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Chapter Eleven

Signs of High & Low EQ

If you don't know how you feel, who does?

Listed below are general characteristics of people with high and low EQ. Obviously, these are generalizations, but they may prove helpful as guidelines.

[January 2000 note: Please keep in mind that since writing this chapter in my 1996 book I have narrowed my definition of emotional intelligence and "EQ" to follow the Mayer/Salovey/Caruso model more so than the model presented in Goleman's 1995 book. Thus, until further research is done on emotional intelligence, please think of these guidelines as more of a sign of high and low levels of emotional skill and emotional enlightenment.]

Low EQ

Since negative emotions, lack of emotions, and indirect expression of emotions are all contagious, it is generally smart to avoid negative, low-EQ people who may infect you with their bitterness bugs and victim viruses. These people are no fun to be around, and you certainly don't want to pick up their bad habits. Here is a summary of what kind of people to watch out for and steer clear of. These are people who:

Don't take responsibilities for their feelings.

Can't put together three word sentences starting with "I feel..."

Can't tell you why they feel the way they feel. (Be especially wary of those who make you the focal point when they explain their feelings.)

Attack you, blame you, command, criticize, & advise you.

Interrupt and invalidate you.

Lecture you.

Judge you.

Lay guilt trips on you.

Withhold information about their feelings.

Lie about their feelings.

Exaggerate or minimize their feelings.

Let things build up, then they blow up, or react strongly to something relatively minor.

Have little integrity.

Carry grudges.

Don't tell you where you really stand with them.

Withhold information.

Are uncomfortable to be around.

Act out their feelings, rather than talk them out.

Play games.

Are insensitive to your feelings.

Have no empathy, no compassion.

Are not emotionally available.

Offer little chance of emotional intimacy.

Do not consider your feelings before acting.

Do not consider their future feelings before acting.

Are insecure and defensive.

Often have low self-esteem.

Find it hard or impossible to admit their mistakes, tell you when they feel bad for something they did, or apologize sincerely.

Show no remorse.

Perceive themselves as helpless victims.

Avoid responsibility by saying things like: "I had to do it. What did you expect me to do? What was I supposed to do? I had no choice."

Attack you for criticizing them.

Think the world is not fair.

Frequently feel disappointed, bitter or victimized.

Frequently feel inadequate, dumb, or stupid-- or are afraid of appearing so.

Are either extremely or not at all concerned with appearances.

Frequently either complain, or pretend nothing is wrong.

Need to use profanity to express themselves.

Lock themselves into courses of action against common sense.

Avoid personal relationships and seek substitute relationships with everything from their pets and plants to imaginary beings.

Rigidly cling to their beliefs.

Can tell you all the details of something that involves other people, even something years earlier, but can't tell you how they feel right now.

I've found that there are any number of ways which we all avoid facing our own negative emotions and unhappiness. Some common ways people do this are by:

Judging everyone else. Labeling everyone else. Acting self-righteous. Finding others to blame. Hiding their pain behind degrees, offices, positions, titles, fame, status, etc. Minimizing their own unhappiness & negative feelings. Denying their unhappiness, loneliness, emptiness, fears, anger, bitterness, etc. Finding someone worse off than themselves to focus on. Trying to please everyone else by telling jokes, laughing at everything, and pretending to be ever-happy. Distracting themselves through various compulsions and addictions such as work, hobbies, exercise, sports, entertainment, religion, drugs, etc. Analyzing and intellectualizing. Expressing their thoughts but never their feelings. Acting either cocky or self-deprecating. Identifying with externalities such as movie stars, sports stars, club memberships, political parties, and religious groups.

Because emotions are contagious, the more you can avoid those with low EQ, the better your chances for happiness.

Signs of High EQBesides not displaying the characteristics mentioned above, a person with high EQ:

Expresses his feelings clearly and directly.

Is not afraid to express his feelings.

Is not dominated by negative emotions such as: Fear, Worry, Guilt, Shame, Embarrassment, Obligation, Disappointment, Hopelessness, Powerlessness, Dependency, Victimization.

Is able to read non-verbal communication.

Let's his feelings guide him through life.

Balances feelings with reason, logic, and reality.

Feels empowered.

Does what he does because he wants to do it.

Does not feel forced.

Is not dependent on others.

Is intrinsically motivated.

Is not motivated by power, wealth, status, fame, or approval.

Is emotionally resilient.

Does not internalize failure.

Is interested in other people's feelings.

Is comfortable talking about feelings.

Is not immobilized by fear or worry.

Is able to identify multiple feelings.


Chapter 12