5 Traits of People With High EQ (And Why it Matters So Much)

Want to become more effective in the difficult conversations in your life? Sometimes our conversations don’t play out that well, run off the rails, and people leave feeling demoralized or belittled. We know what it’s like to walk away from a conversation that we are still carrying hours, days, or even years later. That is why we’ve created this FREE resource entitled 15 Ways to Turn Hard Conversations into Win-Win Dialogue  It will help you start to navigate even the most challenging discussions. Click here to download the guide now!

Whatever you find yourself doing in life, you are accomplishing it with people.

No one, as the cliché goes, is an island.

It doesn’t matter what your business model is—you are in the people business.

Ultimately you have to work effectively with others to succeed.

You have to effectively work with your boss. You have to effectively work with your teammates in the office. You have to effectively work with your clients.

Your ability to motivate, regulate, and apply passion or focus to a problem is critical for your personal and professional growth.

And all of those things are a part of strengthening your emotional quotient, or EQ.

So how do you know if you are there?

We have made a checklist.

People with a high EQ are self-aware.

“I know what I do well. I know what I don’t do well. And most importantly, I know how what I do impacts others around me.”

After a ten year exhaustive study, The Center for Creative Leadership (a think tank in North Carolina) came up with 67 attributes of effective leadership.

Self-awareness was the highest ranked attribute correlated with successful leadership.

It makes sense.

Leadership is about influence. If you are not in touch with the impact that you have on others, how can you manage that impact in order to be successful in your leadership or management style?

As leaders, we need to be aware of our influence on others.

If I am going to influence someone on my team for the better—it can’t just be about what I think or believe. I need to understand where my team is coming from and how what I do or say impacts them.

When I have that understanding, I can be purposeful in how to lead. I can relate in a way that proves the most effective for what the organization or team needs.

The best way to grow in self-awareness—be open to feedback.

In our difficult conversation training, we talk about how giving and receiving feedback are critical tools in the business world. If I want to grow in my self-awareness (professionally or personally), I need to learn to receive feedback from others.

Here is a secret. It isn’t about if you agree, or how it makes you feel (feedback can be painful). The point of feedback is that you learn to receive and evaluate the data for self-awareness and ultimately, personal growth.

People with a high EQ are self-regulated.

A person with a high EQ knows how to manage their emotions. They don’t fly off the handle whenever something doesn’t go their way.

Whatever they are thinking—they don’t just say it. Whatever they are feeling—they don’t just express it. They manage what they are thinking and they manage what there are feeling.

If you are going to work well with others, you need to have self-regulation as a tool. It is not okay to lose your cool at work or towards the people you care about.

Often our emotions are tied to our belief systems. Rarely are our emotions a result of what has happened to us. They are a result of what we believe about what has happened to us.

Unfortunately, emotions often feel like they are out of our control.

Similarly, life does too. Often, we view the world as a jumble of random things happening—good or bad.

Here is the reality. We may not always be able to choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we respond to it. The key is in developing the capacity to do so.

That is what self-regulation is. It is developing the capacity to manage your self-talk, manage your belief systems, and ultimately manage your emotions. Managing is at the heart of self-regulation, and ultimately, the heart of EQ.


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People with a high EQ are personally motivated.

Too often people are dependent on the environment or outside factors for motivation.

It shouldn’t be that way.

A person with a high EQ is able to find personal motivation. They are able to be proactive and take responsibility to bring their energy, passion, and focus to whatever is most important.

They understand that it comes from the inside out, not the outside in.

That is a critical component of EQ—but it is also a critical component to the way one deals with conflict.

When things are difficult, we tend to pull back or away from the situation. Having a strong sense of personal motivation will help you lean into the conflict, even when it doesn’t feel good.   

I want to talk a bit about self-efficacy. This is a psychological term that refers to when a person has a strong enough personality and confidence to be able to affect change and make things happen.

This is really important as it relates to bringing your energy to bear on a situation.

If I find myself in difficulty, and I don’t believe I have anything I can do to change that—the situation overwhelms me. I shut down and don’t function well.

People who are effective leaders, when difficulty comes, they believe they can do something about it. They believe that they are able to work through the barriers, around the barriers, over the barriers—whatever it takes.

Growing in self-efficacy is really important. But how do you do that? How do you grow in that confidence?

Well, it doesn’t come just by handing someone a big trophy or accolades—it needs to come by “experiencing” success and seeing effective outcomes.

It is a balance.

If you put people in incredibly difficult situations, their self-efficacy can be destroyed. But the right amount of pressure gives a person the opportunity to learn how to deal with the difficulty. It gives them the opportunity to work through the stress and find ways around the barriers in order to experience success.

And when people experience a little success, it empowers them for a little more difficulty.

As leaders, we need to be aware of our influence on others

People with a high EQ are empathic.

People that have a high EQ understand that everyone is wired differently.

The majority of people you come into contact with don’t think like you, act like you, or have your values.

Understanding that the rest of the world is different from you—and making room for that strengthens your empathy.

But it is more than a philosophical notion. It takes effort and energy to not only make room for differences but pursue understanding.

A lot of times, our difficulty in working with others is tied to the fact that we are out of touch with how drastically different we are from one another. We don’t take the time to understand why people view the world the way that they do, or why they make the decisions that they make.

At the heart of empathy is listening. When you learn how to listen to others, you are able to retrieve the data you need to understand them.

People with a high EQ have healthy social skills.

A key trait of someone with a high EQ is that they are able to be around people comfortably.

They are also people who others feel comfortable around. They are approachable, accessible, and non-intimidating. They have the ability to connect with people.

People with social skills look at people, not through them. They do things with people, not to them.

Learning how to relate well to others is needed to have successful relationships with others. Bottom line.

After reading this list, if you feel like you are falling short of the mark—don’t worry.

We are all still growing in EQ. The good news is that it is something we CAN grow in.

Your ability to manage yourself is what is going to make you successful in working with others and a more effective leader.

Growing in EQ will not only help you accomplish your goals successfully—you will be happier in the process.

These are just a few insights that will help you navigate those critical conversations in your life and career, but there’s so much more.

There are powerful tools that can really help you become more effective, and we at Ember Learning are here to help. With over 25 years of professional consulting in top businesses around the country, we want to share some of our top insights with you.

Download our FREE PDF “15 Ways to Turn Hard Conversations into Win-Win Dialogue” now!

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