Truly emotional intelligent people are a rare breed. They act differently from the rest of us. They don’t fall into the traps of being governed by their emotions, and, in fact, are masters of them. But how is it that you move from a place of wishing and wanting to be in that expression to actually embodying it? Because while intelligence is something that’s innate within all of us at a natural base level, it’s not a fixed quantity. We can learn how to be more intelligent. We aren’t simply stuck in the mould we’re born into. And so, the same is absolutely true of emotional intelligence. As we progress through life and mature, we’re afforded the opportunity to grow in relationships by the conscious actions we take within them, which is our emotional intelligence. And this is what it actually looks like:
You Actively Listen During Conversations
There’s a difference between hearing what someone is saying and actually listening to them. When you truly engage your skill of listening to others in an empathetic way, it takes you from a place of simply bearing witness as a passive observer to being truly present and understanding what’s being offered to you. For emotionally intelligent people, this is their default mode. But they don’t just listen, they make the people they’re engaged with feel like they’re being properly valued in the responses they give. An emotionally intelligent person will never turn the conversation towards themselves until they feel that the person who’s sharing has offered enough to feel complete.
You Identify the Needs of Others Around You
This can surface in many ways, whether it be through conversation, the reading of people’s body language, mannerisms and general dynamics of a group interaction. And this isn’t something that you’ll necessarily get the hang of overnight. It’s absolutely a journey in how to read the various flows of human exchange, which comes from being more empathetic and compassionate. But once you can do this, it allows you to anchor in a more supportive narrative and either ask people questions about them if they need the space to express themselves, or else defer attention from someone who’s perhaps feeling uncomfortable about having the spotlight shone on them. In this expression, you become the archetypal peacemaker and cease to be rooted in the ‘me-centric’ view of the world.
You Recognise the Damage Your Actions Can Do
When you truly start embodying what it means to be an emotionally intelligent person, you start to not just see the consequences of your actions, but also feel them in a very real way as you ask yourself, ‘Is this how I’d like to be treated if the roles were reversed?’ And quite often, this comes from the practice of hindsight and reflection, looking back at some of your own past traumas, and wanting to do better. And once you get on this path, what that means in your interpersonal dynamics is you’re often able to think several steps ahead of what you’re thinking about sharing and the knock-on effect that would have on the person receiving it. And so, this enables you to effectively play an emotional game of chess in your head. Not in a way to manipulate people. But instead, to ensure that you’re always acting in your highest integrity.
You Give Other People a Safe Space to Express Their Emotions
Emotionally intelligent people are often known as space holders. And if you’ve ever been involved with any authentic relating or listening exercises, you’ll understand the space holder as being the one who listens without interruption. Just holding that space for the other person to be heard. Again, this is a pretty natural position to take. One in which you don’t feel the need to be sharing all of your stuff all the time. Because you can provide your own sense of internal validation. It can be a rare thing to find yourself in the presence of someone who’ll allow you the space to truly open up. And if and when you do, it can be quite an uncomfortable experience if you’re not used to being able to speak freely without interruption. You may even check in with the person to make sure they’re still listening. But, you’ll know that they are, as they’ll quickly paraphrase what you’ve just been saying and ask to carry on assuring you that you have their full attention.
You Allow Yourself to Be Vulnerable
For all the talk of what emotional intelligence means in an outward sense, it shouldn’t be overlooked that it also creates the capacity to be with other people and their emotions. This skill comes from having cultivated a deep connection with yourself. And what often results from that willingness to look within is the ability to own those feelings and be vulnerable. But also to share them in a constructive way. You can absolutely be as vulnerable as you give others permission to be. And that doesn’t mean you’ll share deeply in a way that sees you overextend. But you’ll do so in the appropriate context, in a thoughtful way and maybe even during a time when you want to provide some real tangible empathy to someone. And neither will you do in a way that puts unnecessary pressure on the person holding space. Because you recognise innately what capacity each person you speak with has to hold you and your most vulnerable parts.