The restaurant manager who speaks with poise and grace to the patron complaining loudly about the wait service. The levelheaded friend you call in your greatest times of need. The compassionate but composed rescue worker who aids victims after a natural catastrophe. The partner who angers rarely, forgives easily, and assumes accountability for their actions. The successful CEO who balances her profession, her family responsibilities, and her personal hobbies with equal measures of calm and confidence.
What do these people have in common?
In two words: Emotional Intelligence. A relatively new trend in the realm of pop culture and psychology today, Emotional Intelligence — or EQ — has existed since the beginning of time. According to Psychology Today, the preeminent site for mental health education and information, Emotional Intelligence is defined as an aptitude for identifying and managing emotions, and the emotions of others. It consists of three primary skills: the ability to analyze interior emotions and the feelings of those around them, the capacity to apply emotions to tasks, and the facility to take control of emotions — whether it’s managing their own before they veer out of control, or having the strength and capability to make another person smile, settle down, or handle a situation appropriately.
Those with high Emotional “IQs” have been proven to enjoy more prosperity in life. Whether they’re in a social or professional environment, they thrive. Studies demonstrate they have fewer mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. Their personal lives aren’t train wrecks, precisely because they’re lived from the point of thoughtful — and meaningful — decisions. They outperform others, excel at their jobs, are happy in their relationships, and consistently work towards attaining positive results in all aspects of life. So, the question is, what don’t they do?
Here are 7 things emotionally intelligent people, as a rule, avoid:
1. They don’t get caught up in other people’s drama.
One of the hallmarks of Emotional Intelligence is empathy, and those with high EQs extend it to everyone they cross. But there’s an enormous difference between displaying empathy towards a friend or loved one and allowing another person’s rage or misery to incense, dominate, or merely influence one’s well-being. Think of the histrionic behavior of your co-worker who is “distraught” not because she’s going through a break-up but because her friend is. Or that cousin of yours who, instead of focusing on her individual personal crises, purposefully seeks out people who are distressed so that her problems disappear via distraction — a habit so ingrained she can’t seem to address her the complications in her own life.
Emotionally intelligent people, on the other hand, listen carefully, provide gentle, loving, but authoritative advice, and offer assistance. But they don’t permit others’ lives and reactions to rule their own.
2. They don’t complain.
Whining and grumbling implies two things — one, that we are victims, and two, there are no solutions to our problems. Rarely does an emotionally intelligent person feel victimized, and even more infrequently does an emotionally intelligent person feel that a solution is beyond their grasp. Instead of looking for someone or something to blame, they immediately think of how to constructively address the dilemma. They also know that their complaints influence the emotional responses of those around them, and instead search for ways to bemoan the dissolution of a relationship or a disappointment with a friend in private, effective ways — whether it’s taking a yoga class, meditating alone at a park, or simply getting their feelings out on the page.
3. They don’t always say yes — to others and themselves.
Like empathy, self-control and conviction are sure signs of an emotionally solid person. Emotionally intelligent people are well-aware that a second glass of wine will lead to negative consequences the next morning, just as they know that an invitation to go on a spontaneous weekend rendezvous will detract them from fulfilling their preexisting commitments. They are definitive about their decisions, rather than saying “I don’t know, maybe?” or “Perhaps I’ll skip the gym today,” which invites doubt — and with that, heightened anxiety, even depression.
The more often emotionally intelligent people exercise their right to say no, and the more frequently they rely on their willpower, the freer they are to concentrate on their ambitions and overall well-being.
4. They don’t gossip.
Emotionally acute people sidestep gossip as determinedly as they skirt drama. To involve themselves in scandalous talk, they know, is to shame another for a supposed error — and an emotionally intelligent person understands that all humans are equally deserving, and that what others might perceive as a mistake is an opportunity for improvement.
5. They don’t count on others for happiness or confidence.
Emotionally intelligent people are self-sufficient in all manners of life, including their contentment and peace of mind. They have learned that to bank on someone else making them feel joyful or worthy is to put themselves at risk for disappointment and hopelessness. Rather, they take their emotions in their own hands and find hobbies that delight them, strive for achievements that will lead to a sense of self-worth, and search within for love and acceptance.
6. They don’t engage in negative self-talk.
While few of us are entirely immune to thinking (or saying) pessimistic statements that begin with “I” (“I’m unattractive,” “I should have done better,” “I’m pathetic”), emotionally intelligent have the ability to curb cynical thoughts before they fall down the proverbial rabbit hole. Instead, they rely on facts to come to conclusions. For some, it’s a mere glance at their experience and accomplishments outlined on their CVs; for others, it’s the appearance of a clean and organized house, or an internal analysis of what they’ve done right.
After all, emotionally intelligent people acknowledge that negative thoughts are just that — thoughts — just as they recognize that the derogatory interior voices they hear are theirs to turn down, tune out, or silence completely.
7. They don’t dwell on the past.
People who exist more in their past than in their present are susceptible to a barrage of mental and spiritual grievances, from regret and nostalgia to agitation and trepidation. Emotionally intelligent people honor their pasts — the people they have loved, the mistakes they have made, the opportunities they’ve eschewed — but are mindful of the importance of living squarely in the here and now.
By learning from the past (instead of dwelling on it), the emotionally intelligent have the power to inform their present — without diminishing their ability to advance or harness three of the most vital emotions of all: Self-satisfaction, gratitude, and hope.