7 Habits of Highly Emotionally Intelligent People

“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 has increasingly become 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.

When we look at the makeup of people with high emotional intelligence, they all possess these seven habits.

1. Focus on the Positive

While not ignoring the bad news, emotionally intelligent people have made a conscious decision to not spend a lot of time and energy focusing on problems. Rather, they look at what is positive in a situation and look for solutions to a problem. These people focus on what they are able to do and that which is within their control.

2. Surround Yourself with Positive People

People with a lot of emotional intelligence don’t spend a lot of time listening to complainers and they tend to avoid negative people. They are aware that negative people are an energy drain and are not willing to let others exhaust their vitality.

Because emotionally intelligent people always look for solutions and the positive in situations, negative people quickly learn to avoid them since misery loves company. Emotionally intelligent people spend time with others who are positive and look on the bright side of life. You can spot these folks as they tend to smile and laugh a great deal and attract other positive people. Their warmth, openness, and caring attitude lead others to look upon them as more trustworthy.

3. 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 needed. They demonstrate politeness and consideration but stay firm at the same time. They do not make needless enemies. Their response to situations in which there may be conflict is measured, not inflated, and managed appropriately to the situation. They think before speaking and give themselves time to calm down if their emotions appear to become overwhelming. High EI people guard their time and commitments and know when they need to say “no.”

4. Be 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 on 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 as a personal reflection of themselves.

5. 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 know what makes them happy and look for opportunities to expand the enjoyment. They receive pleasure and satisfaction from seeing others happy and fulfilled and do whatever they can to brighten someone else’s day.

6. Choose How to Expend Your Energy Wisely

While these enlightened people are good at moving on from the past when things don’t work out as expected, they are also able to move on from conflicts with others. High EI folks don’t hold onto anger over how others have treated them, but instead 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.

7. Continually Grow and Learn to Trust Yourself

Highly emotionally intelligent people are lifelong learners—constantly growing and evolving, open to new ideas, and always willing to learn from others. Being critical thinkers, they are open to changing their minds if someone presents an idea that is a better fit. While they are open to ideas from others and continuously gather new information, they ultimately trust themselves and their own judgment to make the best decisions for themselves.

About the Author

Harvey Deutschendorf is an emotional intelligence expert, speaker, trainer, and internationally published author of The Other Kind of Smart: Simple Ways to Boost Your Emotional Intelligence for Greater Personal Effectiveness and Success. He also writes for Fast Company and has a monthly column with HR Professionals Magazine. As well, he is a regular contributor to Real Leaders Magazine, the official publication of the Young Presidents Club. Harvey is a TEDx Speaker with TEDx Beacon Street, Boston. In 2015 Harvey was recognized by Trust Across America as one of the top Thought Leaders in Trust.