9 Things Emotionally Intelligent People Won’t Do
By Dr. Travis Bradberry
My last article, How Successful People Stay Calm, really struck a nerve. It was one of the most popular pieces in the 12-year history of the TalentSmart newsletter, and it has been read more than a million times on my Forbes blog.
The trick is that managing your emotions is as much about what you wont do as it is about what you will do. TalentSmart has tested more than a million people, so I went back to the data to uncover the kinds of things that emotionally intelligent people are careful to avoid in order to keep themselves calm, content, and in control. They consciously avoid these behaviors because they are tempting and easy to fall into if one isnt careful.
While the list that follows isnt exhaustive, it presents nine key things that you can avoid in order to increase your emotional intelligence.
1. They Wont Let Anyone Limit Their Joy
When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own happiness. When emotionally intelligent people feel good about something that theyve done, they wont let anyones opinions or accomplishments take that away from them.
While its impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you dont have to compare yourself to others, and you can always take peoples opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within. Regardless of what people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certainyoure never as good or bad as they say you are.
2. They Wont Forget
Emotionally intelligent people are quick to forgive, but that doesnt mean that they forget. Forgiveness requires letting go of whats happened so that you can move on. It doesnt mean youll give a wrongdoer another chance. Emotionally intelligent people are unwilling to be bogged down unnecessarily by others mistakes, so they let them go quickly and are assertive in protecting themselves from future harm.
3. They Wont Die in the Fight
Emotionally intelligent people know how important it is to live to fight another day. In conflict, unchecked emotion makes you dig your heels in and fight the kind of battle that can leave you severely damaged. When you read and respond to your emotions, youre able to choose your battles wisely and only stand your ground when the time is right.
4. They Wont Prioritize Perfection
Emotionally intelligent people wont set perfection as their target because they know it doesnt exist. Human beings, by our very nature, are fallible. When perfection is your goal, youre always left with a nagging sense of failure, and you end up spending your time lamenting what you failed to accomplish and what you should have done differently instead of enjoying what you were able to achieve.
5. They Wont Live in the Past
Failure can erode your self-confidence and make it hard to believe youll achieve a better outcome in the future. Most of the time, failure results from taking risks and trying to achieve something that isnt easy. Emotionally intelligent people know that success lies in their ability to rise in the face of failure, and they cant do this when theyre living in the past. Anything worth achieving is going to require you to take some risks, and you cant allow failure to stop you from believing in your ability to succeed. When you live in the past, that is exactly what happens, and your past becomes your present, preventing you from moving forward.
6. They Wont Dwell on Problems
Where you focus your attention determines your emotional state. When you fixate on the problems that youre facing, you create and prolong negative emotions and stress, which hinders performance. When you focus on actions to better yourself and your circumstances, you create a sense of personal efficacy that produces positive emotions and improves performance. Emotionally intelligent people wont dwell on problems because they know theyre most effective when they focus on solutions.
7. They Wont Hang Around Negative People
Complainers are bad news because they wallow in their problems and fail to focus on solutions. They want people to join their pity party so that they can feel better about themselves. People often feel pressure to listen to complainers because they dont want to be seen as callous or rude, but theres a fine line between lending a sympathetic ear and getting sucked into their negative emotional spiral. You can avoid getting drawn in only by setting limits and distancing yourself when necessary. Think of it this way: if a person were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke? Youd distance yourself, and you should do the same with complainers. A great way to set limits is to ask complainers how they intend to fix a problem. The complainer will then either quiet down or redirect the conversation in a productive direction.
8. They Wont Hold Grudges
The negative emotions that come with holding onto a grudge are actually a stress response. Just thinking about the event involved sends your body into fight-or-flight mode. When a threat is imminent, this reaction is essential to your survival, but when a threat is ancient history, holding onto that stress wreaks havoc on your body and can have devastating health consequences over time. In fact, researchers at Emory University have shown that holding onto stress contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease. Holding onto a grudge means youre holding onto stress, and emotionally intelligent people know to avoid this at all costs. Learning to let go of a grudge will not only make you feel better now but can also improve your health.
9. They Wont Say Yes Unless They Really Want To
Research conducted at the University of California in San Francisco shows that the more difficulty that you have saying no, the more likely you are to experience stress, burnout, and even depression. Saying no is indeed a major challenge for most people. “No” is a powerful word that you should not be afraid to wield. When its time to say no, emotionally intelligent people avoid phrases like “I dont think I can” or “Im not certain.” Saying no to a new commitment honors your existing commitments and gives you the opportunity to successfully fulfill them.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Travis Bradberry, Ph.D.
Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of the #1 bestselling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world's leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training, serving more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies. His bestselling books have been translated into 25 languages and are available in more than 150 countries. Dr. Bradberry has written for, or been covered by, Newsweek, BusinessWeek, Fortune, Forbes, Fast Company, Inc., USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, and The Harvard Business Review.