How to Identify a Person with Emotional Intelligence

What should you look for if you want to know whether a person possesses emotional intelligence? There are some clues, although they might not be immediately apparent.
How to Identify a Person with Emotional Intelligence
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 November, 2021

They say that seven minutes are enough to perceive if you’re dealing with someone who’s extremely intelligent. However, beyond the cognitive aspect and the stored knowledge, there exists another aspect of value in making this judgment. It involves the individual’s emotional intelligence, but how do you identify this?

Salovey and Mayer (1990) said that possessing emotional intelligence means you’re able to express your emotions appropriately. It also means you adapt your thoughts and behaviors effectively.

Daniel Goleman claims that it’s easier to identify the person with low emotional intelligence than the other way around. That’s because they make more noise. They’re adults who behave more like three-year-olds. Personalities who become frustrated quickly, who are carried away by their impulses, and who experience serious problems establishing quality social relationships.

In your daily life, you’ll come across many people, some with good abilities and some with not-so-good ones. Let’s take a look at the kind of factors you should look out for.

“If you cannot feel your emotions, if you are disconnected from them, you will eventually experience them on a purely physical level, as a  physical problem or illness.”

-Eckhart Tolle-

Friends talking about how to identify a person with Emotional Intelligence

Keys to identifying a person with emotional intelligence

Currently, we have multiple psychometric tools for the assessment of emotional intelligence. In fact, the University of Queensland (Australia) conducted research that highlighted it was between the late 1990s and 2000 that these types of assessments proliferated. Indeed, everyone started to want to evaluate these kinds of traits, both academically and at work.

However, beyond these evaluation instruments are our real needs. Undoubtedly, most of us would like to be surrounded by emotionally intelligent people. For example, you’d probably love to know if that person you’re attracted to is competent in managing their emotions and social skills. Furthermore, you’d no doubt love a boss who’s highly skilled in these dimensions.

Let’s see what capabilities you need to look out for.

Efficient communication

There are great communicators with terrible emotional intelligence. They’re the kind of people who are addicted to talking about themselves. Furthermore, they put forward their arguments leaving no room for others’ comments or opinions. In general, they usually dazzle you at first with their knowledge. However, be careful. Because a high IQ is irrelevant if they don’t have good emotional control.

To identify a person with emotional intelligence, you need to consider the following dimensions:

  • They practice active listening.
  • They argue their ideas in a confident, assertive, but respectful manner.
  • They’re empathetic.
  • They take into account your reactions. Furthermore, they never lose eye contact.
  • They understand what you’re saying and demonstrate positive and enriching feedback.

Nothing about these people is forced. They demonstrate an empathic connection at all times. Their communication is dynamic, fluid, respectful and characterized by great harmony and reciprocity. You feel understood at all times.

They don’t inflict their negative emotions on others

It’s easier to identify a person with emotional intelligence if you witness how they deal with a complicated situation. For example, a problem at work, a specific disagreement, or a disappointment. Sometimes we make the mistake of thinking that emotionally intelligent people are like Buddhas, always perfectly balanced. However, this isn’t the case.

As a matter of fact, the emotionally intelligent person both experiences and suffers the impact of negative valence emotions. You’ll also see them react. However, what you won’t see is them getting carried away by their negative emotions. In fact, what they do is reason and work them out. In this way, they don’t burden others with their more complex emotions.

They possess good social skills

Good social skills go beyond excellent communication. Therefore, to identify a person with emotional intelligence, you should pay attention to these crucial abilities:

  • They know how to receive criticism and express it without hurting.
  • They deal with hostility and fighting effectively.
  • They’re good at problem-solving.
  • They handle the negativity of the environment well.
  • They transmit good doses of positivity to others regardless of how they feel.
  • They’re good negotiators.
  • They know how to apologize and make mistakes.
  • They’re extremely skillful and assertive in defending their own rights and those of others.
Coworker talking about how to identify a person with Emotional Intelligence

They make you feel comfortable at all times

There’s one simple key to identifying a person with emotional intelligence. Just ask yourself how they make you feel. If you perceive that you feel comfortable and can be yourself at all times with them, and that you’re free to express yourself without fear of being judged, you’re with someone with emotional intelligence.

People with this capability have the subtle charm of creating highly nurturing environments in which everyone grows. In fact, in the company of these people, you grow in self-esteem, social connectivity, and respect. Furthermore, you feel completely secure and, as you well know, as a human being, there’s nothing more important than finding someone you can trust.

These kinds of people not only allow you to regulate your own emotions. They enable you to think and act better. What they achieve, above all, is the harmonization of social relations. In fact, they’re endowed with that special quality of confidence. Furthermore, they always know how to be in tune with what others feel.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Abe K, Evans P, Austin EJ, et al. Expressing one’s feelings and listening to others increases emotional intelligence: a pilot study of Asian medical students. BMC Med Educ. 2013;13:82. doi:10.1186/1472-6920-13-82
  • Gilar-Corbi R, Pozo-Rico T, Sánchez B, Castejón JL. Can emotional intelligence be improved? A randomized experimental study of a business-oriented EI training program for senior managers. PLoS One. 2019;14(10):e0224254. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0224254
  • Hogeveen J, Salvi C, Grafman J. ‘Emotional Intelligence’: Lessons from Lesions. Trends Neurosci. 2016 Oct;39(10):694-705. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2016.08.007. Epub 2016 Sep 17. PMID: 27647325; PMCID: PMC5807001.
  • Muyia HM. Approaches to and Instruments for Measuring Emotional Intelligence: A Review of Selected Literature. Advances in Developing Human Resources. 2009;11(6):690-702. doi:10.1177/1523422309360843
  • O’Connor, P. J., Hill, A., Kaya, M., & Martin, B. (2019). The Measurement of Emotional Intelligence: A Critical Review of the Literature and Recommendations for Researchers and Practitioners. Frontiers in psychology10, 1116.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.