moment to Notice What is Happening — Pause

When you are operating with high Emotional Intelligence, you can quickly notice what you are experiencing and adjust how you respond.

To give yourself a runway to noticing what is happening, you need to become skillful at practicing these three pauses:

1. Pause to notice your physical sensations: is your heart racing, are you clenching your jaw, or is your face turning red? Recognizing these and similar sensations help you remember that you have a choice in what comes next. You can choose your response before you react in the heat of the moment by being aware of your body's signals as they occur.

2. Pause to notice others: do they seem frustrated, are you listening to what they are saying, or do you even care about their situation? Remember that your viewpoint is not the only one, and make sure you see the problem from both sides. Practice the maxim of walking a mile in their shoes.

3. Pause to let your brain shift: once you stop to notice how your body is reacting and what is transpiring around you, the emotional brain has a chance to allow the reasoning and thinking brain to take the lead. Just by taking a few moments to consider the circumstances, you allow your brain to shift.

Emotions are a powerful force that not only motivates us to act but also drives many of our decisions. By understanding the different emotions we feel and how they affect us, it's possible to make better choices about our responses.

"It's important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence or the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both." David Caruso

Thanks for reading! Please share this with your friends and social community.

If you would like to know more about emotional intelligence and leadership development coaching, let's talk!

You can reach me at or 775-453-8907.


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