4 Habits of Emotionally Intelligent People

#1: Talk about your emotions plainly

Nick Wignall


Photo by Daniel Xavier

Most people aren’t very good at managing difficult emotions because they don’t know much about their emotions and how they work…

  • They procrastinate constantly because they don’t realize they’re really avoiding their own anxiety, not their work.
  • They argue incessantly with their spouse because they don’t realize being critical is their defense mechanism against insecurity and fear of loneliness.
  • They feel constantly stressed and anxious because they rely on cheap coping strategies that temporarily bring relief but actually increase their anxiety in the long-run.

If you want to feel better, you need to understand how your feelings actually work.

Unfortunately, most people assume emotional intelligence is either something you’re born with or something you discover suddenly after reading a great book or listening to some wise advice.

But in reality, it’s neither…

Emotional intelligence comes from good habits — what you commit to doing on a regular basis.

What follows are four habits of emotionally intelligent people. Build them into your own life, and watch your emotional intelligence rise.

1. Talk plainly about your emotions

When was the last time you heard an adult say: I’m really angry right now or, I feel sad?

Even when I worked as a therapist, I was surprised how infrequently people used plain emotion words to describe how they felt — and they were in therapy!

On the other hand, if you spend any time at all around little kids, you’ll hear plenty of emotion words… I’m mad because Sophie hit me! or, I’m sad. We didn’t get recess today because it was raining.

Most adults intellectualizing their emotions — they use conceptual or metaphorical language to describe how they feel.

For example:

  • Instead of I’m mad we say, I’m just stressed.
  • Instead of I feel sad we say, I just feel kind of down.



Nick Wignall

Psychologist and writer sharing practical advice for emotional health and well-being: https://thefriendlymind.com