The Telltale Signs of Low Emotional Intelligence: 9 Behaviors to Watch Out For

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is the ability to recognize, understand, and manage one’s own emotions and those of others. It plays a crucial role in personal and professional life, influencing the quality of relationships, decision-making, and overall success. People with low EQ often exhibit certain behaviors without realizing their impact on those around them.

Behavior 1: Lack Of Self-Awareness

Self-awareness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. It involves understanding one’s own emotions, strengths, weaknesses, and the effect one has on others. People with low EQ often struggle with self-awareness, failing to recognize how their actions and words influence those around them. This lack of self-awareness can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and poor decision-making.

Behavior 2: Poor Listening Skills

Active listening is a critical component of effective communication and a sign of high emotional intelligence. People with low EQ often struggle with listening, frequently interrupting others, not paying attention, or focusing more on their thoughts and responses. This behavior can make others feel unheard and unvalued and damage relationships in personal and professional settings.

Behavior 3: Inability To Empathize

Empathy is the ability to understand and share another person’s feelings. People with low EQ often find it challenging to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. This lack of empathy can lead to insensitivity, misunderstandings, and difficulty building solid and supportive relationships. In professional settings, a lack of empathy can hinder teamwork and collaboration.

Behavior 4: Difficulty In Managing Emotions

Emotional regulation is the ability to manage one’s emotions healthily and appropriately. People with low EQ often struggle with this, experiencing frequent emotional outbursts, mood swings, or difficulty controlling their reactions. This can lead to strained relationships, impulsive decision-making, and increased personal and professional stress levels.

Behavior 5: Blaming Others

Accountability is the willingness to take responsibility for one’s actions and decisions. People with low EQ often blame others rather than examining their role when things go wrong. This behavior can erode trust, damage relationships, and create a toxic environment where people are afraid to take risks or make mistakes.

Behavior 6: Inability To Accept Feedback

Constructive feedback is essential for personal and professional growth. People with low EQ often struggle with accepting feedback, becoming defensive, dismissive, or in denial when faced with criticism or suggestions for improvement. This resistance to feedback can hinder their ability to learn, grow, and adapt, limiting their potential for success.

Behavior 7: Lack Of Adaptability

Adaptability is the ability to adjust one’s thoughts and behaviors in response to changing circumstances. People with low EQ often display rigidity in thinking and actions, struggling to adapt to new situations, ideas, or perspectives. This lack of flexibility can limit their success in a rapidly changing world, where the ability to pivot and adjust is essential.

Behavior 8: Poor Conflict Resolution Skills

Effective conflict resolution requires communicating openly, listening actively, and finding mutually beneficial solutions. People with low EQ often struggle with conflict resolution, resorting to avoidance, aggression, or manipulation rather than addressing issues directly and constructively. Unresolved conflicts can fester, damaging relationships and hindering productivity in both personal and professional spheres.

Behavior 9: Insensitivity To Social Cues

Social awareness is the ability to detect and interpret social cues, such as body language, tone of voice, and facial expressions. People with low EQ often miss or misinterpret these cues, leading to inappropriate comments, a lack of boundaries, or insensitivity to others’ feelings. This behavior can cause discomfort and offense and damage their reputation and relationships.

Case Study: Marla’s Journey To Emotional Intelligence

Marla, a 35-year-old restaurant manager, had always struggled to maintain positive relationships in her personal and professional life. Her staff often complained about her lack of empathy and poor communication skills, which led to high turnover rates and a stressful work environment.

Marla’s wake-up call came when her best friend, Sarah, confronted her about her insensitivity and inability to listen. Sarah pointed out that Marla often dismissed her feelings and failed to offer support when needed. This conversation prompted Marla to reflect on her behavior and seek ways to improve her emotional intelligence.

Determined to change, Marla enrolled in an emotional intelligence training program. She learned about self-awareness, empathy, active listening, and effective communication through the program. She practiced these skills daily, consciously trying to understand and validate others’ feelings.

Marla noticed significant relationship improvements as she continued to work on her emotional intelligence. Her staff appreciated her newfound empathy and open communication style, leading to a more positive and collaborative work environment. Marla’s friendships also deepened as she became a more supportive and understanding presence in her loved ones’ lives. By developing her emotional intelligence, Marla discovered the key to building more robust, fulfilling relationships in all aspects of her life.

Key Takeaways

  • Emotional intelligence (EQ) is vital in various aspects of life, including personal relationships, professional success, decision-making abilities, and overall well-being.
  • Individuals with low EQ often display specific behaviors without realizing their negative impact on others, leading to strained relationships and difficulties in both personal and professional settings.
  • Acknowledging and understanding these behaviors is the initial step towards personal growth, self-improvement, and building better relationships with others.
  • Emotional intelligence is not a fixed trait but a skill that can be developed and enhanced over time through various practices, such as self-reflection, seeking feedback, engaging in mindfulness, and practicing effective communication techniques.
  • By working on improving emotional intelligence, individuals can create more positive, harmonious, and successful relationships in their personal and professional lives, leading to greater overall life satisfaction and fulfillment.
  • Developing emotional intelligence requires consistent effort, patience, and a willingness to learn and grow. However, improved relationships, better decision-making, and increased self-awareness make it a worthwhile investment in personal and professional development.


Recognizing these nine behaviors associated with low emotional intelligence is the first step towards personal growth and improved relationships. By developing self-awareness, practicing active listening, cultivating empathy, and working on emotional regulation, individuals can enhance their EQ and create more positive, supportive connections with others.

It is important to remember that emotional intelligence (EQ) is a skill that can be developed and strengthened over time. Through self-reflection, seeking feedback, mindfulness, and effective communication practices, anyone can improve their EQ and reap the benefits in their personal and professional lives.

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